Teen suicide has been in the news a lot lately and has touched our lives personally this past week. Studies show that almost every person thinks about suicide some time in their lives. It might only be in passing, and no plans are ever made, but the thoughts surface.
In my search for answers after Stefanie’s death, I read many stories from the parents of children who committed suicide. They summed it up by saying that suicide is one of the cruelest of deaths for those left behind. They are left with feelings of shame, guilt and anger on top of their loss. Needing to know “why” is magnified to unbearable proportions.
Survivors should not feel responsible for the suicide. It’s not possible for one person to either cause or prevent a suicide, it is an act carried out in solitude and for reasons that might seem impossible for others to comprehend.
It is known that there is a limit to the emotional weight each person can withstand and the reason that prompts a suicide might just be the “straw that broke the camels back”. Their sense of judgment becomes lost and distorted.
How clearly we see solutions to the problems of others but when we are in the middle of our own, the answers aren’t always clear. For victims of suicide, these emotions are magnified to the extreme. The majority of suicide victims suffer severe depression.
Sometimes the victims of suicide aren’t fully aware of why they see suicide as their only option, which makes finding the answers to “why” for the survivors, impossible. They aren’t choosing to die but rather see suicide as their only escape from something they feel unable to resolve.
Sometimes, for those of us on the outside we judge the victim and the people in their lives reassuring ourselves that it could never happen to us. It’s not done to hurt others, but almost automatically, at least it was for me. A way to keep something so uncontrollable from touching my life.
Having felt judged, I realize more than ever how important it is to be nonjudgmental and offer support in any way possible.
Those who are left in the wake of a suicide need us to make an extra effort to reach out to them (and not just when it’s on the cover of the newspaper).