I bristle whenever I hear talk of suicide. I can’t imagine not wanting to be alive. This is not because I’ve never been distraught. I know despair; he has dipped in and out of my life at some of the most inconvenient times. I have the emotional and physical wounds to prove it.
September is Suicide Awareness Month. So, let consider the following:
We live in our bodies; the flesh allows us to interact with the world. But what if this exchange is colored by constant turmoil, and pain. Is it easier to just…leave? Forty seven thousand people killed themselves in 2017. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 34.
Suicide is hard to think about.
Consider, the dead cyber-bullied thirteen year-old whose body slid off the stretcher, in the elevator, as she was being transported to the morgue. They forgot to use the strap, and her tiny little thirteen year-old “remains” sloshed around inside the too-big black body bag. I watched the transport team struggle to get the body back unto the stretcher. I didn’t help; it was bad enough that I had to ride the elevator with a self-inflicted act so poisonous it might as well have been the plague. I wasn’t going to touch it. The notion of suicide is emotionally uncomfortable.
When my beloved friend, a recovering addict, said to me, “I know how it feels to not want to be here anymore” I was silent. What do you say to someone who admits to a most morbid desire, and who embraces death so readily? How do you comfort such a person? Suicide is discombobulating.
Eight months ago, my sister-friend called to tell me she was called to a funeral. An eighteen year-old super-star scientist rigged equipment in his dorm room that poisoned him while he slept. He was his mother’s pride and joy. “I’m so sorry to hear that” was all I could mutter.” Suicide kills.
The American Association for Suicide Prevention has a great website with videos, classes, and others tools that teach you about the mental health states that lead to suicide; prepare you to talk about suicide; and, educate you about the grief process.
You can be the voice that changes a student’s perspective; that modulates a loved-one’s expectations; or that helps someone comply with prescribed medication.
A thought of suicide is the beginning; it doesn’t have to be the end.