Breisch Blog

The Tapestry We Mistakenly Believe is Reality

One of the most profound lessons I have extracted from nearly 20 years answering calls (11,000 or more) on the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is that each of us constructs an image—a tapestry—we truly believe represents reality, but turns out to be ambiguous, misleading, and very often wrong. Despite its extraordinary abilities, our brains are easily …

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Every. Single. Day.

I recently discovered that, 117 years ago, the United States Supreme Court enforced a Cambridge Massachusetts health board’s smallpox vaccination order. The plaintiff—an anti-vaxxer—claimed their ‘individual liberty.’ That liberty, it was said, included, not only the right to afflict themselves, but also the right to cause others to be afflicted. When I learned of this …

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Contagious, Courageous Conversations

“When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” Billy Graham I am scheduled to present my book, Humanity’s Journey Home, to a group of lifelong learners. But I’m frightened. I’m glad I wrote the book…I really am. However, there are days I wish I hadn’t. It’s not a book …

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Guilt: The Hidden Mental Illness

“I left work early,” he explained after we connected on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. “I’m in my car on the way to the emergency room and just needed someone to talk to.” “I’m glad you called. What’s making life so difficult?” I asked. “I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and anxiety,” he told me. …

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“Turning Periods into Question Marks”

Turning periods into question marks can be life-saving. Several months ago, I got a call from a dear friend, Tess, as she drove from her home outside of Chicago to a friend’s home in Michigan. She was frightened because this friend was seriously considering suicide and Tess felt unprepared to help. Since she knew of …

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Who Will Play Your Music?

Renowned improvisational pianist, Michael Jones, changed my life. For several years I listened to his extraordinary music as he played at numerous conferences. It took time and courage for me to ask if I might record and publish an interview with him. In early 1998, I journeyed to his home north of Toronto and we …

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A Perfect Ending

“Perfect is the enemy of good.” Voltaire Sometimes perfect finds us when we least expect it. Late last year, I was asked to keynote at a meeting of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) for school districts across the state of Illinois. I could never have conceived how this invitation would help save a life and change …

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An Unlikely Source of Wisdom

“It’s So Counterintuitive!” she said. “Yes, it is.” I affirmed. The young woman calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline suffered from sporadic, chronic, gastrointestinal pain. She thought she might have eaten something the prior weekend that aggravated the condition. As a result, she was in great pain. I asked if she would be willing to …

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A Gift Delivered with Courage

Note: This piece will be published in the September/October issue of Neighbors of Batavia Magazine. I recently learned a valuable, touching lesson from a man with aphasia. It’s a condition that makes communication difficult and afflicts two million people in the United States. I have published eighty-eight essays for this page in Neighbors of Batavia …

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The Slipperiest of Slopes

While unanswered questions are challenging, I wonder if an unquestioned answer could doom the species. Be forewarned, the slope I am about to ascend is so unbelievably slippery, I am frightened to even begin. For the species Homo sapiens, the answer to most any threat is annihilation. The greater the threat, the more willing we …

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Good Trouble

“I’m a burden to everybody,” she began when I answered the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. “Everyone would be better off if I wasn’t here.” “Are you considering suicide?” I asked. She paused, and quietly admitted she was. I asked her first name and age, for familiarity and a bit of context. “I’m Sue (not her …

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