This week, we're dropping by to talk to y'all about something pretty heavy, but incredibly important to us both. It's National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and especially now, this is an issue that affects so many of us, so we wanted to make space to talk about it here because we believe that breaking the stigma is the first step. We talk about how ADHD can influence the risk of suicidal ideation and self-harm, open up about how we’ve been personally affected by it, and share some resources for times of crisis. It’s a weird, awful, difficult time out there, and it’s okay to be not okay. But if you feel overwhelmed or hopeless or alone, there is help for you, and you are deserving of it.
CW/TW: Mental health, ADHD, mild language, suicide, self-harm, depression, discussions of current events including COVID-19 and US politics
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: Text Hello to 741741
Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860
LGBT National Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
Cover art by: Krizia Perito
Theme: There Is A Dark Place
[Music Intro- “There is a Dark Place” by Tom Rosenthal]
00:14 Jordan: Hey everyone, I'm Jordan,
00:15 Lex: And I'm Lex, and this is Or, Learn Parkour, a podcast that is normally about ADHD, still done by two people who have ADHD. We still do. But this week is going to be a little bit different.
00:28 Jordan: As some of you may know, this month, September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, we are smack dab in the middle of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week, and by the time this gets to your ears, it will be National Suicide Prevention Awareness Day, so we wanted to pop in with a little message for you.
Lex: We're here to talk about basically the ways that ADHD and suicide are actually pretty closely linked. We're here to talk a little bit about our own personal experiences with this, and since our podcast is generally about taking care of your mental health, we felt like it was prudent to talk about this...
Jordan: Yeah, we wanted to say something, even if that something is just, this is a thing that a lot of people have some experience with, and whether you're experiencing it first hand or somebody in your life that you love is you're not alone.
01:26 Lex: Yeah, it seems as though the general idea for this whole month, week, and day is to encourage others to reach out and check on their friends, check on their family, and check in with yourself and see where you're at, to do what you can to help people through any sort of mental health episodes or incidents that may lead to or be indicative of suicidal ideation or outright suicide, and we... For sure. Support that,
Lex: If you are feeling as though you're alone and it is your only option, the idea is to let you know that you're not alone,
Jordan: There are resources out there for you... People who can help you work through this.
02:06 Lex: Yeah.
Jordan: And yes, it is super important to check in with your friends, it's important to, I think, have a month like this where we're just opening the conversation to say that this is something that happens... This is something that a lot of people deal with, and just to bring that to the forefront and try and take some of the stigma away because that can be very alienating in and of itself.
02:29 Lex: Yeah, and I think the other thing is that summer is coming to an end, falls on its way, which means winter is on its way, and as I'm sure you're aware, the world, and especially in the US… our world here is bad.
Jordan: It's happening a lot.
Lex: It's a shit show, but it's just really bad. There's some really horrendous people doing horrendous things… a lot of things in life right now for a huge chunk of people are seeming quite hopeless, and so I think with everything happening between the pandemic and the economy and how our government is handling everything and how our government is treating its citizens, it's just gonna be an inevitable fact that suicides are going to see an uptick, they usually do in the winter months as it is, and so I think it's something that we are really obviously unhappy about, this world sucks, but we're also just... It's important to us that this podcast is a community-
Lex: -and we goof a lot, but we're still definitely people who still have a lot of our own shit that we're dealing with, so with all of that in mind, Jordan has collected some numbers and facts and statistics and other such things to present you all with so that you are aware of the potential connections and risks between ADHD and suicide, and then we also... We're gonna just talk a little bit about our own personal experience with this, in case it helps any of you to feel a little less alone, we will also be posting some resources for mental health in general, and also for people who are at risk of suicide or for people who have loved ones who are at risk of suicide. So we are gonna share those resources, the links will be in the episode description, and we have some concrete resources for you all to check out, but we also just wanted to give some space and give a little bit of time to this very serious and very real issue for the ADHD community.
