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Incomprehensible Suicide

Rizzoli and Isles is a show that I have enjoyed watching and the character, Detective Frost played by Lee Thompson Young, has been a favorite as he seemed more like a real person with common sense and a gentle soul. His weak stomach in the autopsy room always made me chuckle because that is me. Even though I was a nurse and loved working in surgery, autopsy did make me queasy. Lee Thompson Young, age 29, died this week from what has been ruled as a suicide. I don’t understand.

Several years ago, I came together with about ten people, pastors, social workers, and nurses from the church I was attending to discuss a GriefShare group. Of those people around the table, four had a son, daughter, or sibling who had died from suicide. Also in that same year, I helped start a Compassionate Friends group. Compassionate Friends is a support group organization for parents and grandparents who have had a child die. In this rural community, the first meeting had about 15 people come to the first meeting and of those, three had children who died from suicide. What is going on?

The purpose of my writing this blog is not to present answers. There are many psychologists and psychiatrists out there who have theories about why people commit suicide. I have listened to many family members who have spoke with these professionals in the hopes of getting some answers. There rarely are “good” answers to any death but a suicide has so many layers of guilt and disbelief added

What brings a person to the place where they feel that ending their life is the answer? Depression, despair, confusion, and the internal lies that say, “No one is as ‘bad’ as me,” “No one can help me” and “No one cares” are what we hear from diaries and notes left behind. What can I do as a friend or acquaintance?

Pay attention. Maybe that seems too simplistic. But think about how busy we are! We see people in the store aisles, in front of our local church or school, or in our neighborhood driveway. “Hi! How are you doing?” And do I really stop to listen and notice the response? Does the person avoid making eye contact? Do they mumble a no-reply? Do I stop and show interest? “Hey, we’re going to do fireworks Tuesday night. Would you come over and join us?” “Do you have plans for lunch after church? Would you come over for potluck?” Something as simple as an hour or two out of my life might make the difference in someone’s life or death.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee. – John Donne





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