The word suicide is rarely used by those of us who have been affected by it. We choose “taking one’s own life,” “choosing to end their life,” or any other number of creative cover-ups. The word itself is painful, and suicide is a topic we try to hide, repress and deny. There is a stigma of failure associated with suicide that can cause guilt and shame, when there should be compassion and understanding.
We always want to believe there was another explanation, and in some cases there is. Maybe it was actually a murder. Or an accident. It is so hard to believe that someone you love would choose to leave the rest of us behind. Then once you believe it, there comes the struggle for acceptance of that person’s choice; respecting their dilemma and their personal decision… Understanding that their mental health prevented them from seeing another option.
If only we had the chance to go back in time and do something to stop it! Suicide can be preventable, but sometimes all the support in the world can’t change the force of a person’s depression. Those of us left behind struggle with grief and we learn, over time, to cope with the loss of our loved one.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 41,149 people in the U.S. who committed suicide in 2013. For each of those 41,149 people, it is estimated that 6 people are left behind as survivors. That makes a total of 246,894 people for one year alone who are battling the grief caused by a loved one’s suicide.
Are you one of us? Or have you felt suicidal? I urge you to take advantage of the many resources available for help. You can find a directory of Survivors of Suicide Support Groups online at www.suicidology.org. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is (800) 273-8255. You can take a number of self assessments on the Brookhaven Retreat website under the “Making a Change” tab. Additional resources can be found through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at www.afsp.org and Survivors of Suicide at www.survivorsofsuicide.com.