04:38 Jordan: Yeah, we felt like it was worth pointing out, at least with the information that we have in the experience that we have, specifically talking about ADHD here, that people who are at risk here, or people who might be experiencing time that they don't see the end of can look a little bit different than you might expect, sort of a stereotypical movie description of a depressed person or somebody who has just gone through some big life change looks like... And I did not know actually until this month that having ADHD can actually put people at increased risk for considering suicide, and that's not surprising given that even just on its own, ADHD is so commonly co-morbid with disorders that people more commonly realize that's a risk... This is some information that I found in the internet. We will again post the links to all of our sources, but it says, of the 146 million people in the database, they studied 387 million ADHD diagnoses, about 48% of them, women of those diagnosed with ADHD, approximately 85% received at least one prescription for ADHD medication over the study period, research is reported on suicide attempts, 0.1% of the men and 0.2% of the women in tempted suicide at least once, patients with ADHD were significantly more likely to attempt suicide than those without ADHD.
06:08 Jordan: ‘Men were at a 47% increased risk and women were at a 49-fold increased risk. However, it is, I think, worth noting that the risk of a suicide attempt was 39% lower when people with ADHD were taking medications, and that's regardless of whether there was a diagnosis of depression or substance abuse disorder in there, and that study also indicates that out of the entire pool of folks with ADHD, the people who are most at risk were specifically women, and specifically women with combined type ADHD rather than inattentive. If you are in the boat where you or someone that you love is thinking, “Oh, this is not serious enough for me to feel this hopeless, I don't have a reason to be upset. I shouldn't be this sad, I'm not depressed, what's wrong with me,” regardless of what your diagnosis is, if you're feeling like that, that's valid, and you are just as entitled to the resources to help you get through that... Is anybody else, regardless of diagnosis, regardless of gender, the study is broken down in a very gender-binary way, but regardless of whether you're a man or a woman or non-binary or anywhere on the gender spectrum, if what's going on in the world is getting to you, or your brain is just not being kind to you, there are a lot of reasons why, and none of those make you more or less deserving of finding a way through it.
07:30 Lex: Yeah, no, thank you so much for sharing that info, my dear Jordo.
Jordan: Of course.
07:35 Lex: It's interesting to look at and hear about those statistics, especially being a woman with ADHD combined type who has had roughly three different incidents regarding suicidal ideation. I personally have never attempted suicide, but I have gotten to a point where I've needed to call a helpline or chat or text, I guess they're all help lines, so I’ve had three instances like that in my adult life, the first one when I was 19 and the third one, just this past winter. So this is something that's very personal. For both Jordan and I. I've lost friends, I've lost relatives to suicide.
Jordan: I have as well, a lot of the people that I know and hold dear struggle with this sort of thing. I know people that I've lost to that I know that I've had times where I... Before I understood what was going on my brain, I felt so sad that it scared me, so... Yeah, I feel like I can't say enough, regardless of what your background is, regardless of what your diagnosis is, regardless of why you feel that way, regardless of whether you actively have a plan to end your life or hurt yourself in any way, or you're just scared and you don't know what's going on. There are resources for you and you deserve that help.
Lex: And I think it's worth noting too, especially given the statistics surrounding medication, and I know I personally, no matter how life goes, when I've had medication to regulate my emotions, it's incalculable, it seems, the difference there. And so something that Jordan and I are both pretty passionate about, and I'm sure our politics are pretty clear from the get-go in this podcast, but the main...
09:30 Lex: I don't wanna say issue, but the main sticking point that I have a lot of the time with Suicide Prevention Awareness and the resources that we're given for that is not that those resources exist, 'cause I think it's so important. And I think it's really important too to take care of people, to take care of each other. But there is something to be said about a system where that is one of the highest causes of death in young people and women. When suicide is so prevalent and when studies have shown the clear difference in how healthcare and especially good mental health care can prevent any sort of suicidal ideation because they're supported by not just their loved ones, but they have access to medication if they needed to, have access to therapy if they need it, and they have access to health care that is non-judgmental and accessible and cheap, right?
