I am trying to get my head around something that is completely beyond my comprehension. Advanced warning to those who may be squeamish or prefer not to read about death, suicide, or mental illness: Stop right here and read no more of this post.
I’ve participated in a few discussions about suicide, most notably with Dia, over at The Odd and Unmentionable. I can always count on Dia to approach life and death issues with the calm wisdom of an old soul. (No, Dia is not old. It is her wisdom which seems of-another-life-old.) In her post, Suicide in Ohio, Dia points out that in some cases, suicide may actually seem to be a logical choice. But not all suicides fit in the same column. Suicide born of depression or mental illness deserves our special attention. In so very many cases, mental illness can be treated and individuals, who may at one time contemplate suicide, can rise above their despair to live long and fruitful lives. I have personal experience with a victim of mental illness who, with the help of therapy and medication, lived a wildly vibrant and creative life. Without proper treatment beautiful, creative souls like my friend often exit this world before their time. Our world is poorer for these losses.
Last night another friend learned that someone in her family had attempted to commit suicide. He chose the most graphic and disturbing means of doing this and HE FAILED.
Whatever the consequences of his life before this event, his existence and the lives of his wife, two children, and all the rest of his family and friends have been suddenly and inalterably worsened.
- If he had financial problems before, those debts have exponentially quadrupled. He is probably looking at a lengthy hospital stay, multiple reconstructive surgeries, a lifetime of medication, family counseling, and permanent disability.
- If he had pain in his life before, his new pain has negated everything he knew of pain before this.
- If he had shame in his life before, he will now face a lifetime reminder of his failure.
- If he had marital or family problems before, there is no reversing the new stresses his action will contribute to his relationships.
Dia correctly fingers the current economic crisis for increasing suicide rates. Tragedy heaped upon tragedy. Suicide is rarely one-dimensional. The reasons that a person might want to end it all are as multi-faceted as is the Hope Diamond. But one thing is clear. At a time when suicide rates are increasing, funding for mental health and suicide prevention are decreasing. Events like what I have just described will be repeated. Other families will suffer.
I don’t have answers or wisdom. All I can think of is what a terrible shame. What an awful waste of life and resources.
I hope you will all click over to Dia’s post about suicide, but just in case, I’m reposting her ever-so-important warnings, advice, and links:
IF YOU’RE CONSIDERING SUICIDE: Please, if you’ve wondered if it might stop the pain, or if those you love would be better off without you, or if you just feel so out there on the edge that you’re not sure you can take anymore, please…before you take a last step that can never be undone, make at least one phone call; to a loved one or a friend or a hotline. (I’ve listed some suicide hotline numbers below.) If it doesn’t work, you haven’t lost anything by trying. But if it does work…if, with some help, you’re able to find a way through the current darkness back to a life you love…then not only will you be safe but you’ll also have protected everything you care about most from any taste of the kind of carnage that happened in Ohio yesterday.
FOR FRIENDS OR LOVED ONES: And if you’re worried about someone else, you can also call one of the numbers listed above. Or click here for an excellent article with information on what to do if you think someone you know may be considering suicide.
With things as stressful as they are right now, and with the social safety net growing ever weaker, we need to look out for one another more than ever. Maybe we could prevent something like this from happening again.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255
Veterans Suicide Hotline – Confidential Help for Veterans: Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 http://veteranscrisisline.net/
Or go to http://suicidehotlines.com/ for a list of hotlines by state as well as a hotline for the deaf.