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Monday, July 29, 2013

Depression And Suicide In SL Part 3- Avoid The Final Solution To A Temporary Problem - Interview with Krissy Sinclair - Orchids Reports…

To be, or not to be: that is the question:-

-William Shakespeare

Second life is a place which surprises me on a daily basis with wondrous Avis doing work that amaze with the resourcefulness. Depression and its sinister companion Suicide is one issue which is difficult to deal with. We had a look at the groups in SL in part 1 of the series. The Survivors of Suicide stood out with its unpretentiousness and honesty.
This is a group for those whose life has been impacted by depression, suicide, attempted suicide themself or have lost someone to suicide. We must break the silence on this epidemic. We offer real life and second life support, education and info. We offer RL resources for recovery and healing.”
I found folks who are fighting a tough battle to overcome their own personal challenges and helping others on the way.

The best fights are the ones fought against the challenges within ourselves.

Krissy Sinclair (Survivors of Suicide Founder): I am a real life person who deals with depression since I was a teen.  I have a master’s degree in social work and spent many years being an outpatient therapist before going into administration. But I am more than that; I am an artist, a good friend, silly, and creative... I am more than the illness of depression.

Orchids: What does the Presspass/ Survivors of suicide mean to you?
Krissy Sinclair: They are separate groups.  The goal of press media group is to help the press find out things and to communicate with in the group.
Survivors of Suicide is a peer to peer run group. That means we have all deal with depression and we help each other through it. We offer support.  We don't offer treatment or therapy. The groups belief is that therapy should be done in real life, as you can’t have confidentiality inworld and you open yourself up to much risk, trusting that someone is who they say there are and have training to do therapy. We help people find real life help in real life.  We also use our groups chat as a 24/7 support group. Someone is always online in the group. So support is only an IM away.  We also post daily positive living articles.

Orchids checked up on that statement on various occasions and was rewarded immediately with a response …
2013/07/24  [08:08 am]  Orchids: hello...
        [08:08 am]  CD: hello
 2013/07/25   [06:23 pm]  Orchids: hello   
                     [06:24 pm]  Albion Innis: hello hello :O))
                     [06:25 pm]  Joe (joe.utherwurldly): Greetings and good morning
2013/07/26   [03:28 am]  Orchids: hello :)
                     [03:31 am]  Key-478 (insanityobsession): Hi

Orchids: How can virtual worlds help people with depression or suicidal tendencies?
Krissy:  One of the most predominant symptoms of depression is feeling alone.  You can feel this way whether it is true or not.  This feeling is just one of many symptoms.  So SL can help with the feelings of isolation.   SL can also be used for education about depression and mental illness, education about treatment options.  It can also be used to fight stigma and educate the public.
Orchids: Some feel that virtual worlds can increase the sense of loneliness and worsen depression….
Krissy : As with all things there may be some who are troubled by spending too much time in second life, but the other side of the coin is it offers those that are house bound for whatever reason friendship. SL isn’t the cause of depression, but might be a tool that a depressed person might use to reach out and limit the feelings of isolation that tends to come with depression

Orchids: How do you deal when approached for help from someone who seems suicidal?

Krissy: If someone is suicidal, the first thing I ask is if they have a plan, so I can gage how serious they are at risk.  Then we talk, I hear them out and try to provide a place of acceptance and support.  The fact that they reached out to talk to me is a very positive sign. 

Now the thing you have to understand with SL is that if someone decides to harm themselves there is very little you can do, it you don’t know there real name and where they live.

 SL has a policy. Here is their policy:

  "Can I get account information on someone I am worried about?
Sorry, but no; that would violate the terms of our Privacy Policy. However, here are some links you or your friend might find useful:
 Befrienders maintain an extensive list of suicide-prevention hotlines organized by country.
 Befrienders is itself a worldwide volunteer-based organization that, in its own words, works to "provide help to those in need of emotional support, in order to reduce the number of people who die by suicide, and enable people to explore their feelings in an anonymous, confidential and non-judgmental environment."

Orchids: Have you suffered from depression/suicidal thoughts or had somebody personal go through it?
Krissy: Yes I have depression and I am comfortable talking about it.  I have dealt with it off and on since I was a teen.  Depression for me is a chronic episodic illness that I have learned to manage.  For me treatment has worked.
Orchids: do you still suffer from depression? How do you cope?
Krissy: I do still have depression, for me it seems to be a chronic condition. That happens to some people. For many people depression can be a one time occurrence or episodic throughout their life me.  To cope I work with my doctor, I get treatment and I go to a therapist as I need. I have learned my early warning sign when my depression is worsening and then I seek out my treatment team of my regular doctor, psychiatrist and therapist. Sometimes depression can be caused by physical illness, such as hypothyroidism or diabetes.

Orchids: Have you felt overwhelmed anytime?

Krissy: Yes I have felt that, as I also have depression. When I feel that way, for me the answer is to talk to my friends and get support and talk to my doctor and to see a therapist if needed.  I try and follow the advice I give others, for myself

Orchids: What are the forms of depression in SL that you have come across?