10:26 Jordan: No, that makes perfect sense.
10:28 Jordan: It’s a systemic issue and points to a need in the healthcare system, and I think it points to a need in society at large, because like you said, we see suicide rates, go up in winter, but we also see suicide rates go up during economic issues and recessions, and when the stock market's not doing great, and-
10:49 Lex: After celebrity deaths, when viral videos go around of people dying by suicide, there is a clear issue here.
Lex: it's not fair to expect individuals to be able to have the training and the capacity to completely prevent those things, and I think the issue with saying things like, “Well, you know, you just need to check on your friends and family. And if you know someone who's struggling with this, like just do what you can to help them,” and it's not your fault, if someone still passes away and it's not on you to fix other people-
Jordan: -and worth noting it's not your fault or on you that they feel suicidal.
11:30 Jordan: In the first place, no matter what they do about it, it's not because of who you are or what you've done, or what you haven't done, ever, ever, ever.
11:39 Lex: Yeah, and we know it's a sticky issue, we know that there are gray areas and there are times when you can help people and that's great, but there should be an emphasis placed on how you vote, and what sort of policies you support-
Jordan: and what sort of communities you build in a complete holistic sense... Yep, it's-
11:59 Lex: Kind of a both and situation...
12:01 Jordan: We're not here to be super clear, we're not here to dump on any of the people saying on your friends,
Lex: That’s good!
Jordan: We're just saying that a tree that's big up tape on the massive leaking cylinder of society.
Lex: Yeah, and while it may keep the leak from happening for a little bit, it doesn't fix the pipe... Oh, and also defund the police, because police are the number one responders to incidents of suicide and cannot stress enough how unhelpful that is,
Jordan: there have been multiple accounts of people attempting to get the police called on them as an act of suicide, and when that's an option in our society, you know something has gone horrifically wrong...
Lex: Yeah, so not to mince words here, but universal health care, defund the police, and check on your friends.
12:45 Jordan: And check on your friends.
12:47 Lex: Also take care of yourself if you can, because the unfortunate reality of the world we're living in right now is that we don't have those resources always available to everyone, so... Yup, it's happening. Things sure happen.
Jordan: I mean, as Troy Bolton always said, “we're all in this together,” whatever this may be in the circumstance.
13:08 Lex: We both really wanted to make this episode, we know it's short, we know it's a big old bummer, but also life can be a big ol’ f****** bummer, so...
13:17 Jordan: Yeah, but I think, like we said at the top of this episode, even just starting the conversation is worth doing, that's what we're here to hopefully help facilitate...
13:25 Lex: Yeah, and then we're gonna share the concrete resources that can help you if you're in a pinch, basically...
13:32 Jordan: Yeah, there's a lot of help lines, there's a lot of advice online of how to take care of yourself when you're feeling something like that. There are some great apps, I love “Calm Harm, “ harm calm? I am blanking on the name of… but it's like a self-harm prevention app and just wonderful. I'm not paid to say that it's just a good app, it also helps a lot with anxiety, which is what I use it for. There's a lot of support from folks who have gone through this and can look back from the other side and say, “Here's what I went through...” That's all on the internet. I don't know if you get online, there's also a bunch of lists of like, Here are some things to live for, and I'll be honest, sometimes those are helpful, sometimes they're not... Don't let any of that deter you if it doesn't connect with you, because we all experience this differently, if you need to just not survive for the next sunset or the next album that your behind puts out, or your next time you hug a dog. That's fine, if you just need to survive out of spite right now, that works just fine. If you just need to look at your mental illness or the state of the world or your brain chemistry and say, “not all come out here and kill me like a real man, get your act together like another disease and shut down my organs yourself instead of trying to get me to do it myself you coward?” That's also valid.
