Tuesday, September 11, 2012


National Suicide Prevention Week is September 9th through 15th, it surrounds World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th. Reading, knowing, discussing, seeing that this week exists, encourages awareness and sheds light on a subject that is too often whispered about and carries a social stigma. The quieter we remain about suicide*, the more people will be made to believe that they have to be alone in their struggle. No doubt, this leads to the fact that suicide increases every year.

Suicide is real, and it happens. And its deaths are real. Here are the facts.

• Suicide is the 4th leading cause of death among adults ages 18-65 in America.
• Firearms are used in more suicides than homicides
• Every 15 minutes, someone commits suicide, which is equal to about 101 American deaths by suicide every day. (every 15 minutes!)

Suicide needs to be brought out in the open. Discussion can lead to prevention. It's worth a try, isn't it?

In honor of NSPW, and in memory of those that felt they had no one to turn to, please talk about this subject. If something tells you in your gut that someone you know may need a friend, follow that instinct. It could be a look in their eyes, or the hesitancy in their voice, whatever it is - ask them how they are, please do it. Make time to listen, and do it without judging. Let them know you are there and will help. If they tell you they have thoughts of taking their life, make a call with them. People do commit suicide, so listen and stay with them. Make this call together, right away. You may not get another chance.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7) 1-800 -273-TALK(8255)

The truth about suicide is that it doesn't take away any duress or its pain. It's a devastating, permanent action that's not an answer - it just passes the weight of your burden on to someone else. The problems never disappear, just like the fact that you are on this planet can never be erased.

Taking your own life is beyond sad, or tragic, or horrific. Killing yourself is something that is done when thoughts aren't clear, when the mind is turned upside down, when the maze of thoughts becomes too twisted and coiled to the point of looking like there's no way out: and that the future is only more of the same.

I don't believe that anyone wants to end their life; I believe that they just want the days of living with despair and emotional torment to end.  

If someone turns to you and feels safe enough to speak honestly about the pain they're suffering, please listen. Listen without saying a word or giving a lecture. Be that person in society that doesn't let them down and who accepts them at the point where they are in their life right now.

I can't imagine a darker moment than those few that lead up to that final minute, when the person makes that move to just stop their life now. I don't know how all of us in the universe can't feel what goes on in those last seconds. The world must stop in its rotation for a millisecond, don't you think? The scream of their silent shout has to be heard somewhere.

Suicide happens across all demographics: no one is immune to it, all are stunned by it. Deciding to end your life is an action taken when the person has no other idea of what to do. The aftermath of an unfinished life - unnaturally yanked out of being - reverberates through those left behind in such a loud clamor, that years later, the whispered cause of death is still an undercurrent in the survivors' world.

How does anyone forget a suicide?

We don't.

It shapes us, it's a word we use to describe ourselves when asked who we are, it's the ache we feel when we hear yet another has taken their life.

The worst consequence of a suicide? How over forty years later, it's the first characteristic that comes to my mind, when asked who I am.

I am the child of a parent who committed suicide.

Please, if you know of anyone - or if you yourself have ever thought the world would be better without you - listen to my words here:

Listen To Your Mother Show, Madison, Wisconsin, Mother's Day, 2011. 

*I know about the imposed silence and oath of secrecy that family members ask for. I was asked to do the same, until I couldn't just watch as I'd hear of others taking their lives - and me, saying nothing. The first time I ever talked about my family and suicide was only a little over a year ago, at The Listen To Your Mother Show in Madison. Staying quiet helps no one.


  1. I listened again, even though I've heard it before.


    1. Thank you for being such a good friend, Ms. A. It means a lot.

  2. thanks empress..had a few friends over the years....and its hard, but there is help if we talk about it...

  3. Less than a year ago, it was my cousin. I hadn't seen him in years, had no idea how troubled he was, and his family ignored all the warning signs. 6 months ago, it was an acquaintance--a dear friend to many of my dear friends.

    I wrote about my cousin here Demons. (A place I've yet to make public or shared with anyone except you.)

    1. Going to read now, Cheryl.

      Thank you.

