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People think I’m nuts. They have a point, because I am certified mentally ill, but they think I’m crazy because I choose to write about suicide. I was at a party the other evening and one of the attendees was talking about her life as if it were over. I told her about my blog and that was the end of it, but later I began to stress over talking to her about it. What if she was horrified that I called her out on her suicidality (privately, of course)? I don’t know how she feels. I’m just guessing that she was probably offended or shocked. This is conjecture based on the reactions I get from others who sometimes back away with a sour look on their face when I mention that I write about suicide.
I feel strongly about suicide. I’ve lost two people to the disorder and I almost lost myself. My best friend almost completed a plan two years ago. Any book on suicide will tell you that it is the number 3 reason why young people die. Millions worldwide succumb to it every year. Why should anybody not feel strongly about suicide? I have five major reasons I write. They are listed below.
When Derek died, I went through the stages of grief and then I went through them again. And again. I had conquered fear, I was through bargaining, had brought the denial to light, and was teetering on acceptance. Anger was the only thing that fully remained; it came and went during all my breathing hours. I would never reach a healthy acceptance of Derek’s death unless I reduced my anger by about 95 per cent (it never fully goes away). It was the padding in my heart that made his death seem more bearable.
Most people in our community were very gracious to me at the time, but a few were a little weird. They would tell me how selfish Derek was. I didn’t want to believe them. I knew that he had been suffering from clinical depression, but a part of me let the selfishness theory in. After all, I knew that Derek loved me – why would he hurt me like that?
Unfortunately for me, the anger would last for two decades. It was easier to be mad at him than cry. It was easier to hate him than to remember the thrill of first love and cherish those memories. It was easier not to write about him because… (grabs Kleenex). It’s been 25 years and I’m bawling like a baby right now. Oh my God, my desk is wet! Oh, anyway. I guess the grief cycle comes again.
My favorite spiritual teacher, Emmet Fox, describes forgiveness well. He says that a resentment against another is like a chain, locking you to that person. There will never be freedom in your life if you are chained to someone like that – living or dead. I love Derek, but I don’t want to be chained to someone on the other side. I want to be present for the living. I started practicing forgiveness and amazing things happened. When I thought of Derek, I smiled more, I cried less, and I was a LOT less angry. I believe practicing forgiveness was the nicest thing I could do for someone who I never saw acting selfish once while he was living.
Because of the incredible stigma that attaches itself to suicide, it is unfashionable to remember those lost. Or, we remember them like I did above: with anger and some bundle of sometimes unrecognizable emotions. Survivors are often told that the suicide is selfish, leaving them to avoid counseling or talking about it altogether. When the people in my life died to suicide, I stopped talking about it too. Really, no one seemed to want to hear about my pain and loss.
But the suicides are our loved ones. For however long God chose to keep them here, we are best suited to be grateful for that time. Remembering the good times, without anger, will keep you healthier and your bond with the deceased (yes, there is one) will grow and blossom.
Because of the Stigma
So, from what I’ve gathered in several articles and books, suicide stigma is not a recent invention. Of course I have to mention the middle ages, where they would drag a beheaded suicide behind a wagon or whatever and then they would pierce his/her heart. It all came from good common concern that the dead person had evil sprits that had made him/her take their life. Then, it got a little better and the Enlightenment Age mellowed out the headless dragging, but there was still the Catholic Church and it’s own stigma.
It wasn’t until late last century that we made it a little less illegal to kill yourself. I still don’t think it’s legal, but it’s not legally acted upon as much anymore. When most people alive today grew up with suicidality being a thing to be acted upon legally, it’s no wonder no one wants to talk about it.
Yeah, people think I’m crazy to write about suicide, but I’m not. I’m brave. I’m brave because I will talk to anyone about suicide. I’m sick and tired of not being able to, and if you take my lead, there will be two of us talking about suicide. Feel me?
So I Don’t Do it Myself
I was very suicidal two years ago. The only reason I couldn’t go through it was my living loved ones. It was getting to the point where I wasn’t so concerned about them either. Eventually, I got to the doctor and my friend gave me the book, Sermon on the Mount. Between the medications, counseling, and reading, I was able to come out of it eventually, but I remember the feeling of total devastation. I have suicidal tendencies. That’s a fact I’ll live with for the rest of my life. I just want a longer life now.
So Someone Else Doesn’t Do it
I write so you don’t do it. Or your mom doesn’t do it. Or your friend. I write to keep you alive. I write to keep us all alive.
In conclusion, I think dialogue will ruin this thing. It will take suicide’s neck and shake it. I maintain that talking about, writing about, having plays about, throwing fundraisers about, loving each other about suicide, will kick it in it’s ever-loving ass.