14:50 Lex: Oh yeah.
Jordan: Whatever works. That's helped me sometimes there's no one size fits all, that’s all to say.
Lex: like I mentioned earlier, and I don't feel comfortable sharing the intimate details 'cause this is still podcast and
15:06 Jordan: You don't have to prove the seriousness of your life to anybody else...
15:11 Lex: Yeah, no, exactly. But all that to say, one thing that really helped me was just telling Jordan what was going on, I don't even remember what I said to her, but I just told her that I was not having a good time and that I had contacted... A lifeline sort of chat and that I was just gonna sit and watch Letterkenny, and Jordan just offered to sit with me and watch letterkenny with me while I just survived and now... Sometimes that's all you can do.
Lex: And who's to say what was motivating me beyond... If I get to the next step, so I'll get to hear more about Canada gooses. No, and I'm not saying Letterkenny kept me from spiraling into a deep hole of suicidal ideation, but I’m not not saying that...
Jordan: Whatever works.
Lex: So, thank you. Thank you, Jared Keeso. I don't know, and in all seriousness, but also not that serious because it's my trauma and my emotions and I can joke about it if I wanna, but also really though, if all of that's getting you through is “oh, maybe I can get to the next episode of Taskmaster if I wait a week,” that's fine. Just do you gotta do. Cause life sucks right now. Like the country sucks right now... And people who are in charge of things also super suck right now.
16:30 Jordan: Yeah. A lot of us are very, very isolated, it's very hard to plan for the future right now. There's a lot of unknowns, and that makes it really, really easy to feel out of control,
Lex: especially right now, where the huge chunk of us are unemployed and the government just kind of decided that “we'll be fine, we'll survive, right, they can just eat food out of the trash cans.” Right, that's what I imagine people in Congress are saying, they're just...
Jordan: Once they run out of bread, they can eat cake, right.
17:00 Lex Yeah, exactly.
Jordan: So now, more than ever-
Lex: -super isolated-
Jordan: -you’re not alone.
Lex: No money, no jobs, no opportunities. It's a rough time, and I would be lying if I said that I wasn't struggling. And so I think I wanna be transparent about that as well, and that Jordan and I feel like this is really important, because I have a wonderful support system but I'm still struggling with these things. So the fact that my life is as rich and full as it is, and I'm still struggling… I can only imagine what other people are going through right now, and so I think it's just really important to me and it's really important to Jordan too... This is a thing that you should be paying attention to if you're not. And that if you are struggling with this and if you already have been paying attention and we’re just preaching to the choir: you're not alone, there's a choir to preach to.
Jordan: Right. Absolutely, absolutely.
Lex: Yeah. We're not health professionals, but we will link resources in our episode description.
17:59 Jordan: Yes, and if there is anything else that you have questions about in terms of navigating this sort of thing, in terms of how ADHD and other co-morbid disorders relates to this, in terms of if you are the people preaching to the choir, where else you can get involved please reach out to us. Our Twitter's open, our emails are open, we wanna be a part of this community because we need to be. Because when we don't have the support systems, and we talked about earlier, like appropriate healthcare and like societal things, we have each other.
Lex: Community is so, so, so important.
Jordan: So reach out to us if there's any other directions we can help point you-
Lex: -or if you just want to see some pictures of our cats!
Jordan: Please reach out to us for pictures of our cats. I would actually love that? I have so many good pictures of Ned that I have just been sitting on...
18:51 Lex: Yeah, actually we talked about this, so maybe I'll post this after the episode drops, that video... We have a video, it's like maybe half a minute, a minute long,
Jordan: I think it's like a minute.
Lex: it's like a whole minute of Jordan's beautiful son.
19:03 Jordan: My sweet, sweetest boy,
Lex: just making so many biscuits
Jordan: lost in the fluffy blanket sauce.
Lex: I have a really good fuzzy blanket. And Ned has just been,
Jordan: he's just claimed it as his own... That's Nedland.We will definitely post that video.
