Saturday, November 26, 2005

Publish Day - Ink Blog - Suicide isn't painless

My paper has been running an excellent series on suicide all week. Entitled Ending it all, it has lifted the veil, so to speak, on a problem that at once touches us all, yet is deliberately not discussed by the very same people whose lives it darkens.

I wrote this because I wanted to ensure the discussion didn't stop here. I know so many of us have been brushed by it, yet haven't had the courage to discuss it in the open.

Your turn: Although it may be difficult for some, I hope you'll consider sharing a thought of two on suicide, depression, and the toll it takes on individuals and society.

Here's my perspective, published in today's paper:
Cloak of silence lifted from suicide
Published Saturday, November 26, 2005
The London Free Press

A lifetime ago, I was a 13-year-old learning to sail Laser-class boats at summer camp. My instructor, Robert, painstakingly guided me from neophyte to a confident captain who could easily command the boat in any situation.

He was barely out of his teens, but his maturity and wisdom made him seem so much older. He was a patient mentor who always seemed to have his hand firmly on the tiller on his way to a bright future.

A few years later, he killed himself.

This week’s London Free Press series on suicide has taught us how this disease of society thrives in dark shadows. We never talk about it for fear of offending. It has touched so many of us, but we keep it buried deeply.

But if the teenagers of tomorrow are going to have young mentors to guide them, someone’s got to shine the light on this silent menace, to flush it from the recesses of shame and into forums where we feel safe to talk about it.

Look inward, and don’t be afraid to start that conversation.

-30-
Me again: My editor, Larry Cornies, today published a searing column, Suicide series touches many lives. Editor-in-chief Paul Berton ran a great journalist's perspective column - entitled Time to talk about suicide - in today's paper as well. As difficult as it is to talk about suicide, the all-stops coverage by the paper is encouraging, to say the least. I hope the dialog continues.

Here are the links to the articles in the Ending it all series that inspired this thread. Randy Richmond is the reporter who researched and wrote these articles. It's great, necessary reading.

30 comments:

kenju said...

Carmi, I have never known anyone who committed suicide, but I have known a few who attempted and failed. I know it comes from a deep depression, but I can't help but think that it is a coward's way out. I hope that doesn't upset anyone; maybe I'm wrong. If so, emlighten me.

Michele sent me today.

Aginoth said...

I have lost 3 friends to suicide, two of them when we were in our teens, one in their early 20's.

Outwardly all appeared normal, only after their deaths did learn of their history of depression (in one case drugs related). It was only when I in my early 30's suffered from depression that I felt i came close to understanding why they did it (although I never considered the option myself), my depression is under control now I am glad to say and thankfully I have a large support network to help me :o)

Bec of the Ladies Lounge said...

Hi Carmi, Michele sent me today. I remember as a young cadet journalist being told that we didn't report suicides because the police feared copycat attempts. There is some truth in this, particularly from the 'non-serious' attempters. But I think we've all moved on from that position now and that work such as your newspaper has done is very important in bringing this issue to a useful level of discussion, well done.

Michael Manning said...

Carmi: I completed my 2 year Fieldwork Practicum as a Psychology major working as a trained Suicide and Crisis Intervention Hotline. The Classic book is "Suicide and the Soul". In a majority of the instances te afflicted peereson is giving signals that most people aare just not able to pick up on. I'm glad you had the courage to post this!

craziequeen said...

I have had two close friends commit suicide, one was covered in my blog 'Bruise Brothers'.

Being borderline suicidal myself, I can assure anyone it is not the coward's way out. It is a culmination of sheer desperation and strength of will to step off that ledge of life voluntarily.

Sorry - I have strong opinions on suicide....

cq
Michele sent me....

Bec of the Ladies Lounge said...

HI Carmi, back from Michele's again and it gives me a chance to expand on what I said earlier - there are of course no "non=serious" suicide attempts in that anyone attempting suicide should be given serious care, concern and attention. CQ is right, there is nothing cowardly about planning to take your own life.
well done again to your paper on this series (I;ve read even more now)

Joan said...

I am not aware of anyone in my life who actually committed suicide, but I do know many who considered it, or at least threatened, including myself. I see suicide as the ultimate cry for help, and feeling that no one is listening or paying attention. I agree we need to spend more time looking at it and trying to understand those who are hurting, hopefully before they become suicidal. Kudos to you for publicly addressing the topic.

PS - thanks for stopping by my blog today. :)

Rachel - Wicked Ink said...

