In honor of National Suicide Prevention Month, I would like to talk about some difficult topics. In this post, I will be discussing suicide and self harm in depth.
Did you know that in 2013 there was a study that stated that adoptees are 4 times more likely to commit suicide? Why does this fact get pushed down? Why doesn’t everyone know this? Why don’t more people talk about this? Let’s face it, people are scared of having the hard conversations. People don’t like feeling uncomfortable. People don’t like to talk about things that make others feel uncomfortable .
So, why is it more likely for adoptees to commit suicide? I think some of the main reasons is because adoptees are prone to feel unwanted, unlovable, and not enough. These feelings can arise because the first person we knew (biological mom) gave us up. For me, I have definitely felt this in relationships and even friendships. It’s hard feeling like no matter what you do, your friends/boyfriend will not love you for who you are. Let adoptees feel these emotions. Let them express them to you.
Often times, we are expected to just be “grateful.” This is extremely damaging to adoptees. Of course we are grateful to be in a family that takes care of us, but by telling us how “lucky” we are, it makes us feel like our trauma attached to adoption doesn’t matter. It causes us to think something is wrong with us because we feel all these complex feelings and everyone around us is telling us how lucky we are and how we should just be grateful. I’ve read story after story about adoptees numbing the pain by cutting, self medicating, and doing drugs to numb the pain because they feel like their feelings aren’t valid.
Another big reason I think adoptee suicide rate is so high is because we often don’t know our medical history. I don’t know if mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety runs in my family, just like so many other adoptees. Therefore, it is harder to get help and catch the problems early on. Luckily for me, I have a family who supported me through getting me therapy when I needed it, but some families don’t even think that it’s necessary. For example, let’s say my great grandpa, grandma, and birth dad all had severe depression. That would inherit to me. My adoptive parents ignore the signs, because they have no idea it runs in my biological family. These mental health issues without help can cause self harm and possibly suicide.
So, parents or family members of adoptees, let your kids express the hard emotions. Remind them that they are normal things to be feeling in their position. Get professional help if needed. Tell them you love them often. Let them know they are here for a reason.
Adoptees, know your worth. Remember that their is a whole community of people standing behind you. Stay strong.