Lex: Yeah, we will post that video, I will say any fluffy surface in this apartment does not belong to us. if it's fluffy and soft and you can make good cat biscuits. Ned has claimed it.
Jordan: He knows what he's about and I respect that.
19:30 Lex: And Rootbeer will get in there too. Sometimes she makes just a little bit of bread.
19:34 Jordan: Just a little brunch batch o’ biscuits.
Lex: Just like some beignets.
Jordan: Mmm, love that. Speaking of things that make us happy though: for this week's dopamine trampoline, how would you feel about sharing your favorite self-care thing to do?
19:51 Jordan: Does that feel cheesy?
Lex: No, I don't think that's cheesy. I think in terms of self-care, I have different levels: easiest, cheapest, most accessible self-care, that may not be the best physical self-care, but it gives me the dopamine guaranteed. It’s McDonald's root beer. And you ask why McDonald's root beer specifically? Well, I'll tell you, Coca-Cola and McDonald to have a specific contract, so that McDonalds is the only company in the entire world that can take coke’s flavors for sodas and drinks and change them just a little bit so that they're specific to the McDonald's brand.
Jordan: That's so wild to me.
Lex: So it's a bummer 'cause I cannot get this delicious crispy bubbly root beer anywhere else, but McDonald's has a version of Barq’s root beer that is sublime.
Jordan: It is definitely the crispiest.
Lex: And it’s only a dollar. So it is freakishly accessible, and it's also a very easy way for loved ones in my life to be like, “Hey, I see you're having a hard time right now, I'm gonna get you a soda, here you go,” and then I'm like, “Thank you. I love you so much.” So I have that level of self-care, or I could do the stereotypical self-care where it's like pampering yourself, and if it's pampering yourself, it's gotta be Lush face masks and in a pinch, just painting my nails.
Jordan: There you go!
21:15 Lex: Cause most people do have at least one or two nail polish colors. I have many...
Jordan: She does. This is very true, and I benefit from her collection greatly, so thanks for that.
Lex: I love painting my nails. And then if it's like a for real, I settle in, buckle up, 'cause we're gonna have a self-care and night, then it'll include McDonalds root beer, it'll include Lush face masks, it'll include painting my nails. It'll include watching Letterkenny, it'll include wrapping my whole body in a fluffy blanket, and those are generally my go-to. If I'm actually having a really bad day, I will sit down and watch Letterkenny. If you haven't heard of Letterkenny, it's a fantastic divine peak comedic show out of Canada, and you can see it on Hulu.
Jordan: Yeah, I was gonna say… if you haven't heard of Letterkenny, then why are you starting with episode 4.5 about suicide? We've definitely mentioned it before, so there's no way you got this far through the rest of the other episodes without us mentioning it.
Lex: Or at least referencing it, I don't think I've necessarily mentioned it by name every episode, but I think there is at least one Letterkenny reference-
22:23 Jordan: Absolutely-
Lex: -in every episode.
Jordan: But hey, if you listen to or read through this whole bummer, maybe now is the time to go check out Letterkenny.
Lex: It's so so good, so that gives me a straight dopamine hit. Oh, also, I talked about this a little bit last week, video games, and specifically right now, like right now, in these buck wild stupid ass uncertain times, I've been playing this new video game on Steam and I think it's out on some other platforms as well, but it was just released at the end of August, it's called Spiritfarer, and it's a game where you have replaced Chiron, the ferryman of the underworld in ancient Greek mythology. You replaced him, and now you are walking spirits to death door, and that sounds really, really depressing. And it does make me cry, but it is also one of the most beautiful, soothing, loving games I've played in so long, and so that right now has been my go-to, I just listed a lot of things, I like to do things to make my dopamine pop off. So what about you?
