Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Hear You: Responding to Cries for Emotional Help from Huffington Post

Cries for emotional help come in all forms. We witness these cries in ways direct and indirect: from outright requests to help me stay alive to the less direct but no less obvious self-starvation of anorexia or leaving empty pill bottles or illegal drugs in plain sight.

We recently witnessed a modern-age cry for help when Sinead O'Connor declared on Twitter: "does any1 know a psychiatrist in dublin or wicklow who could urgently see me today please? im really un-well... and in danger." Why a celebrity needs Twitter to find a psychiatrist is beyond me. Sure, we can all quip about how hard it is to get an appointment with a doctor, but I suspect that is not what this was about.

Nor can I know since I am not personally familiar with this celebrity, her medical community or resources, or for that matter her state of mind when she turned to such a ubiquitous form of social media for help. But as a psychiatrist I understand how people reach out in ways that we need to listen to: The ultimate fear is that they will find no one there, which is the saddest situation of all. Suicide, as has been said, is not just the product of hopelessness; it is the result of believing that you are all alone, with no one to turn to and no means of exiting from the psychic pain that is crushing your soul.

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