Saturday, September 19, 2009

To You, Contemplating Suicide

Yesterday someone unknown to me left a comment on this blog stating that she has "sort of, not really" thought about suicide.

That comment took my breath away. I started this little blog, knowing that a few, but only a few, people would read it, as a way of expressing something of the surface level of what I feel and experience and observe and wonder about as I try to survive the loss of my son. I had not thought about reaching out to anyone else ~ most days I feel as if I can barely reach for my toothbrush ~ or about my words having meaning to others inhabiting the same desert. For sure I had not thought about extending a hand to someone walking an even bleaker desert, the one where the sand is black and where no stars light the sky.

I am not a professionally trained counselor and so, although I have read reams of material on depression and on the thought processes that seem to lead to suicide, I have no idea and would not speculate on how that information affects someone who has taken any steps along that path. I can say three things, though, with some assurance:

If you have contemplated, or are contemplating, your own destruction, please seek help ~ no matter how exhausting or overwhelming or futile that effort seems. An act of suicide itself may be the immediate consequence of a lightning-quick decision, but a long and tortuous road has probably paved the way. A detour, even into a swamp, would be a very good thing.

I read this week that at least 50 people are profoundly affected by every suicidal death. The heartbreaking irony is that so many people who die by suicide think that their deaths will have little impact on those who know and love them, or even that few such people exist, when in fact the reverberations will be felt throughout the community that is theirs, probably for generations. And those reverberations will feel about as awful as anything possibly can feel.

And, finally: You are someone holy and precious. You are someone with gifts to share, in relationship with others and through the work that you have to give the world. You are someone whose very presence lights up a small patch of this earth. You are someone who should be able someday to look back on a long life and say, "Yes, I have experienced almost intolerable pain, but I have also seen great beauty and given something of worth." You are truly, in the most minute parts of your body and the smallest currents of your soul, an intricate creation and an exquisite treasure of your Creator ~ not someone to be carelessly discarded ~ but someone to be nurtured with gentleness and care.

10 comments:

August said...

Thank you for this; I accept what you say, and I believe you. And - I am seeing a therapist. I'm OK, truly. I feel like I stepped up to that edge (suicide) and kind of peered over, almost hopefully. It was almost comforting to think about killing myself. Honestly, I feel like many, many, many people feel these things, at least fleetingly. I am at a place now where I know I will never actually follow through with killing myself. I don't feel like I ever seriously considered it in the first place.

I'm really sorry if my comment threw you off balance. I just thought you might like to know that reading about your journey through the desert makes me look outside my own head. Your journal is a very good thing.

karen gerstenberger said...

Thank you for this. Your words are a comfort in grief, though I have not contemplated suicide. Perhaps the cause of the ache is not as important as the fact that the great medicine of LOVE needs to be applied. And you have offered that medicine to anyone who reads this.

Karen and Joe said...

Dear GG,
As you contemplate your future ministry, I hope you keep this as an option: ministering to the suicidal. It may be more than you can bear, but your sensitivity to their needs and your insider's compassion is obviously a deep source of encouragement. There are things none of us ever want to learn, but having been forced, you do have something powerful to share. I imagine you have already been a life preserver for many thrashing in the riptide of life.
Love and comfort to you.

Cassandra said...

I am a faithful reader of your blog, though I rarely comment. Your entry today is so powerful and moving, an inspiring entry amidst many others that you have written.

Although I have not lost a child, suicide has touched my life too--a family member years ago, and, more recently (well, it was almost 5 years ago, but seems so recent) a very good friend of mine. Your candor about your grief, reactions, and reflections are a helpful guide for me as I continually come to terms (for lack of a better phrase) with the suicide of my dear Sasha.

And then when I read August's comments yesterday, I think it took my breath away as well. Thank you for your kind response to her today. And your line about reaching out for help even if the only respite you can find is a swamp is beautiful. Don't hope for too much...but just keep hope alive. Little by little.

Thank you for writing and please know that more than a few people read your journal.

Cassandra

Lisa :-] said...

I have to say, there have been times--very bleak times--when I have thought about doing away with myself.

Having been a witness to your extremely painful journey, I also have to say I will never again consider suicide any kind of option for me...

Kathryn J said...

This post and the previous one with the comment by August have stuck with me. I have thought of suicide but assumed that doing so was fairly common - really. I am fairly certain that I've never been serious but there have been times when I have just wanted to give up and it seemed a viable option. It really isn't unusual for me to find myself in a place where I think nobody cares.

I have now had three good friends profoundly and forever changed by the suicide of someone close to them. Your experience and their experiences have shown me the effect on others but, honestly, when you are there - you think it won't affect anybody.

My mantra is "the actions of others are never about me - I am responsible for my own happiness".

Beach Walkin said...

I hope and pray... that as you move forward into your ministry... however it may be shaped... you always have the words: "You are someone holy and precious. You are someone with gifts to share, in relationship with others and through the work that you have to give the world. You are someone whose very presence lights up a small patch of this earth. You are someone who should be able someday to look back on a long life and say, "Yes, I have experienced almost intolerable pain, but I have also seen great beauty and given something of worth." You are truly, in the most minute parts of your body and the smallest currents of your soul, an intricate creation and an exquisite treasure of your Creator ~ not someone to be carelessly discarded ~ but someone to be nurtured with gentleness and care."

Those words apply to more people than we can count... people like me... people like my friends struggling with their calls... people who have lost their jobs... ordinary people who might not be considering suicide... but just need to know that we the church love them... and God loves them even more.

You are most holy... because you bring words of hope... to a world that is filled with hopelessness and despair. You are most blessed... because you have the courage to speak words of hope... out of your pain and grief. If that's not God at work... then I don't know God at work looks like.

circlibmm said...

Long time lurker delurking briefly. Your closing words are so powerful and beautiful. I sent them to my own son who is going through a shattering experience and hasn't always been sure that his life was still worth living. Thank you for sharing your journey - you are touching more people than you will ever know.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Saying a prayer for the person who is struggling with this. And for you, GG.

Diane said...

oh, GG, amen for all you said.