Guest Post: What to do if someone is thinking about Suicide.

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Hello everyone! Today Paula Stokes has come on on blog to talk about what to do for someone if they are considering suicide. Hope you all enjoy this post! 

Trigger warning: Suicide discussed heavily. 

What to do if you’re worried that someone is thinking about suicide.

Hi everyone 🙂 I’m honored to be here on Fafa’s Book Corner to talk about a really serious subject: What to do if you’re worried that someone is thinking about suicide. I’m American, so I’ll be using terminology and websites for the United States in this post, but similar sites exist in most countries and many of these tips should be applicable worldwide. All the graphics and statistics are from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website.

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I suggested this topic because I’ve been volunteering on a crisis hotline for ten months and this is one of the most common types of calls, I get. I’m going to share some of the same strategies that I typically share with callers, but please note that this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive source of information about what to do. Every person is different, and every crisis comes with its own set of circumstances that are impossible to predict ahead of time, so when in doubt call your local or national mental health/suicide hotline for additional information or 911 for immediate assistance in life-threatening situations.

How to best respond to someone else’s mental health crisis is going to depend on several factors, including whether the situation is a life-threatening emergency, whether the person is willing to seek treatment, and what you can do to assist the person in need.

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EMERGENCIES:

If the person is in imminent danger, for example, on the edge of a building or a bridge, or alone with a firearm or other means of self-harm, and they tell you they’re going to act on their thoughts of suicide, that’s a life-threatening emergency. The recommended course of action for life-threatening emergencies is to immediately call 911. When calling 911, be prepared to give the dispatcher the person’s name, age, location, psychiatric diagnoses (if they have any), and whether they have access to weapons. It’s fine if you don’t know all of that, but the more info you can provide the better. The makeup of professionals who will respond to a welfare check/possible suicide call is going to depend on where you live and the specific situation, but you should be prepared for at least one police officer, and probably more than one. Other types of professionals who might be part of the team include paramedics, firefighters, and mental health professionals.

I recognize that asking cops to respond to mental health emergencies sometimes leads to bad outcomes, especially when it comes to certain marginalized groups. I completely understand people being hesitant to involve the police, but before you opt not to call 911, consider whether you have any other realistic options and how much risk the person might be in if you don’t send someone to intervene. Here’s a short post from NAMI about calling 911 and dealing with police in mental health emergencies.

If the person is someone you feel comfortable with and they are willing to seek treatment, an alternative to calling 911 would be for you to transport them directly to a psychiatric facility or the emergency department of any hospital, where they can then receive an assessment from a mental health professional. Note that doing this might reduce certain risks but increase others. (There are cases on record where suicidal people have jumped out of cars and ran into traffic on the way to treatment).

The best thing you can do is talk clearly and directly to the suicidal person so you can try to gauge how much risk they are in. It’s fine to ask directly if they’re thinking about suicide, if they have a plan to hurt themselves today, if they have the means to hurt themselves today, whether they have a psychiatrist or therapist they see that you could reach out to on their behalf. It’s also best to involve the suicidal person in any intervention—if you’re going to drop by their apartment or call 911 and request a welfare check, tell them so they don’t get surprised by someone showing up to their home unannounced. When in doubt, trust your gut. If your gut isn’t sure, you can call 1-800-273-TALK in the U.S. or the local or national suicide prevention in your country to get additional advice from a trained staffer or volunteer. If you’re not sure whether a situation is an emergency, treat it like it is.

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URGENT SITUATIONS:

Let’s say you’re really worried about someone, but you know they’re safe for the time being. There are several different options you can take in these situations, and again it depends on whether the person is willing to seek treatment. If they’re not, you can call your local (usually county in the U.S.) mental health hotline and ask about the possibility of a visit from a mobile crisis team. Mobile crisis teams are equipped to do assessments, safety planning, and referrals in neutral settings or private residences. A team will generally include at least one trained counselor or social worker but is likely to also have a police presence. Mobile crisis teams don’t operate 24-7 and take longer to respond than 911, so if you call and ask for a mobile crisis team and the dispatcher thinks it’s an emergency situation, they’re probably going to send a team of first responders.

