“He shot himself in the head”
our VP of Delivery explained about one of our young programmers. At the time, in the late-2000s, I was oblivious to mental health issues, but since my eyes have opened wide. Tom, who suffered from Iron Deficiency Anemia, was one of ~1.2 million suicide attempts and one of 48,000+ Americans who die by suicide in a given year. (1)
Many would be shocked to hear those numbers, just as I was. Now, having gone through my mental health crisis between 2011 and 2014, I get it. As executives and leaders, the question is, “What can we do about struggling employees?”
With my experiences and nearly ten years of coaching (execs and individuals), I have worked with depression, anxiety, suicidal ideations, and attempts. I am not a medical doctor or psychologist, though experience is often the best teacher. That is where this input is coming from, and I believe the following insights are worth sharing:
Though people have put mental health issues, including suicides, into various categories, I learned that a common core issue leads to those thoughts and subsequent actions. There are also resources that support resolving the ideations and putting an end to those, plus many more benefits.
It may be helpful to recognize that you cannot control suicidal ideas. They happen.
I recall looking out my college dorm window nine stories up with no screen and having the thought of jumping, even feeling the sensation of falling. I freaked out and slammed the window shut. So why did that thought arise in me and not in my roommate? That is what we will explore right now.
The life force that allows us to experience being alive exists within everything. We, as humans, have a unique perspective of self-awareness. However, we also can block or deny who we are or parts of who we are. There are logical reasons to do this: Protection, jealousy, anger, fear, approval, and so on. No matter the reason(s), this denial of self leads to experiencing ourselves falsely. We may perceive ourselves as a victim, bad, undeserving, stupid, or even the opposite of believing we are better than others. These narratives create personas that inhibit us from seeing the purity of who we truly are.
Dismantling anything in the way of the truth of who we are is necessary to unlearn whom we think we are to discover who we actually are. Living in our false ideas of who we are, creates dissidence in our minds. Just as gravity pulls us to earth, there is a “pull” to restore what is actually true about ourselves. Think of an acorn believing it will become an apple tree because it sees the other apple trees and desires to be like them. The dissidence will come soon enough when the acorn grows up to be an oak tree unable to produce apples. Eventually, the oak tree will accept itself as it is or fall into a deep depression at its failure to be adequate as its false self, the “apple tree.”
Unchecked, suicidal ideation will eventually seep into the “apple tree” as it is dissatisfied with its life. The ideas reflect its desire to die of what is false, as deep down it knows what’s true: It is unlike the other apple trees, therefore, must be something else. Refusal to explore this will contribute to more suicidal thoughts and perhaps action. Yet, what is true is that the “apple tree” wants to die so the oak tree can live.
Though more complex scenarios exist, referencing traumas, addictions, birth abnormalities, brain injuries, generational patterns, etc., you can see how applicable this acorn example is to our human experiences. The disconnection from the pure truth of who we are is at the heart of many struggles.
Knowing this, how can people unwind or dismantle their false selves and allow their true selves to live? As it turns out, innate within all human beings is a guidance system. When it is active, it leads us to happiness and well-being, our restored selves. If that guidance system is inactive, tools exist to activate it. Our minds become clear as we unwind from what is in our way, that which does not belong (false).
Additionally, we become conscious of our Personal Code, comprised of 10 elements of effectiveness and well-being. This code automatically runs (just like computer code) and can work for or against us. In places where it is working against us, tools and resources are available to refine it for your benefit.
Despite having a thorough program to teach how all this works along with tools and a community of support, our team spent a great deal of time packaging up a gift for you to get introduced to these ten elements within your Personal Code and how they impact people at work (and home) when they are strengths or challenges.
We have been helping leaders and their teams perform at their best by being authentically at their best.
(1) 2021 USA Suicide Statistics, save.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics