Suicide And Dissociative Identity Disorder


Dissociative identity disorder or DID has several relevant concerns that patients and families of patients with the illness should be aware of, one of which is a suicide risk. People with DID are among the highest groups for suicide and suicide attempt. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) reported that over 70% of patients with the illness have tried to commit suicide; hence, multiple suicidal attempts are also common. Most of these patients are hesitant to visit their psychiatrist, especially when they are depressed, and so they turn to online therapy for help, which has had varying outcomes.

What are the triggers that push these DID patients to attempt suicide? Why are they so deep down with their depression that they would want to end their life? And can these suicidal thoughts be prevented?

Fact 1. Trauma and abuse during childhood increase the likelihood of suicide in patients with DID.

A lot of studies in the past were performed, and the outcomes have presented evidence of an unquestionable connection between suicide risk and childhood trauma. Constant battering, inappropriate discipline, verbal abuse, and sexual abuse in the past undeniably lead to a tremendously higher risk of suicide when the child becomes an adolescent and adult. Fact is that 90% of individuals with dissociative identity disorder have a history of childhood violence, neglect, and abuse. Thus, it makes sense that suicide risk is quite high. Child abuse plays a very crucial role.

Daniel Reidenberg, PsyD says “We know that when suicide is romanticized or glorified, that too leads to suicide contagion.” Take note that some children have suicidal issues. “Every family’s experience in the days, weeks, and months following a child’s suicide attempt is different,” according to Krystle Herbert, LMFT, PsyD. 

Fact 2. There are certain difficulties in evaluating suicide threats in DID.

Complications may arise when evaluating suicide risk in DID patients, especially when various alters emerge. It is because when one personality is suicidal, it doesn’t follow that the rest of the personalities are. In fact, it is possible that the other alters are not aware of the suicidal tendencies of another alter, which is totally true for those who are not co-conscious.

There are also other cases wherein the main person is not at all suicidal, but the other personalities are. In cases like this, the main person may not know that he has an alter who has suicidal behavioral patterns. This situation, referred to as dissociative amnesia, makes it difficult for the DID patient as well as for his therapists and his whole healthcare team. Some doctors have reported having assessed someone with DID in the emergency room, telling them that they can’t stop thinking about killing themselves and that they need help, only to come back after a few minutes talking to a totally new personality who is confused as to why he was even there!


Fact 3. Suicidal alters are common.

In DID systems, suicidal personalities exist, and they emerge as young or old. Yes, there are kid alters that are suicidal. Sometimes, alters that are not originally suicidal can have suicidal thoughts because of devastating flashbacks that can overpower them. In this instance, the alter is unable to control his temper, anxiety, and depression and feels continuously suicidal, which poses a threat to the main person. This is dangerous, as alters that have these patterns may not be able to understand that their behavior impacts the entire system.

Robyn E. Brickel, MA, LMFT suggests “Underestimating the need for suicide prevention is disastrous. Let us make time now to overcome the stigma of talking about mental health.”

Unfortunately, some alters are aware of this yet just don’t care. They want only to wreak havoc on the other personalities, with the goal of destroying the whole system. Attention to this matter is a must. It is vital that there is a team of professionals capable of handling these alters and keeping all of them alive.

Managing Suicidal Threats in Dissociative Identity Disorder

Suicidality is real in DID and managing it is very important. It is rather complicated to deal with because it also involves the alters. It is vital to note that when one part has suicidal ideations, that part should be allowed to be heard and not to be ignored. They should be able to express their feelings and their needs. As a therapist or a member of the healthcare team evaluating the DID patient, you can do this by encouraging a conversation and asking the other ‘relatively good’ parts of the system for help.


As someone who has DID, it is your responsibility to voice out your thoughts to your therapist so that he and the other members of the team can guide you with what to do. In case there are complications that you or your family cannot handle, go to the nearest emergency room. It is for you and your family’s safety. Reach out. It is what’s best for almost anyone who needs help.




New York Therapy – Getting Rid Of Dissociation

I am a single mom with two kids, and I currently live in the busy streets of New York. I am now trying to get rid of a mental illness particularly called dissociative disorder through the help of my therapist. The New York therapy involvement is a great help for my recovery, and that is why I’m going to share my struggle in this journey. I will talk about what the conditions are and what helpful things you can do about it.

Yes, there are desirable things we can do to get rid of dissociation. There are grounding techniques that perhaps works with different scenarios. It could be a breathing exercise, writing, cooking, yoga, or anything that healthily preoccupies the brain (read further here: However, I will focus on the importance of therapy.


The Dissociation

Katie Ziskind, LMFT says “Disassociating is what happens when someone experiences a severely traumatic event. Their mind goes to a happier place. It’s a survival mechanism for getting through an emotionally shocking or overwhelming event.”

Perhaps you know someone who is also struggling from this condition or maybe you yourself experienced some dissociative issues in the past. You might also have some episodes and probably thinking what the heck is the problem with you. Sometimes it boggles you because you seem not to remember anything that has happened to you. You get stressed out because there’s an extreme feeling of irritability.

For the record, there are a bunch of dissociative disorders. These include dissociative amnesia, dissociative identity, depersonalization-derealization, and so on. Commonly, these conditions are the result of psychological trauma connected to abuse. It could be sexual, physical, emotional, verbal, drug and alcohol, and such. Due to the psychological damage and stress of these harmful factors, the brain starts to protect us. It wants to keep us safe so it starts to create a coping mechanism that will wipe out the little things related to the cause of the trauma we are experiencing. That’s why there’s anxiety, depression, eating disorder, self-harm, and the list goes on that we usually endure. These mental states are the brain’s coping mechanism, and dissociation is another way to cope as well. There’s also this feeling of waking up when we weren’t even asleep. That can be freaky, but it’s our minds way to help us take a break from the things that are too overwhelming to handle. These are the psychological and emotional stuff we often consider normal.

Deborah Serani, PsyD says “Sometimes trauma causes a third option where your mind dissociates, fragments or shifts into denial. When this happens, your body goes numb, limp or stops in its place like a deer in headlights.”


What To Expect

It is normal to feel numb when suffering from any dissociative disorder. There are times that some of us may experience tingling in feet and fingers. There’s a feeling like we are always falling asleep even though we are wide awake. There’s a feeling of getting chills. And yet not remembering anything is also part of the whole experience. With all of these expectations, we don’t have to think that what’s happening to us will make us crazy. These symptoms are the usual response to dissociative disorder (more details here:

There are many things we can do to aid the condition. The most common is talking to a therapist about all of its details. It allows empowerment over experiences that cause different emotions. These include anything traumatic that has happened to us or something that we believe is causing the dissociation. With that process, we can try to find out what that triggering factor is so we can address it in detail as well. That’s because the more we talk about what is bothering us; it will become easier to shut the book and move passed to it finally. Since the primary purpose of therapy is to know what and where the dissociation started, we can be in control with our selves. Once we understand what our emotional and mental capabilities are, we can quickly recover from mental illness.


Things To Do

Apart from therapy, something that we should always keep in mind is the idea of having good people around us. We need to obtain the skills of communication so we can vent off those feelings, open and share it to others. We need contributing outlets that will stop us from getting too much overwhelmed. We need to surround ourselves with gentle, understanding, patient, and kind individuals who are more than willing to help us get rid of our condition. We need to allow them to work with us in the long term because the recovery takes a while.

On a final note, says Noel Hunter, PsyD, “Well, not too many people agree on this. It also appears as though the more professionals attempt to come to a consensus on what this term means, the more they do so in an effort to delineate it from any possible association with “psychosis”; their attempts to define dissociation are done by disassociating.”

Self-Help Strategies For Coping With Dissociative Identity Disorder

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is somewhat a misunderstood mental illness because of the uncertainty that characterizes it. Sometimes, even the family itself to which people with DID belong find it challenging to understand and respond to the effects and manifestations of DID. Considering that it is a highly dysfunctional and pervasive mental disorder that takes its hold on a person on a long-term basis, DID is something that patients often just learn to live with, rather than completely get rid off.

In that regard, it becomes critical to learn various coping mechanisms to DID which patients can do on their own. Here are a few self-help strategies that could make DID symptoms more manageable:


Did You Know? “Brain imaging research has even shown the practice to be associated with an increase in gray matter volume in 4 areas of the brain and beneficial changes in the activation of parts of the brain.” – Saundra Jain, MA, PsyD, LPC

Do Not Blame Yourself

The internal mental and emotional torture is almost always what aggravates the negative feelings associated with DID. When you find yourself struggling with this and feeling ashamed of what you are experiencing, do yourself a favor and cease the blaming. Regardless of your circumstances, you are worthy, loved, and accepted. As much as possible, try to fight back depression. Deborah Serani, PsyD says “Depression is an insidious, isolating disorder, which can sabotage relationships.”

Learn Distress Tolerance Skills

One particular crisis survival method is the TIPP which stands for Temperature change, Intense exercise, Paced breathing, and Progressive muscle relaxation. Transfer to a cooler place or dip your hands in cold water to lower the tension. Then distract yourself from the trigger and focus on exercising instead. Finally, practice proper breathing and muscle stretching to relax your whole body and normalize the energies.

Have Helpful Reminders On Hand

It could be a keychain, a bookmark, your phone’s wallpaper, a sticker on your notebook – it could be anything. Wherever you go, make sure to bring with you something that could remind you of your worth, something encouraging, and something that could lift you. Turn to these reminders and hold on to them. Repeat them in your head until it calms you down and relaxes your mind. 


Keep A Journal With You

Whenever you start feeling the dissociations, try to write them down. It could be a bit hard to pause and take yourself back, but a little practice could help. Take the time to note what possible negative emotions might have triggered the attack. Soon enough, try to read through your experiences, and you will be surprised by the various personalities you unknowingly exhibit.

Put A Soothing Music On Standby

Soothing music has been proven to be an effective technique to relax and calm a person down, especially with the onset of DID. Researches from neuroscience repeatedly report that listening to relaxing songs can reduce the anxiety brought about by DID. So try to have those soothing songs on standby in your phone or on repeat and play it whenever you feel like the symptoms of DID are taking its toll on you.

Turn Your Attention To Other Things

Coping mechanisms vary for different people. For others, distractions could help, such as watching TV, taking time to play with pets, going out for a walk, or doing their hobbies like drawing, painting, or writing. By shifting their attraction to other things, they tend to forget, for the meantime, what was supposedly triggering the DID symptom. You could also try one of these, but make sure to do the distraction that fits you the most. According to Ron Siegel, PsyD, “it can be essential to foster one specific type of self-awareness.”


Do Not Inhibit Any Personality

Although it is just natural to feel frustrated with having to experience two distinct personalities, do not try to destroy either of them. On the other hand, sympathize with both and manage both identities carefully. It will eventually become easier to learn the triggers and overcome your fears and pains.

Have Your Doctor On Call

It is crucial to ask for help when you need it. Never hesitate to reach out to your doctor and other experts in the field to help you manage the symptoms of DID. Be observant of your surroundings and freely give your therapist a call when you need to. It is imperative to be open to your therapist as this would allow them to help better you to address your needs.

While there could be a lot of self-help strategies that you could do when left alone and a trigger happens for you Dissociative Identity Disorder, it is still highly recommended that you have somebody with you all the time when you can. A strong support system from your family and close friends would help you big time, especially in cases of possible self-harm which you might find a bit difficult to control when symptoms of DID take over.

DID is not an easy mental health concern to handle, but it can be done. Many people living with DID have nevertheless become successful and content with their lives. If you ever find yourself struggling in dealing with your DID, never lose hope. There is always a way to come out victorious over mental illnesses.

Common Myths About Dissociative Identity Disorder Debunked

Often depicted in movies as split personalities, dissociative identity disorder (DID) has gained popularity in the past years but has remained highly misunderstood. It is difficult for a lot of people to wrap their heads around the concept of such fragmented personalities which come as “alters” or different versions of the self.

DID is a condition wherein patients exhibit drastic changes in their behavior, consciousness, emotions, and memory to almost depict a different person or persons altogether. The frightening part is that it happens almost instantaneously and unexpectedly, stripping the patient off of control over themselves.

According to Noel Hunter, PsyD, “Wikipedia defines dissociation (in the broad sense) as: “an act of disuniting or separating a complex object into parts.” I do not believe that many mental health professionals, particularly dissociation researchers, would entirely disagree with this definition.”

Here are five myths about dissociative identity disorder, alongside the corresponding facts of each matter:


DID Is Simply A Fantasy

There are groups of people who believe that DID is a function of the patient’s tendency to fantasize, thereby perpetuating the stigma against DID patients. The truth of the matter is that DID is a product of traumatic and violent actual experiences. As the patient enters into a defensive state of mind, the dissociations serve as coping mechanisms to escape the stress brought about by merely remembering the tragic memories.

According to Deborah Serani, PSyD, “Trauma physically and mentally impacts our mind and body the moment it happens.”

DID Is Also Schizophrenia


While both of them are mental health disorders, schizophrenia is focused on the patient’s difficulty of distinguishing correctly between reality and imagination. It is characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia instead of alternate personalities—which are characteristic of DID. DID patients do not enter into a delusional state as the chemical make-up of their brains is different for people with schizophrenia.

“Physical fitness has been shown to boost cognitive function in people with schizophrenia – a particularly attractive option because it does not create stigma in the way that engaging in in-person therapy or taking medications might – and it is essentially free of side effects,” said Jimmy Choi, PsyD.

People With DID Are Demon-Possessed

Those who encounter DID for the first time often confuse it with some form of possession by the devil because it seems like an entirely different soul or person takes over the body of the patient. In reality, dissociation involves a detachment from only certain aspects of the patient’s personality which is too painful or difficult to deal with. The “alters,” though different, complement each other into one overall being.


People With DID Do Not Know Their Alters

While dissociative amnesia and certain memory lapses are symptoms of DID, it is not true that DID patients are completely unaware of their “alters.” Most patients could even talk about their dissociations and identify the differences in their characteristics. Actually, with proper diagnosis and treatment, patients can also develop internal communication between dissociations—a gradual process that would help in the eventual recovery of a person suffering from DID. 

People With DID Live Abnormally

Movies may portray DID to look darker, more challenging to deal with, and even more violent than it actually is because people with DID do live their lives normally. Their days are filled with doing regular jobs, household chores, and family time. Various patients with DID successfully go through and finish their studies, as well as get stable careers after that. People with DID can maintain sustainable relationships with other people too.

Two in every ten people do experience dissociative identity disorder in their lifetimes, and while it may not be as commonly talked about like depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, it is nevertheless an existing reality that affects thousands of people across the globe. It’s time that we stop the stigma and create a safe space for people to overcome their mental challenges.

The Impact of Depression on Dissociation

Dissociation Defined


To dissociate is to separate – that is what it means according to the dictionary. That is, dissociating is disconnecting from something or someone. In individuals with dissociative disorders, this is their forte. Because they are too hurt to recall the trauma that they have experienced, they separate themselves from the reality and from their own identity. This is a coping mechanism that will later lead to a distorted sense of identity and the feeling of not knowing oneself, or having different selves for that matter.

According to Katie Ziskind, LMFT, Often this dissociation is an internal defense mechanism to a traumatic event or intense situation. Your mind disconnects itself in order to protect your consciousness.