If the person is willing to seek treatment, consider taking them to a walk-in clinic. In the U.S., most counties have walk-in mental health clinics where a person in distress can go without an appointment and without having to worry about payment. These clinics are usually not 24-7, so you could also consider taking someone to a regular urgent care clinic, a psychiatric hospital, or an emergency room for an assessment if a walk-in clinic isn’t available.

You might also want to get another family member or friend involved. Supporting a suicidal person can be physically and emotionally difficult, and you should never feel like you must figure things out all by yourself. Again, it’s best to include the person-at-risk in all the decisions, so that way you don’t end up involving someone who might make things worse. At the nonprofit where I volunteer, call workers will reach out to people-at-risk on behalf of friends and family members, but due to privacy issues, we’re not able to leave messages if the person doesn’t answer and we’re not able to update you if we do get a hold of them. Still, that’s one more option you can consider if you don’t feel comfortable talking to the person directly, but you think they might be willing to talk to an anonymous stranger.

PASSIVE SUICIDAL IDEATION:

Suicidal thoughts should always be taken seriously, but there are differences between a person who is actively suicidal and one who sometimes wishes they were dead but has no plans to end their life. As this excellent article points out, passively suicidal people can live for months to years with recurrent thoughts of suicide. Supporting them is often more about listening and offering to help find resources.

The best thing you can do for anyone who is emotionally struggling, whether they’re suicidal or not, is to LISTEN. Don’t take my word for it—watch this four-minute animated video that explains it more eloquently than I could ever dream of. Not only does listening help a person-at-risk process their emotions safely, if you do a good job of it, you’ll make them feel less alone, which can have a huge impact on their current mental state. If you can do nothing else but listen—without trying to fix the problem or cheer the person up, two well-meaning strategies that often backfire—you’ve actually done a lot.

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In addition to be a supportive listener, you can also encourage the person to reach out to their primary care doctor, psychiatrist, or counselor if they have one to let them know how they’re feeling. Sometimes all it takes is a dosage adjustment or a new medication to make someone who has been struggling feel better. Other times all they need are a couple extra counselor visits to get them through a disruption in their life.

If they’re not currently seeing a mental health professional, encourage them to seek one out in a supportive, nonjudgmental way. Example: “Hey, I’m here to listen and support you, but what you’re dealing with is really hard. How do you feel about reaching out to a professional who is trained to assist in these situations? I can help you look for someone.” The Psychology Today website has search functions for finding therapists, psychiatrists, treatment centers, and support groups. You can search by city or zip code and scroll through the providers to find ones who accept insurance or take sliding scale fees for the uninsured. (A sliding scale means that the cost of the appointment depends on the client’s income. Unemployed people might pay just a few dollars. Low-income people might pay something like $20). You can also search “low-cost therapy [city]” for options. And if the person-at-risk is a student, they should be able to access free therapy via the school counselor or student services department of their college or university.

**NOTE: It is neither safe nor appropriate for a friend or family member to expect you to serve in the role of counselor for them. If someone is leaning heavily on you but is resistant to talk to a counselor or crisis line, the right thing to do is to tell them kindly that you want to support them but you’re not a trained mental health professional and you’re not able to provide the level of assistance they need. You could mention that you’re struggling with issues of your own or that worrying you won’t be able to meet their needs is causing you some anxiety. A line I like to suggest is “What you’re going through seems really difficult. You deserve someone to help you who is trained in handling these situations.” Never feel guilty for not being able to be a person’s entire support network. That’s too much to ask of anyone.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

If the person you’re worried about is a stranger on social media, you can reach out to them directly if you feel comfortable. If you do that, you might want to tell them you can see that they’re really struggling, and you want them to know they’re not alone. Offer to listen (if you feel comfortable and have the time) or send them the number for a crisis hotline in their country. If you’re not comfortable reaching out, you can report the post to the site and/or call a crisis hotline yourself and let them know about the post. A lot of nonprofits have staffers who man social media accounts and reach out to strangers who appear to be in crisis.

