Even though it appears that more people commit suicide at Christmas time, studies from Mayo Clinic show that it isnâ€™t true. Maybe we just talk about more meaningful things at the holidays, and so it seems like there are more incidents.
I was having dinner with some family members this week when I was told that a young man had recently jumped from a local parking garage and died. He wasnâ€™t drunk, was not using drugs and left a long note for his mother at the scene. His mother, who reminds me of Michelangeloâ€™s â€œThe Pieta,â€ will now carry this burden her entire life.
In the news this week we learned that Bernie Madoffâ€™s son hanged himself in his home while his wife was out of town and his two-year-old son lay asleep in his bed.
My hairdresser reminded me that itâ€™s been three years this month since her husband committed suicide. Another friend I know lost her husband to suicide, and another, her father.
Just the word suicide is so taboo that itâ€™s often painfully difficult for people to talk about it, and, for this reason, we must.
Suicide runs so against the natural drive to live, that there must be many converging factors at play for a person to actually decide to leave this earth of their own accord. Sometimes it is meticulously planned and other times it appears to be an act of impulsive desperation.
I donâ€™t judge anyone who has left this earth by way of suicide, but I know that their suffering is brief compared to the suffering of the family they leave behind. It could be seen as a passive aggressive act of selfishness to just exit, and leave others to clean up the mess, but I believe itâ€™s much more complicated and heart breaking.
A formal study performed by T. Foster in Northern Ireland in 2003 analyzed 42 suicide notes and their themes. The aim was to determine if these themes could help inform the way health professionals plan suicide intervention.
One of the conclusions of the study suggests that because of a common theme of â€œapology/shame,â€ there could be some ways of improving suicide prevention with cognitive therapy emphasizing problem-solving skills.
There have been a good number of famous artists and musicians whose deaths by suicide have been almost romanticized in various biographies. Ernest Hemingway and his shotgun, Woolf with rocks in her pockets wading into the water, Sylvia Plath with her head in the oven. These legendary deaths are tragic, not romantic, and their families, like all the others, had to carry on with unspeakable grief after they were gone.
Good people commit suicide, good families lose loved ones to this horrible event, and still it is the secret that families do not discuss out in the light of day because it makes the rest of us so uncomfortable. And what an added burden; that you can talk about losing a loved one to cancer and people will rally around you with hugs and consolation, but mention suicide and people drift away to the buffet table.
Suicide – such bad ju ju. The only way to get rid of the spell is to bring this bogey man of darkness out into the open and show it to the entire village.
We must discuss it, dissect it and take the power away from it. We must talk to our children about it at the appropriate age and teach them tools that they can learn and call on in case a time ever came when they would need them. We teach our children about strangers, why not this?
Iâ€™m wondering what makes people in Haiti, who are living in wet tents, without adequate food or water, in the depths of despair push on and survive, when others with much less adversity to navigate lose their way?
In Haiti they still sing and dance, they celebrate spiritual holy days and have a cultural connectedness to help them sustain each other through adversity. They identify themselves as survivors, as well they are.
Maybe in our quest to be so independent in this country, we have sacrificed some sense of â€œweâ€™re all in this togetherâ€ to prove that we can all make it on our own. The fact is, few of us can. We need family, friends, and neighbors and itâ€™s not a weakness to admit that.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was quoted as saying â€œWhen you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang onâ€. Perhaps we need to spend more time learning to tie knots. And reach out. And hold on. And call a therapist. Tell a friend. Call a family member.
A Jewish proverb states, â€œI ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.â€ Maybe we can stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends or family members who are feeling hopeless. We may not be able to remove the burden, but side by side we can offer the support and connectedness they might need in order to have the strength to choose life for another day.
If you or someone you know is at risk for suicide please call: 1-800-273-8255. This is a 24-hour hotline that could make the difference between life and death.