Continue reading “The Impact of Depression on Dissociation” »

The Alters And Their Stories

The Alters


Meet Anne, the playful. She loves going out when I’m asleep. She has many friends (I don’t actually know most of them) and she loves drinking and going to parties with them. She’s the reason why I can’t go to work on time, because she comes home at 4 in the morning and work starts at 9. But she’s okay. She doesn’t hurt me or anyone I love.



Meet John, the suicidal one. He’s the introvert. He’s just too shy to show himself, even to me. When he’s out, he watches television or listens to music. He’s responsible for the cuts on my wrist. I want to help him but he’s too elusive. I sometimes wake up in the morning finding his knife behind my pillow, and I wonder if there was anything I could do if he decided to end his life – my life.


Meet Alex, the lesbian. She knows I hate loose shirts but she keeps buying them when she goes out to shop. Her girlfriend thinks she’s crazy because she comes and goes anytime she wants, and sometimes she disappears for two weeks! She often brings her girls in the house and I hate it when I wake up and see them in the living room, eating my cereal and drinking my coffee!


And how can I forget George, my protector. He’s my father figure, because I never had one growing up. He’s always warm and very welcoming to friends and family. He loves to cook and take care of the cleaning in the house, so I love it when he shows. Everything smells good! I think he’s the only sane alter I know (relatively speaking).


Lisa the Host


I’m Lisa and I have multiple personality disorder. It’s a type of dissociative identity disorder where a person – like me – forms alters or other personalities to cope with the bad things and memories that she experienced.


I feel that these personalities have been helping me deal with my past, but on the other hand, they also destroy it, by being not me and doing the things that I don’t usually do. Some of them, like John, don’t want to go to work so he tends to make me lazy in the morning. Anne reinforces him by staying up very late when she goes to her friend’s parties.


I have been going to therapy for the past months. My mom says I should because I do need help dealing with my alters – the voices inside me. I also find other ways to help myself. I’m thinking of joining an anonymous chat service that I read from an online therapy community.  They say that sometimes it’s good to vent to a stranger because you can be honest about anything and everything. I think that’s true (but George disagrees).


There are days when I don’t feel like talking to my therapist, simply because I don’t want to. Perhaps that’s how I am. That’s how I can be. I actually have about ten personalities, but I just introduced you to four because the others I can’t really describe. I can tell you – it is difficult keeping up with all of them, but somehow I’ve managed.


I am a living example of someone who is mentally ill but still hopeful for what is called a future. I’m taking medications and it’s been helping me manage my symptoms too. “What kind of future do I have,” I sometimes ask. I don’t really know. I’m just thankful every day that I’m alive and have a family that loves me for what I am (Anne says she loves me too).

Can Dissociative Identity Disorder Be Cured?



Yes, dissociative identity disorder can be cured, but it’s tough. Dissociative identity disorder (DID), previously known as multiple personality disorder (MPD), is a condition involving an individual having two or more distinct personalities, which may alter at an unknown time. The two or more different characters have their separate names, preferences, and temperament. Dissociative identity disorder is believed to be caused by severe and continued childhood trauma such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

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Criminal Minds: Mass Murderers and Mental Health


Reports of mass shootings are becoming much common these pasts few years. No matter how gruesome and heartbreaking these shootings are, no definite measures are in place to prevent such occurrence from repeating itself. Extreme pressure on gun control legislation and the call for mental health awareness and on the accessibility of treatments are seen by the general public as a solution to these heinous and senseless crimes.  However, experts believe that these tragedies are influenced by complex factors; many of these are still poorly understood. It is considered a myth that mental illness such schizophrenia will lead to mass shootings.

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Know The Medications For DID


One of the most challenging mental health conditions is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as multiple personality disorder. To date, there is no medication to treat DID since it is not an organic disorder or a chemical imbalance. Psychiatrists would be prescribing medications to manage mood disorders that accompany DID. This article will provide information on the four most common drugs prescribed for DID and their corresponding medical implications.

Continue reading “Know The Medications For DID” »

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