SELF CARE:

As mentioned above, supporting a person with suicidal thoughts can be difficult. I’m always buoyed by the number of people who call the crisis lines because they want to help others. It renews my faith in humanity. At the same time, I always make sure to check in with the callers to see how they’re doing. If you’ve been supporting someone in crisis, be sure to check in with yourself and gauge how it’s affecting you. If you’re feeling a lot of sadness or anxiety, you might want to also reach out to a crisis line or mental health professional to talk through some of your feelings. If nothing else, be sure to engage in some self-care activities to reduce your stress level.

IN CONCLUSION:

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for handling mental health emergencies, but I hope this post has given you some new information and resources to use when it comes to helping people in crisis. If you are struggling yourself, you can find treatment options on the AFSP website, NAMI.org, or Psychology Today. In the U.S., you can call 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 for immediate assistance. In Canada you can find help on the CASP website or call 1-833-456-4566 to talk to a crisis worker. Reaching out for help is a hard thing to do, but it’s also very brave.

BIO:

Paula Stokes is an author, editor, mental health nurse, and crisis hotline volunteer. Her novels include Hidden Pieces, Girl Against the Universe, and Liars Inc. Paula loves kayaking, hiking, reading, and seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. She also loves interacting with readers. Find her online at authorpaulastokes.com or on Twitter and Instagram as @pstokesbooks

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Monthly Wrap-Up: May 2019

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Hello everyone! Today I’m going to be doing my monthly wrap-up for May. I read 3 books. Click on the title to see my reviews. Either from WordPress or GR mini reviews. I’ll mention which of the two. If I haven’t reviewed a book I will include the book GR link. Author links not included. Let me know in the comments what you read in May!

Book(s) that I DNFed (0-2 stars):

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  1. A Conspiracy of Stars by: Olivia A. Cole
  2. Nimona by: Noelle Stevenson

Favourite Book(s) of the Month (4-5 stars):

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  1. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Vol. 4 by: Izumi Tsubaki

Book Haul: May 2019

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Hello everyone! Today I’m going to be doing my book haul for May. Book Haul is when you share books that you bought from the bookstore, ebooks/kindle, borrowed from the library or a friend, books you won through giveaways, and books for review purposes. GR links for (only) the book titles. Let me know in the comments what books you hauled in May!

Library:

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  1. A Conspiracy of Stars by: Olivia A. Cole
  2. Ms. Marvel Vol. 10: Time and Again by: G. Willow Wilson

Ebook/Kubo/Kindle/Audible:

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  1. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Vol. 10 by: Izumi Tsubaki

Giveaway: 

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  1. I Love You So Mochi by: Sarah Kuhn
  2. Other Words for Home by: Jasmine Warga  

A huge thank you to Soknou for these beautiful books 💖

Bookstore:

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  1. Blackbird Vol. 1 by: Sam Humphries and Jen Bartel (Artist)
  2. The Candle and the Flame by: Nafiza Azad

Street Team: My Recommendations

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The Candle and The Flame Noor's Chosen graphic

Hello everyone! As apart of #TheCandleAndTheFlame street team I am going to recommend you some stuff! I decided not to recommend novels but instead other forms of media such as tv shows. Based on different aspects that are present in The Candle and the Flame. I won’t be including any links. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Three images were taken from Google images. The last one is from GR. A few of these may have some triggers. I’ll list the triggers. I would also suggest looking into triggers as well.  

Muslim Protagonist:

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Ms. Marvel follows Kamala Khan a Pakistani-American as she navigates super powers, high school, family, religion, and friendships. Throughout the series Kamala is tested in ways she does not expect and learns how to cope with the consequences of her decisions. 

Marvel fans will recognize some of their favourite superheroes making appearances. Captain Marvel and Iron Man make the most appearances. 