Krissy: There are a few forms of depression as identified in the DSM V-"here are several forms of depressive disorders.

Major depressive disorder, or major depression, is a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person's ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. Some people may experience only a single episode within their lifetime, but more often a person may have multiple episodes. Depression is a common but serious illness. Most who experience depression need treatment to get better.

Dysthymic disorder, or dysthymia, is characterized by long-term (2 years or longer) symptoms that may not be severe enough to disable a person but can prevent normal functioning or feeling well. People with dysthymia may also experience one or more episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.

 Minor depression is characterized by having symptoms for 2 weeks or longer that do not meet full criteria for major depression. Without treatment, people with minor depression are at high risk for developing major depressive disorder.
Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances. However, not everyone agrees on how to characterize and define these forms of depression. They include:

 Psychotic depression, which occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false beliefs or a break with reality (delusions), or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations).

 Postpartum depression, which is much more serious than the "baby blues" that many women experience after giving birth, when hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.

 Seasonal effective disorder (SAD), which is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. The depression generally lifts during spring and summer. SAD may be effectively treated with light therapy, but nearly half of those with SAD do not get better with light therapy alone. Antidepressant medication and psychotherapy can reduce SAD symptoms, either alone or in combination with light therapy.

Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, is not as common as major depression or dysthymia. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes—from extreme highs (e.g., mania) to extreme lows (e.g., depression). More information about bipolar disorder is available.
All forms of depression are found in second life like real life.

Orchids: How would you recognize depression or suicidal tendencies within oneself or in others?

Krissy: Well often people are suspecting they have depression and then they ask me and I provide education about what the symptoms are.
"Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms. It’s important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life’s normal lows. But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they’ve lasted—the more likely it is that you’re dealing with depression. When these symptoms are overwhelming and disabling, that's when it's time to seek help.

Common signs and symptoms of depression

Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
Loss of interest in daily activities. No interest in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).
Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain. "

Symptoms of suicide
"Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with depression can make suicide feel like the only way to escape the pain. Thoughts of death or suicide are a serious symptom of depression, so take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously. It's not just a warning sign that the person is thinking about suicide: it's a cry for help.
Warning signs of suicide include:
Talking about killing or harming one’s self
Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
Acting recklessly, as if they have a death wish (e.g. speeding through red lights)
 Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
Getting affairs in order (giving away prized possessions, tying up loose ends)
Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out”
A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy”

Orchids: There is a misplaced concept that if someone speaks about suicide they will not "go through with it". Comment please.

Krissy: It will not make someone contemplate committing suicide by asking them about it. It is important to ask if someone is feeling suicidal, so you can help intervene if they are. For someone to be thinking of suicide --- that tells you they are really hurting and need help immediately.

Orchids: What are your experiences in helping Avis in SL?
Krissy:  have had the honor to meet many wonderful people in the SOS group.  I have had the honor to know some of them since the beginning of the group.  I have watched many people get better and learn more coping skills, so if they do have a reoccurrence of depression do better.  
I have met a lovely lady from the Europe who I have known a long time and she joined our group when she was at a very low point, now she volunteers with us.

Orchids asked group members their experiences in the SOS:

Chloe Louise: Well SOS has helped me a lot.  It helped me recover from a pain killer overdose and helped me get better with my depression hence I am now helping them back as a mentor here…. plus i got the extra load of being a transgendered man aka male to female trans ... my trans issue,  college and life in general just got a bit too much for me to handle so i over dosed on pain killers 28 of them had to spend 2nights in hospital…. yep and I’m still fighting with it…

Joe (joe.utherwurldly): I am a 3 year SOSer and eventually made a moderator... quite honestly it's literally saved my life on multiple occasions…  one of the things I try to stress with those new to the group is we are peer to peer support, much like an AA model….  we aren't clinically trained but we have been down the same roads as many who continue to suffer with depression or suicidal ideation….in many ways the friendships formed in here have MASSIVELY impacted my own life
My RL GF moved halfway across the country for us to get together..we "met" in SOS and were very active in it..we've been together now near 2 years. We still both  offer our help here ….. in many ways the support network of friendships made here has literally saved us both from doing stupid decisions. We're not perfect by far as a group.. but with as much humility as possible..we are the best. People in here form bonds and we grow friendships and that forms support networks….  for some the only ones they have as even RL family aren't there for them. Personally I consider every SOSer family as I'm one of those without RL support not counting my GF of course :)…. we're just people reaching out and offering an ear or shoulder to others and honestly there's a healing side to that as well for myself.

Albion Innis: I am an EX victim of depression…  now VICTOR....  I did come very close to taking my own life…. I used a pic of the old SOS memorial to illustrate a point in my book "How to Fix Depression". While Krissy and her friends are there with their candles shining in the darkness - I am working at the other end, doing my best to try to keep the need for more candles at bay in the best way I know how. I basically worked out how to "Fix" depression and spent like 3 years (plus) researching to fix my own head then decided I should write it up to help others and joined up the SOS group . I just take my hat off to Krissy for keeping it all going and doing all the notices and stuff. I really think what Krissy does is fantastic… all the notes she sends out and running meetings, etc.