Thanks for this - I can't really comment right now, but I will - probably as a post (I can see it being long).

Thanks so much for your advice, and you are absolutely right - see my reply to your comments.

craziequeen said...

hi Carmi again, MSM :-)

post something cheerful!! :-)

cq

dena said...

I've known several people that chose to take their own lives. What's odd is there's never a "type" that stands out. Each of these people was different. Women, men, parents, children, siblings, people with dependency problems, people that laughed, people that never laughed. Scary, because you just never know. It could be anyone.

michele sent me today

Kat said...

It's great that this issue is being given due attention. I had a friend who lost her younger brother to suicide when we were in college, and had her brother reached out for help his death could have been prevented.

Marcia said...

I wish your column had been longer... it almost seems like an unfinished thought. I'd love to hear more of what you think...

Aginoth said...

Here Here cq...C'mon Carmi, balance off this with perhaps your Google Picture Meme entry :o)

margalit said...

My cousin Lonnie killed himself by jumping off a building on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. It shattered the lives of his family forever. They never recovered from the question Why?

They say it was drug related, but I wonder how depressed he must have been to end his life. Depression runs rampant in my family, and only in my generation is it even acknowledged.

Via Michele

Charles (Canadian in Hong Kong) said...

Hi Carmi, thanks for dropping by my blog today. I have had several friends commit suicide at a wide range of ages. Years ago in high school (Toronto) a distant friend accidentally inhaled Spam and was instantly asphyxiated. The media was all over it, clearing describing the dangers of the product. Three weeks later another student in our school actually used the product to commit suicide - he was about 15 years old. (Same age as me at the time.) Since then I have had a number of friends and acquaintances take their lives. So often, too, like your instructor at camp, they had so much potential but cannot see that for themselves.

Carmen said...

Wow. This is a deep topic, and requires some thought.

Michele sent me, although I'd be here anyway.....

Plumkrazzee said...

3 years ago this week, a very good family of ours was killed in a murder/suicide. Along with her 2 small children. (she was 24, the kids were 5 and 7) Her husband killed them, then tried to start the house on fire, when that didn't work, he shot himself. Imagine that funeral 2 days before Thanksgiving....another one of those "life moments" that will be engrained in my heart forever. I have nothing more to say about it really, as I refuse to give him any glory by discussing the mayhem he left for us all. Suffice it to say, there is simply no way to understand, or accept it. All you can do is move on.

the frog princess said...

When I was young my best friend's brother killed himself by jumping off an overpass. My mother didn't tell me until a few years ago and somehow I just thought he went away or something. I don't know how I wasn't aware, but I was very upset about it when I found out. I've known many that have tried, and I'm always grateful they didn't make it -- people in that much pain don't realize how much they hurt everyone else too.

Marie said...

I think that the theme song from the movie 'Mash' which states within it's lyrics that 'suicide is painless' is mistaken...
Michele sent me.

Plumkrazzee said...

MSM once again..=)

Blond Girl said...

Hey Carmi. Michele sent me.

My aunt comitted suicide when I was 5 years old. My parents were up front from the beginning, so it's never seems mysterious to me. What it has seemed is eternally deadly. I'm not a Catholic anymore, but I was raised as a Catholic as a child. We were taught that if you killed yourself, you would go to Hell no matter what. I have to be honest; even though I became a Baptist when I was 14 and an Interdenominational Christian when I was 18 (and my theology around death changed), the fear of Hell kept me from committing suicide at least 2 times from age 22-24 when I was in a bad bad place in life.

I'm glad I had that fear; it kept me here and now I have a life I wouldn't trade.

Blond Girl said...

Oh, and one more thing. Like Kenju, I may upset some with this statement, but I think some suicides are amazingly selfish. I used to work at the IDS center in Minneapolis. It is 52 (I think) stories high. 2 times now, men have thrown office chairs through the windows and then jumped out of the office and into the Crystal Court. Others have had to live with seeing that sight. My sister-in-law's father committed suicide when he turned on his car and sat in the garage drinking. He put a note on the garage door that said "Don't come in here. Call the police." Right. His wife went in and found him. See, it just seems so selfish to put others through that.

All three of these examples were men - I've heard that suicide is more prevelent among men, but I don't know why.

Karen said...

Carmi, what a sad and difficult issue to address. I applaud your efforts. I'd imagine it will touch more lives than you can imagine.