I love this series! Kamala is so relatable and sweet. Islam plays a major role in the series and it is done so beautifully! It means so much as a Muslim to have books with an accurate portrayal of Islam amongst teenagers!

Kamala’s family aren’t the only Muslims, there’s also her best friend Nakia and the Imam of the Mosque. Each play a vital role in the series and are very different Muslims. Other characters with different ethnicities and faiths are present as well. All dealt with beautifully!

The comic book series is ongoing. The latest release being Ms. Marvel Vol. 10: Time and Again. 

Trigger warning: Islamophobia, racism, discrimination, and bullying.   

Family:

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The Quintessential Quintuplets follows Futaro Uesugi who is top in his class, as he tutors a set of quintuplets. Much to his agony said quintuplets refuse his help at every chance they get. Along the way he befriends these quintuplets. And succeeds in getting them to study. There is also a bit of a mystery with flashes in the future.

The Quintessential Quintuplets has such a beautiful focus on family! Specifically sisters. Each sister is so unique and their relationship to one-another is the strongest part of the series!

I also really love that Futaro’s family plays a huge role! And while I really didn’t like him in the beginning he really grew on me. He grows from his relationship with the quintuplets and vice versa.

There is an ongoing Manga series as well as an anime. The anime has been renewed for a second season. Probably releasing in 2020.

Trigger warning: Grief. 

Strong Women:

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Violet Evergarden follows Violet who is coping with PTSD after the war has ended. Violet is described as a ‘doll’ by people. She’s very beautiful and doll like, but has no concept of people or emotions. Despite her doll like appearance Violet played a vital role in the war. Realizing that she needs to work on herself Violet gets a job writing letters for people.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Violet Evergarden! Despite it being a very sad series (there wasn’t an episode where I didn’t cry), I found quite a bit of it relatable. I liked that Violet needed to work on her emotional problems and PTSD after the war. She realized that she had a lot to work through and found a good way to do it. 

It’s really nice that by the end of the season, Violet also doesn’t fit into the typical ‘strong female’. She is away from the war and therefore not having to fight. Too many people (mostly men) consider ‘strong females’ to either have a superpower or amazing fighting skills.

Violet can fight really well, and throughout the season she realizes that there’s more to life than the war. That she can live a happy and accomplished life away from the war. It doesn’t define Violet let alone proves her worth as a person. 

There are multiple women in the anime and each one demonstrates tremendous strength! Violet works in an all female office, some of the episodes are narrated from her coworkers point of view. Which gives you each of the characters’ backstory along with their relationship to Violet.

The anime does such a excellent job portraying each of these women! None of them are perfect and they know that. All the women grow to be better from the relationships they have with one-another. Especially Violet.

The anime is available on Netflix. The light novel series is finished. There are going to be two films released. One in 2019 the other early 2020. 

Trigger warning: PTSD, grief, death, depression, and trauma.    

The Setting:

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Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic follows Aladdin as he asks a Dijinn for a wish. Aladdin is then transported to the real world where he meets Alibaba. The two become fast friends and vow to be by each other’s side. Along the way they meet a slave whose name is Morgiana. 

With the help of Aladdin and Alibaba, Morgiana is sent free. She chooses to follow the boys as a way of making it up to them. The three venture into different lands and find themselves in the presence of a power struggle.

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic utilizes it’s setting very well! The culture, the food, the language, etc. was done beautifully! There are so many different countries and people that make’s it enjoyable to watch. It also helps to give you the full picture without black or white.

It’s also so much fun that some of the characters are based off of The Arabian Nights! Others are based on tales sometimes from religious texts. As a Muslim I didn’t find any of this to be insensitive. Rather I felt that it was dealt it well! There are of course several differences from the actual stories the author used as an influence. I found that to be apart of the appeal.

There is an anime. Which is just two seasons and ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. Plus there is a prequel anime series. It’s one season and also ends on a cliffhanger. The manga series is complete.