Jordan: There's a lot of different types of self-care that I feel are worth mentioning that are outside of the typically perceived realm of self-care of pampering, and taking a bath (as much as I love taking a bath, don't get me wrong, bath life for life) and things like that. There are also important, but less fun, self-care things to do of like getting your teeth cleaned and going through your drawers and things like that. My favorite self-care activities are just nice sensory experiences, like tactile sensory experiences, and if I am at home and just in and having a rough time, my weitghted blanket is a 10 out of 10 soothing item. Shout out to my brother Ross for buying it for me for Christmas also, Happy Birthday, 'cause we're recording this on your birthday.
Lex: Oh yeah,Happy Birthday Ross.
Jordan: Also, I just got a new cover for my weighted blanket that's made out of bamboo-
Lex: It is so cute, y’all.
Jordan: It's very cute! And it's also really smooth and soft, and it's cooling material, so it's cool to the touch, and then it just is like laying underneath a hug. I love my weighted blanket, I know they're not for everybody, but as a person with ADHD and anxiety, I don't know what I would do without mine, I don't know how I slept before it, so 10 out of 10 for the weighted blanket. If I'm up for leaving the house, sometimes that and of itself can be a nice self-care thing to do- to move and get a change of scenery. But specifically getting out of the house to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond, and then touching all of the towels because they're soft.
25:16 Lex: Yeah, unfortunately, that's a no-go for several reasons at this point in history.
25:22 Jordan: Now, not a thing that I do. But college days, absolutely. It's a nice textural thing, the light is so bland and the music is so bland, and it's usually empty, it's kind of a nice solitary experience, and then it's methodical, 'cause you just go through the rows of them. It's like that scene from Amelie where she's putting her hands into the bag of rice- Don't say it.
Lex: I am-
25:45 Jordan: Don't say it.
Lex: - suppressing-
Jordan: Don’t you dare-
Lex: I am suppressing, so- I won't because I don't want the McElroys to literally come and beat us up-
25:58 Jordan: The podcast snipers are just waiting, finger on the trigger. But you know where she's putting her hands into the bag of rice and beans and stuff, and it feels really nice. That's what I got.
26:08 Lex: Hell yeah. I will say, I understand that there are forms of self-care that aren't necessarily fun, as Jordan said, And for me, leaving the house is never fun, I don't like going for walks unless I'm literally going to the outdoor outdoors, not just around our block in Chicago, but those are very good things for me to do, and they definitely are acts of self-care and I feel better after I do them, but since Jordan asked what my favorites were, I told you the like really lazy gushy ones.
26:38 Jordan: Your favorites are valid. I just to make sure and touch that base of not being two white women sitting here going, “Yeah, face masks!”
26:46 Lex: Oh yeah, no, that's where I'm like, I recognize that. That's like stereotypical self-care.
Jordan: But if it works, it works.
Lex: Uh huh.
Jordan: Yeah! Well, that I believe is all we have for you today. Take care of yourself, take care of each other. Suicide Prevention Awareness month goes until end of the month, 'cause that's kind of how months work…
Alexa: Is it?
27:10 Jordan: So I've been told, but I don't think times real anymore, so.
Lex: It's not, but sure.
27:14 Jordan: We will keep you updated as the situation develops in the meantime, this is been Or, Learn Parkour.
27:20 Lex: Thank you so much for tuning in.
27:22 Jordan: We will post the links to the normal things we post, such as our cover art and our theme song, and our references in our episode description, as well as some of the resources that we mentioned this episode for you or for loved ones who might be struggling right now.
27:39 Lex: We love y'all, we have a small community right now, but it's a good one, and we're very happy to be a part of that and... Yeah, like Jordan said, just take care of ourselves, we don't have any funny jokes or questions to play us out this time 'cause that'd be wild, that'd be a real cold, cold take on how to end an episode about suicide prevention
Jordan: … tastes bad.
Lex: Yeah, it's not a good one.
Jordan: So we will just say, See you next week.
Lex: Yeah, see you next week.