Abandonment of Life

(In memory of a 17-year-old boy who committed suicide because he was made to feel guilty about being gay.)

There is little spoken in the  media or in social conversation about the quiet desperation and depression that leads people to commit suicide.  That seems an odd avoidance when one considers that in the United States alone more than 33,000 persons kill themselves every year.  That is the eleventh leading cause of death in the US.  It is estimated that twelve to twenty-five attempted suicides occur per every suicide death.  Statistics show that nearly four times as many males as females die by suicide, with the age group of 15 to 19 year olds figured into the research; and more than six times as many males as females commit suicide in the age grouping 20 to 24.  That should be alarming enough to accept that suicide is a major health problem—a preventable health problem and is a subject that needs to be more openly addressed.  Most suicide attempts are not attempts for attention, but are commonly due to extreme distress. 

Several factors can figure into suicide risk, from mental disorder, substance abuse, family violence—which may include physical or sexual abuse, or peer pressure that makes one feel less than “normal.”

For anyone that seems to be coping with suicidal thought, please consider:

  • Talk with someone, a friend, family member, a therapist—even if you may not feel social.
  • Avoid any form of substance reliance.
  • Make friends with sunlight for at least 30 minutes: bright light can ease the shadows of depression.
  • Set aside at least two 30-minute periods a day for some activity that gives you pleasure and relaxation.  Avoid things at which you might fail.
  • Set priorities; they give a sense of control, even of predictability.  Keep a list of your accomplished self-administered tasks.
  • And finally, give attention to your physical health—which means attempting a well balanced diet, not skipping meals, doing some form of exercise for 30 minutes a day, and get all the sleep you need.

For anyone who has experienced the suicide of some family member, friend, or even a casual acquaintance, the emotional scar remains for a lifetime.  There is always the nagging question of why?  And it is common to keep the questioning locked up inside, where it festers with remorse, anger, guilt at not having better communicated with them—and it all gets salted with resentment at the echoing emptiness that is sometimes felt.  There is always that question, why couldn’t someone have seen the warning signs?  If we had just noted  the little warning signs we could have spoken up, we could have made a difference.  Even now, knowing all we know of suicide rates, our silence can be deadly.

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