Trigger warning: Slavery, torture, abuse, trauma, death, and grief. 

Street Team: Why Own Voices Matter

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The Candle and The Flame Noor's Chosen graphic

Hello everyone! As apart of #TheCandleAndTheFlame street team I am talking about why I think own voices stories matter. Let me know in the comments what you think!

Why Own Voices Matter

When I first heard about the Own voices I didn’t think much about it. I didn’t really understand what that meant and what the entailed regarding books. It wasn’t until there were some own voices books coming up on my feed that I started to take notice and pay attention.

I saw quite a few books being published under own voices. That people were loving and raving about! There were a couple that sounded fantastic based on the representation alone.

It wasn’t until I heard about Salaam Reads,  an imprint whose primary goal is to publish various Muslim stories, that I became truly invested. And begun actively looking for own voices stories.   

I really love the whole idea! I think it’s wonderful that authors are being given a space and a title to write their stories under. While also bringing forth amazing and much needed representation!

I think these stories matter and important for the future generation. I see so much hate and ignorance that could really be avoided by educating the youth. Adults now have much more material to work with in educating the youth about different cultures, races, circumstances, disabilities, mental illnesses, and so much more!

I truly believe that if we can do that we really could be saving a lot of people. Now of course I know this won’t work for everybody and we have such a long way to go, but it’s still a start. And that’s better than nothing.

It also helps for children to see themselves represented! I an adult was overjoyed to see a Muslim book imprint! With that in mind imagine how a child would feel to see themselves.

I do hope that we as people continue to get better with own voices! And not just with books, but all other forms of media as well.

Overall, I believe that having own voices stories can help pave the way to a better future.       

Guest Post: Storytelling

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The Candle and The Flame Noor's Chosen graphic

Hello everyone! As apart of #TheCandleAndTheFlame street team Nafiza has come on my blog to talk about storytelling. Hope you all enjoy this post!

On Storytelling, the City of Noor, and Points of View

This post is in part a response to the reviews of The Candle and the Flame that do not understand the many points of view utilized to tell the story of Noor and in part an exploration into the politics of storytelling and their function apart from the obvious.

As I said on Twitter, I am from a culture that places primary importance on the collective compared to the importance of the individual as pervasive in Western culture. It may surprise you but until I moved to Canada when I was seventeen, I hadn’t thought that I could have a favourite colour, or food, or anything that pointed to my existence as an individual. While growing up, it was always what we liked. You understand the emphasis.

The Candle and the Flame is the story of the City of Noor. While Fatima is the protagonist, she is but one person who lives in the city. You cannot tell the story of the sky from the perspective of one star. Similarly, I couldn’t tell Noor’s story without using multiple POVS. 

For example, Fatima and her sister, Sunaina, speak lovingly of the apartment building they call home but when Bhavya visits the place she is horrified at its dilapidated condition. Multiple points of view, for me, create a richness and texture in the narrative that I wanted to impart in Candle.

As diverse stories become more common in YA literature, I believe we will find that diverse ways of storytelling will also become more popular. Maybe it is because I was raised to value the collective over the individual that I tend towards multiple POVs versus one. Or maybe it is because the story I wanted to tell demands multiple POVs. It also behooves us to beware of the rich tradition of cultures other than our own. Stories are more than an escape, especially for kids. People have written multiple papers on the subject.

Storytelling and stories are also a way to connect the old to the new. They are a way for people to find and celebrate their stories. In difficult times, stories are hope and in happy times stories are a caution not to take the happiness for granted. The Candle and the Flame is a celebration of people and their differences; it is also an ode to a city that is possible in real life. It is also a love letter to my readers from me.

Thank you so much to Nafiza and the street team for this wonderful opportunity!

   

Holiday: Ramadan

Ramadan

Ramadan Mubarak to all of my Muslim friends! May we all have a blessed month and achieve all of our goals. May we gain strength, become closer to Allah and become better Muslims. Aameen  💕