Monday, September 10, 2012

World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, 2012

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Almost every site I have seen have places to call if you are feeling suicidal, and lots of history and statistics of suicide. Some bloggers are adamant that suicide can be prevented. Some aren't. A few sites, eager to show that the blogger has a very good education, spew out facts from Durkheim, and go into 21st century stats.

Here's the honest truth. Most suicides can be prevented. Most suicidal behavior, if taken over that hump when a person is suicidal, leads to the person being glad the next day they are still alive. I've met several people in real life who are grateful their attempt(s) failed. I've met people who as they were swallowing pills ended up calling 911 because they changed their mind.

Then I've met people, including myself, who were upset they failed. They can't figure out what went wrong, every detail was planned to the Nth degree, and something caused it to go wrong.

How do you prevent a suicide? The best method is to listen to the person and do not judge. President Abraham Lincoln went through such a bad, suicidal patch in his life, his friends didn't leave him alone. It obviously worked, and he went on to be one of the best American Presidents.

Four years ago I wrote about a friend of mine, Kevin Greim, who suicided on Sept 14, 2008 in a most gruesome manner that still gives me nightmares. Out of all the pieces I have ever written in my life, I am the most proud of this one. Kevin was more than a statistic of two suicides that died in Mercer County NJ that weekend. He was a real live person, with the most beautiful aura I've ever seen. A person who totally gave of himself, was always there if you needed to talk and meant so much to so many people at my old support group. Yet since his suicide, I've learned he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, dealing with several problems, that if only he had discussed with his friends, he might not have died. If only he opened up.....

I think about Kevin every day. Kevin loved cars and when I see something cool on the road, I want to pick up my phone, snap a picture of it and send it to him. Only I can't. His friends, still are haunted by his death. One of them never got over it and his life took a turn for the worse.

Then there's the guilt. We all have it. Everyone who was at his memorial service and funeral has it .If only he had talked to me. I remember several of us looking at the urn his ashes were in, crying so hard we had to leave the funeral parlor. Standing outside in the cool Indian Summer with snot rockets coming out of our noses from crying to hard ,and all thinking or saying "Why didn't he call me"?

Some have moved on, as you do with life. Some have on the outside but, like me, are haunted in dreams of what must have been the last milliseconds of his life.

Here's what I want someone who finds this piece to take away.

I get you are hurting.

I understand you feel it won't go away. 

I understand your life has gone to s**t because of drinking, drugging, job loss, or love. 

I understand how you feel helpless and feel that if you were dead you wouldn't be in pain.


Have you really thought about the people you would leave behind? Yes, in your convoluted thinking, you feel they would be better but they won't. They will feel like they had the hearts ripped out and will miss you every day of their lives. They will hate you sometimes for leaving them, and other times they will miss you so much it will feel like Atlas holding up the weight of all the world. Only instead of holding the earth, they are holding up a broken heart that will never heal. If your friends and family are lucky, they won't go through divorces, or drug use or other ways to make themselves feel better. Ways that don't work and only make things worse in the long run.

One of my favorite movies of all time is "It's A Wonderful Life". At my lowest, most suicidal, I've wondered where my Clarence angel is. One night in my early twenties I got down on my knees and prayed for the entire night until that feeling passed.

All I can tell you is this. Yes there are 7 billion people on the earth right now. There is a reason that you were created. Call it because of G-d, a Higher Power, or just two people having too much to drink on a Saturday night. There is a reason, a mission you have with your life. You don't know it. You probably won't until you are on your death bed.

As bad as things are right now, remember Suicide is not painless. You can take or leave it if you please. It's my hope for all who read this, to please leave it. The only time suicide is painless is in a theme song from one of the best television series ever.

My piece on Kevin is here. 


On The Way said...

Thank you, for your honesty, for sharing your pain at losing a friend and for reminding me that while I am here for everyone else, I still need people to be here for me.

As always, I am glad to be able to read your wise words and to be challenged in my thinking,
take care,

Jacqueline Hough said...


I found your blog by chance. Your post was beautiful and made me think. Thanks so much for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

I'm really, really sorry for your loss. Those words are hollow, I know, but I wanted you to know that I am thinking of you.

As far as suicide prevention, my thoughts are maybe a bit different... maybe if we work to end conditions that contribute to making people suicidal (sexism, racism, poverty...) suicide rates will decrease? Maybe I am just being too idealistic, and maybe this is too complicated, but...


Billy Ocean said...

It is important to take time to acknowledge and build awareness around suicide. It isn't easy to lose a friend from suicide, I have lost a couple. As a recovering alcoholic, I have a mind that works against me. Suicide was on my mind for a long time. Once I got sober I found a new solution and I have been sober for three years. I got help from a place called New Life House. If you or a loved one is suffering check out their website and they may be able to help. New Life House- Structured Sober Living

Psychotherapie M√ľnchen said...

I am also very sorry for your loss. We have some good experiences with CBASP for the treatment of chronic depression ... does anyone have also experience with this new psychotherapeutic approach?

All the best from Munich,

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