In 2020 I met a few people at work, who told me (all independent from each other) that they had a close relative with severe mental health issues, who attempted suicide and how this was affecting their lives and their work in academia.
This was tough for me on so many levels. Because I can relate. My mother had multiple suicide attempts and has been diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder decades ago. In a way this has been part of almost my whole life, but I also managed to adapt and deal with it in order for me to
live a normal, happy life.
Personally, I think it has helped me most to discuss this openly with my family and it never has been treated as a stigma or taboo. My mother answered all my questions and never told me to be silent about this topic.
However, I realized that there is indeed a stigma around this topic and especially in academia this is not discussed enough.
My godfather and his wife founded a suicide prevention foundation in Germany (“Dr. Elias und Hedwig Gulinsky-Stiftung”), because his son, who was a very successful surgeon died of suicide. This foundation supports research projects and raises awareness for suicide, together with the German society for suicide prevention (DGS).
Below I am listing a number of resources, which raise awareness and provide concrete help and advice:
- https://www.113.nl/ – the dutch suicide prevention and crisis help line, which you can reach via phone (113 and 0800-0113, only accessible for people calling from within the Netherlands) and via chat
- https://stormaanpak.nl/de-kracht-van-storm/, Strong Teens & Resilient minds – a dutch organisation by the GGZ Oost-Brabant for suicide prevention and research
- https://www.suizidprophylaxe.de/ – the German society for suicide prevention (DGS)
- https://dragonflymentalhealth.com/ , Dragonfly Mental Health – as an organization focused on promoting academic mental health globally
- https://www.iasp.info/, International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP)
- https://afsp.donordrive.com/, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)’s higher education suicide prevention resources
- https://unitesurvivors.org/ , United Suicide Survivors International – especially as a way to connect with an international network of other survivors (both loss survivors and attempt survivors)
Personally, I would like to contribute with this blog post and other projects I am doing (separate blog post will follow soon) to raise more awareness both globally and locally at Maastricht University.
by Anna Schueth