It’s not an easy discussion, and often one that gets swept under the rug because “we don’t want to talk about suicide.” But, we have to. We need to. In order to help other moms who are struggling, we have to speak up.

For me, I think about how the world views mothers and motherhood. How our culture sees us. The supermom, the soccer mom who does it all – works, cleans, cooks, read books and helps with homework, changes all the diapers and does the grocery shopping. In our world, moms do it all.

But we are not immune. We are not safe from all of the mental health concerns that are out there. In fact, mental health conditions are the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth, affecting 800,000 new parents every year in the US.

And moms are not immune to suicide.

Suicide accounts for up to 20% of postpartum deaths. It’s the leading cause of death for moms in their first year postpartum. And yes, suicide is not a common occurrence, but thoughts about suicide in motherhood are.

My struggle with suicidal thoughts

I was 6 months postpartum with 2 little boys. As the depression started to creep in, just like it had with my first son, I knew I needed help. And for me, that looked like getting back on my medication. A few weeks after starting back on medication, I was worse than I’ve ever been. The medication was not working and in fact, I was having suicidal thoughts.

Scary ones. The ones that I was even scared to say out loud to anyone. I knew something wasn’t right, and so did my family. I reached out to a psychiatrist and a therapist and started seeing them both regularly. My psychiatrist diagnosed me with Bipolar 2 and put me on the right medication.

But still to this day, I think about what would have happened if I hadn’t reached out. If I had continued to sit with those suicidal thoughts and not asked for help. Suicide is preventable – we just have to speak up about it.

5 Ways to Manage Suicidal Thoughts

  1. Baby steps

    Take things one day at a time. Better yet, one moment at a time. Don’t try to solve all of your problems at once. In fact, take a step back from your problems and try to focus on the now. The moment you are in. If you are safe, recognize that. If you are not safe, reach out to someone who can help you get to a safe space.

  2. Speak up

    Talk to someone you trust about what you are experiencing. This might be harder that it sounds, but know that you are loved and those around you care about you. If you don’t have anyone to call, don’t hesitate to call us at (843) 410-3585 or the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988.

  3. Distract your mind

    Do something that is going to require your mind to move in a different direction. Maybe take a walk down the street while listening to your favorite music. Or draw a picture, take a shower, drink a glass of water. Getting up and moving will help you get out of your mind and into your body.

  4. Reach out to a medical professional

    If you need help finding medical support, please let us know. We have some wonderful psychiatrists and therapist that are local. Speaking to a medical professional about what you are going through is key to getting well.

  5. Look at your crisis plan or crisis box

    A crisis plan is a a written document that you can reference when you feel you are in crisis. This plan can include people you can call and talk to, phone numbers that you can have access to for emergencies, and even ideas of what to do when you feel down (like the ideas above!). If you want to make a crisis box, you can include items that bring you joy, like your favorite photograph, coloring book, candle, or a sweet treat.

Please reach out for help if you are having suicidal thoughts or ideation. We are here to support you and get you the help you deserve.

Important numbers for support – you can CALL/TEXT any of these numbers:

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 988

Postpartum Support Charleston: (843) 410-3585

Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1 (833) 852-6262

MUSC Mom’s IMPACTT: (843) 792-6667

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