Key-478 (insanityobsession): Uhm..I feel very well in this group. From the beginning, Krissy and everyone were helping me when i needed them.. We're a family. We're ready to support each other. I'm happy to be part of this group.

Orchids: What is the most common age group you have come across?
Krissy: From 18-70 all ages are affected.
Orchids: Do you find gender differences in depression in SL?
Krissy: Yes this is a big question.  Often depression in men can be expressed externally; it can be anger or irritability.  But that can also happen in women; it is just more frequently shown in men.
Orchids: Have you come across Avis with Postpartum Depression (PPD)? Do they have suicidal tendencies too?
Krissy: Yes it is possible to have be suicidal and have post partum depression and yes we have group members dealing with this
Orchids: Has anything surprised you in dealing with this?
Krissy: I thought when I first started the support group that I would maybe see like only up to 25 people join.  But we have over 400 members and keep growing.  People tend to stay in the group, so that tells me they are getting some needs met through the group.  We are a place to vent, to find solidarity, to escape loneliness and learn about depression so we can limit its impact on our lives.

Orchids: What mistakes have you made?
Krissy: I don’t have any regrets; this is a wonderful family of people, that are as supportive of me as I am of them.   There really has been very little trouble if any.

Orchids: What have you learned?
Krissy: I have learned that humans are amazingly resilient in healing and showing love to one another. 
 Orchids: What would you like to tell the ones who have depression and are reading this?
Krissy: I would tell them you’re not alone, and you don't have to be alone.  There is hope and treatment works.
|Orchids: How do you distinguish the one genuinely suffering from depression/suicidal feelings and the one who is seeking validation or self pity?
Krissy: If someone is seeking attention then something is going wrong in their life and they deserve help.  Acting out is sometimes someone way of asking for help when they don’t have the words. 
.Orchids:  Have you seen incidents where an Avi was harassed and preyed upon because of their depression?
Krissy: Sadly, I have seen people with and without depression that have been harassed and preyed upon in SL.

Orchids: What are the best resources in your knowledge for help for depression/suicidal issues in SL?
Krissy: I think the SOS group is one of the best resources in SL as we cross the boundaries and help people also find real life help to.

Orchids: The Bridge between RL and SL for those who need help?
Krissy: WE use the World Wide Web to find support group, suicide hot lines, counselors and doctors for people all around the world.

Orchids says…
Many of you asked me what makes me attempt this difficult article …

While nothing in life is permanent, if you go today, you may just miss the greatest time that this life could have given you. Why not experience it before leaving since you are already here.
That’s a small albeit imperfect wish unfulfilled now forever that I wanted to tell my friend ….. if only he had told me before he left …and I wish I had understood the signs of your need to leave…


*Please note that the information shared on the SL Enquirer and in this article are thoughts and opinions of Second Life residents and do not claim to be nor should be taken as professional help. If you think that you may be depressed or feeling suicidal, professional help is need. You can reach out to your doctor or local church for resources that can help in your recovery process.


  1. Very nice and helpful article. I really appreciate the stand taken by SLE to entertain, help and educate everyone with RL/SL issues. I know the sacrifices made to run a paper of this caliber and I am grateful that the CEO and writers of the SL Enquirer are sticking to it. Thank you for all your hard work.
    Prince Sonoda

  2. Thank you for the encouraging words. When people like Lanai and now Krissy and then all the members of a group like SOS come forward, it augers well for the future in battling many a problem which saps strength away and makes people less than what they truly can achieve.

    Responses and encouragement from you as a reader gives a good feeling that at-least we reached out to one person who liked and felt like sharing his views too. Thank you!

  3. I think the phrase "If Only" should be banished from our vocabulary. "If only I had played those Lotto numbers, I would be a millionaire right now" (if you had played those numbers, maybe a different set of numbers would have won). "If only I had asked her to dance, she wouldn't have gone home with that other guy" (maybe she had already made plans to go home with him anyway). "If only I had recognized his suicidal tendencies, he would still be alive today" (even if you had recognized the symptoms, he could have taken his own life two seconds later).

    No one can say for certain that any single action would cause or prevent something from occurring in the future. There are too many things that could happen, too many variables to calculate, too many ways that the end result would be the same no matter what you did or didn't do. So Orchids, please don't beat yourself up about your friend. Raise a glass and drink a toast to his memory, and then step into your own future, free of guilt. It wasn't your fault.

  4. @ GreenLantern.... you make a strong yet a very practical and insightful point. You are right. Although I do my work and go ahead in whatever spheres I'm working on right now... it must be there somewhere at the back of my mind.. the if only words ...
    Thank you GreenLantern. It needs some "going through" and experience in life to be able to think in such form and substance as you have done.


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