Thursday, September 29, 2005

Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention.

Earlier this year I was discussing suicide with someone. I can't remember who I was talking to or how the subject came up. Possibly because of the suicides of the writers Hunter S. Thompson or Spaulding Gray.

"I've known three people who've killed themselves. Is that a lot?" The other person seemed to think so.

The mother of a friend, the older brother of another friend, a college classmate.

Suicide Prevention.

Those were the ones I knew. There was also other boy at college, and the father of another friend, but I'd never met either of them.

I divorced my first husband many years ago, and haven't kept up with him or his family. For a while I'd hear from one of his friends now and then, but over the years we all lost touch. And since they're all in Europe it's not like I ever run into any of them.

But recently my mother ran into Mrs. A, who knew my ex's family, and learned that my ex-mother-in-law had died, of suicide. Mom's not one for prying, so I don't know the when, where, or why.

I have many fond memories of the lady, who was probably the nicest one in that family. The last time I saw her, she cried that I was leaving.

So now it's four.

Suicide Prevention.

Suicide Prevention.

Suicide Prevention.


Rexroth's Daughter said...

Four suicides sounds like a lot to me. I didn't know any one who had committed suicide until this year when our next door neighbor killed himself. We didn't really know him except to wave at each other when passing on the road.
There are so many alternatives to suicide, it is tragic when someone chooses that path.

Jenn said...

Some days are harder than others.

weldergirl said...

I had a good friend in high school that killed himself and then 12 years ago my oldest brother killed himself. We were sharing an apartment at the time. Funny you should bring this up now, he died on Sept.25. More people than you would think have friends and family who have done it but no one much talks about it. After my brother died alot of people I knew avoided talking to me but I think its just that it makes people so uncomfortable.

Rurality said...

Weldergirl, I'm so sorry to hear that. I guess people act that way because they don't know what to say. I wouldn't know either, except just to say that I was sorry, and that I was sad.

swamp4me said...

Even one is a lot.

Clare said...

How I wish it was only four that I knew. A good friend, who works in the field of mental health shared with me some insight. I had commented that I couldn't understand why anyone would want to do that, to themselves and to the people who love them. She said that some people suffer from depressions so profound that it takes an extreme act of personal courage NOT to take their life each and every day. Inuit have a suicide rate 9 times the national average, natives also a high rate. I spent most of my career working in those communities. I've lost friends, colleaques, a troopmate, lots of people that I knew through work (clients) and of course attended many of those calls. Part of the reason that it hurts us worth than many other deaths is that we feel that we could have prevented it somehow, if only we had said the right thing, or noticed some signs or or or

My sympathies.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, the only suicides I've been affected by personally have been young people: my nephew, our god-daughter, two neighborhood teenagers, and a player on the softball team my husband coached. When our oldest children were in Junior High school it seemed there was a suicide epidemic- three of their classmates committed suicide within a short time of each other. Only two of these young people showed any outward sign of being depressed- it still baffles me....


Rurality said...

Clare, I didn't know that. I have read that lack of sunlight affects depression - I wonder if that is a factor in the high Inuit rate?

Grace I was sorry to hear about your young folks too. There was just a report on NPR the other day saying that suicide rates are highest among senior citizens, which astounded me. I supposed you tend to hear more about the young ones though.

I actually remembered another one that I knew. A guy I went to high school with - I didn't have any classes with him and mainly just knew him by name.

weldergirl said...

I'm sorry for your losses too. I mention mine because it was of some comfort to me when other people would tell me that they had experienced the same. Of course it was almost always done in whispered tones in back rooms away from other people. I think the stigma attached to it is what hurts alot. The memory of the person who commits suicide is forever changed. No matter what good they did in life, they will rarely be spoken of publicly anymore. By not saying anything it makes the person seem that their loved one did not matter. People avoid saying anything because they actually want to comfort another more than what they think just saying "I'm sorry" will do. (It does help)Or they are afraid it will make you think of the person and therefore hurt you. (I think about my brother always so people should not worry about that). Well, its a very sad, complicated issue. I found a good book years ago by Carla Fine "No Time to Say Good-bye". It helped me alot.

Rurality said...

Weldergirl, I hadn't thought of it that way before - that the memory of the person is changed. But you're right.

I think possibly another reason that people don't talk about it is this... there is a normal inclination to want to know more when someone dies... how did they die, etc. If it was an accident, did they die right away or were they suffering. If it was of illness, what kind of illness, etc. Part of it may be morbid curiosity, but I think there is more to it than that. Possibly people want to relate it to something that they know or that they've experienced before. But with a suicide I think those questions are more suppressed.

Watchmania said...

I've known four people who committed suicide. One was a close friend of my brother's. He overcame childhood leukaemia only to hang himself a few years later, age 24. Another was our neighbour, a pig farmer who never got over his wife's death from cancer. There was also the son of my mother's best friend, who hung himself at age 14. No one knows if it was deliberate or some weird game that went wrong. The most recent was a friend who suffered from a very extreme form of bipolar disorder that constantly dragged him down and ruined his hopes and dreams. Such a terrible illness. Again, he was 24 years old.

Strange that they were all male - I wonder what the gender stats are for suicide. In two of those tragedies, I can understand how the men concerned ended up in there. The other two will always be a mystery to me.

Rurality said...

Sara the stats I read said that more females attempt, but more males are successful.

There have been several publicized "accidental hangings" in Alabama lately. It's a "choking game" that the kids do to get a high feeling, but many of them are ending up dead. There is more info here.

Anonymous said...

The best prevention others can offer is being there and caring. But also realize that it may not be enough and don't blame yourself because ultimately the suicider is responsible for themself.

The best prevention the suicider can do is to find a reason to life, or to not die. Either works, and develope a mentality of procrastination - put off dieing for another day. This works for me.

Rurality said...

Thanks for that insight, Anonymous.