Michele sent me.

scrappintwinmom said...

Hi Carmi - I don't have anyone in my life who committed suicide, but I commend you for adressing this topic. Here via Michele today!

Melina said...

Hi Carmi,
Michele sent me. It's very interesting playing Michele's game b/c you never know who you are going to "meet".

In keeping with the subject of your post, I have not known anyone who attempted or completed a suicide. I have, however, definitely known and been pretty danged depressed to the point of thinking how one would actually commit suicide...the "planning' of it all from a more curious point of view than a "i'm seriously considering this" point of view.

As a mother of three, the guilt of leaving behind these three lovelies always brings me back to reality. I cannot imagine them having to tell other people their mom committed suicide.

There's just such a negative connotation associated with someone taking their own life. I think people who contemplate, attempt and well, those who succeed, are really battling with out-of-control thoughts inside their head. I do not think it's a "coward's" way out. I think some individuals just feel completely trapped inside of themselves to the point of just shutting everything "off" once and for all.

That's my take.

Thanks for a great post and best wishes in your journalism career.

srp said...

Michele sent me this time.
My daughter was a freshman in high school when a young man in the sophomore class killed himself. It was a small school, only 25 in each class and everyone was devastated. He lived in a childrens home but with a cottage setting, loving dorm parents, kids that looked up to him, many caring friends and none of the signs expected. He did well in school, had plans for the future and was not withdrawn. There was no note and no reason. My only thought was that this happened on April 1st, April Fool's day and he was a prankster. Perhaps he meant to stage an April Fool prank by pretending to be hanged in the bathroom and it went tragically wrong.

I thought Nyssa and Katie (her best friend and this young man's girlfriend) would never bounce back, their hearts were broken. They have, but Nyssa doesn't forget. Every year since 2001 she visits his grave with flowers and cries as the first of April approaches.

Dean said...

I find it odd that, in all the statistics presented, it isn't noted that suicide in any age group is at least 70% male, and in some it's more than 80%. Even in the statistics they quoted, that it is the leading cause of death among women 30-34: in those years, women are only about 20% of suicides.

I don't know what it is around this topic.

I think some suicides are amazingly selfish. I used to work at the IDS center in Minneapolis. It is 52 (I think) stories high. 2 times now, men have thrown office chairs through the windows and then jumped out of the office and into the Crystal Court. Others have had to live with seeing that sight.

Selfish? WTF? They're DEAD. They were desperate enough to end their own lives, and somehow it's the inconvenience to those left behind that matters? I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

I give you credit for posting this. When in high school a former boyfriend commited suicide. As a young adult a coworker (female) took an overdose of pills, a friend of the famlies 21 yr son sat in the car inthe garage....I have four children (grown)they have known someone that has taken their own life... these were males in their teens. A few years ago the mother of one of my daughters friends hung herself. I personally do not think they are cowards, I think they are suffering. I wonder if more men commit suicide because typically men don't talk as much as women adn they usually don't seek help as readily as a woman. Our society says men don't cry and must be strong. Mental illness is an illness our society still is not very tolerant of mental illness. Thanks for posting this article and allowing a place to give feedback.... Hopefully this article will enlighten some people and maybe lead some others to get help.

Bhakti said...

My father's parents both committed suicide. He never talks about it...he has it hidden inside somewhere. I try to talk to him about it, but it must have been so painful for him that he just doesn't recall the details. Not that I blame him. I feel a bit uneasy talking about it here because he never talks about it himself. His parents both committed suicide inside a year of each other. My father was around 27 years old. I was born shortly thereafter.

The point I would like to make is that it's not only teenagers that committ suicide.

I think, at least in my high school 20 years ago, suicide was talked about quite frequently by the staff--meaning, it wasn't hush hush. There were people to go to if you felt depressed.

Amy said...

I was one of the people who witnessed the suicide of Darnell Walker in 2001 at the IDS center. Even with all of the time that has passed, every time I hear about suicide, every time I see a glass ceiling, every time I am in downtown Minneapolis or hear someone mention the IDS center it all comes back. I can remember the explosion as he crashed through the ceiling...I remember the feeling of fear...I remember the sight of a man in bits and pieces falling through the ceiling and landing feet away on the ground. It is not something I would wish on anyone and I am very glad that my children were not old enough to know what was going on or even remember it. And I am here writing this now because I was reminded of the experience and once again googled IDS suicide to see if there were any other mentions of it. I would say it has affected me.