      You and I are always in the same mindset, aren't we?

  4. Thank you for speaking out. I lost an old friend last year. Still shakes me up thinking about it. I admire your strength, your compassion. Make a difference. {hugs}

    1. Thank you, Kerry. It's something that is permanent, and suicide never erases any problems or pain. The pain just gets passed on to someone else.

  5. We lost a friend through suicide too, quite violently. But back then, it was taboo to talk about it.

    1. It still is , France.

      People feel shame, as if it's their fault.
      It's an illness. Depression is physical.

      It's not a choice.

      Why would anyone choose that way to live?

      It needs medication, talk therapy, help, support, a community. A good friend.

      A place to go.

  6. Thank you for speaking out. I lost a friend nearly 20 years ago, and I never forget. I aspire to be this person. "If something tells you in your gut that someone you know may need a friend, follow that instinct. Ask them how they are."

  7. I listened again. Having been depressed to the point that I once tried to take my own life (I would've succeeded if a friend hadn't shown up unexpectedly and let herself into my house because of a "weird feeling" she had), I know the pain. And I also know THERE IS HOPE. Healing is possible, but you're right- we need to raise awareness and understanding. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Thank you, Kimberly.

      I thank you for the honesty in your comment.

      It's a dark, dark place, one that gives me chills when I think about the time that is reached when someone wants to step out of the world at that moment.

      I think of my father's last minutes. and how he decided: it would all be better without him.

      It wasn't.


  8. Thank you for this incredibly important message. I have been especially dismayed in the last couple of years to learn about the number of suicides by young people who feel isolated and alone (especially though bullied via social media). Your call to action is a powerful one: Be there. Listen. Cast a light on a dark place.

    Thanks for such a critical reminder this week.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing. Suicide has been a part of my family too, but we don't really talk about it. I know it must have been difficult for you to do so.

  10. lj:
    the first time I've ever publicly talked about this was one year ago at The Listen To Your Mother show on Mother's Day, 2011.

    It freed me and took away the shame I've carried since I was 6 yrs old.

    Then, again, at The Moth Show on in May this year.

    May seems to be my lucky month.

    I tell the story so there is a face to suicide. So that people think of me, the 6; yr old me, trying to understand why someone would kill themselves.

    If it sparks conversation and question, and seeking out and confession: what more could I ask for.

    My family doesn't talk about it, either. To the point that after I went public, my sister and brother stopped talking to me.

    BUt I had to say something: I couldn't watch and be quiet any more.

    There should be no stigma: there should be reaching out and dialogue.

  11. Odd and sad that suicide prevention awareness lasts 1 week. I guess that's better than 1 day for mothers or veterans or Martin Luther King, but...

    Your words are as beautiful as every life.

  12. I came here last night. I read this again this morning. I'm not going to wait to get better. I'm going to call someone today.

    Thank you.

  13. My mother committed suicide when I was 14 months old. I was told she died of cancer. This was potentially true, because she did have a fatal cancer. I found out by accident, when I was 13, how she had actually died. The secret, and the fact of her distraught state of mind have stayed with me.

    For me, knowing my own flesh was capable of killing herself has made me wary of my own darker emotions.

  14. Oh Alexandra, it's wonderful to see and hear you for the first time!

    I remember that post so well. You are incredibly brave and generous to open yourself so that others can be healed. I have been suicidal and I have carelessly thrown around threats to end my life, in front of my family. Earlier this year a friend of ours lost her brother to suicide. Seeing the impact on her and her family made it all real. It is not something to use as a weapon. I feel selfish in so many ways. Thank you for writing about this.

  15. I want to comment because we have a secret in our family too. We don't talk about it. No one talks about it.

    My family would stop talking to me if I did.

    How did you decide you would? To me, I'm afraid of losing my family. It seems wrong to not say anything about what happened.

  16. Thank you for posting awareness on this issue. As someone who came way too close to losing someone I love more than anything in the world to suicide, I say thanks everyday that I am not mourning that loss.

  17. This is so very important, A...someone very special to me is dealing with this right now, and my heart breaks for her.



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