Teen Mom OG star Catelynn Lowell has been open about her struggles with mental health and postpartum depression, and on Friday she shared surprising news with fans: She’s seeking treatment for suicidal thoughts.
“Well today I thought of every way to kill myself… so I’m going to treatment,” the 25-year-old wrote on Twitter, before referencing Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington, who died by suicide in July. “#MakeChesterProud #KeepTalkingMH #thiswontlast.” She later posted a followup tweet that showed a close-up of a tattoo that read, “My story isn’t over yet.”
Lowell’s husband Tyler Baltierra shared a photo of himself and his wife on Instagram on Saturday, noting that he had just taken Lowell to a treatment center. “We haven’t held each other & just cried like that for a long time. Even after 12 years, I continue to be AMAZED by her strength, vulnerability, & courage to get help. ‘As long as I am alive, you will never be alone” – It is my call to arms & I will fight this war with her right by her side, we will not surrender to this…I will go to battle EVERY TIME for her!”
It’s not uncommon for people to have suicidal thoughts at some point, but it’s important that these thoughts are taken seriously.
Having fleeting thoughts of what life would be like if you weren’t around is “more common than people think,” especially among children and teens, licensed professional counselor Phyllis Alongi, clinical director at the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, tells SELF.
That said, all suicidal thoughts should be taken seriously and deserve attention from a mental health professional, Alongi says. And if you find yourself thinking about it for an extended period of time, creating a plan, and intending to actually go through with it, those are signs that you need immediate help.
Treatment isn’t one-size-fits-all—and there are a few ways you can go about getting it.
If you’re concerned for your safety, Alongi says it’s important to call 911 immediately. Or, if you’re dealing with ongoing suicidal thoughts and you know you need help, you may want to tell a family member or close friend and speak to a psychologist or therapist. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 to speak with a trained counselor who can help and give you a referral to someone in your area.
Once you’re in touch with a mental health professional, they’ll ask you a series of questions designed to assess the severity of your risk, Alongi explains. That typically includes questions like, “How long have you had these thoughts?” “Do you know what brought that on?” Or, “Do you have a plan?” Once the assessment is done, a mental health provider will make a treatment recommendation that may include inpatient hospitalization, outpatient counseling, or a mixture of both. Depending on your risk, you may be hospitalized immediately or given instructions for what to do next, Alongi says.
Suicidal thoughts are complicated and treatment is unique to each person.
It’s easy to assume that someone is having suicidal thoughts because something bad happened in their life or because they have depression. But Alongi says it’s usually more complex than that—and there’s almost never just a single factor leading someone to suicidal thoughts.
Plus, the issues that may be contributing to these thoughts usually take time to resolve, which is why it’s so important to make it easy for people dealing with those thoughts to seek help and actually follow through with treatment, Christine Moutier, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, tells SELF. Both in-patient and out-patient treatment typically involves talk therapy, she says, and it’s important to give yourself time to work through things while in therapy.
“Suicide risk stems from a lot of deep places—childhood experiences, genetics, early trauma, as well as present-day experiences,” Dr. Moutier says. So it might be difficult or unpleasant to get into those issues at first. “That’s OK. Just keep on with it as long as you feel some level of confidence that you’ve found the right mental health provider,” Dr. Moutier says.
Once you start treatment, tell trusted family members and friends that you need them to be there for you as you go through the process. People are often at their highest risk for suicide in the days and weeks following seeking help, Dr. Moutier says, so it’s important to get ongoing help and support when you can.
Most of all, don’t give up: It can—and will—get better.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.