Suicide || What Could Have Been Done?
Many years ago, thirty nine in fact, I was a school teacher for DODS (Department of Defense School in the Pacific) on Yokota Air Base. I was home on the particular Sunday afternoon this happened. A call had been sent out between Yokota Air Base and Tachikawa Air Base for donations of blood and we had all rushed to the nearest hospital to donate.
All we knew was that a teacher had been injured and needed transfusions. And we waited to hear that she was on the mend.
Such would not be the case. When we reported to school the following morning, we were all called to the meeting room where faculty meetings were held. The principal told us what had happened. A living, loving vibrant middle aged teacher was gone. She had been in the hospital and had forced open a window and jumped to her death.
She did not die immediately. That is why the call for blood donors had been made. Efforts to save her were futile. We were all shaken and deeply saddened.
She was plagued by fears and torments that she chose not to share. And thus ended a life, too soon, too tragically.
This was my first experience with death by suicide and I wished it would be the only one.
When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.— Harriett Beecher Stowe
A young life...
When my daughter was in seventh grade she was surrounded by bubbly cheerful friends. All of them were...it seemed.
One of them was not. One of them found no joy in his life. One of them was unable to face the next day. The future before him offered no promise, no solace, no reason to keep on keeping on.
One Saturday evening, he chose to end his life.
And a wake of devastation he left behind. The children in his class were stunned and overcome with grief. They all blamed themselves for not knowing, for not seeing that he was in pain.
No one ever really shared why he took his life. No one seemed to know, or if they did, they chose not to tell.
How tragic that was.
Suicide ~~~a frightening word.
It translates into a topic that no one wants to discuss. There is a finality to it that no one wants to deal with at all. It is a topic that brings up a plethora of reactions. There are those who find this as controversial as discussing the death penalty.
Imagine someone so troubled, so despondent, that living one more minute is not possible. Unable to see beyond the pain, the sadness, the fear of the future, this person chooses to end existence on earth.
For some, because of religious beliefs casting the person who makes this decision into the valley of the damned takes no thought. Others believe that things are never bad enough to end life and for that reason cannot forgive this drastic measure. Others struggle to make sense of it with no judgment call not taking a stand on either side of this issue.
Again as I am not in the position to judge the decision others make, I myself would not, could not judge that action by another.
It is just that it is an irreversible decision. Most, if not all, other decisions are reversible.
Not so with that one.
When the lights go out at night, alone with only the myriad of thoughts swirling around before them..echoes of 'what could have been done?' resound night after night.
The question remains unanswered.: What could have been done? What could I have done??
Powerful message to all who have lost hope in the video that is provided
The message in the video is powerful and gets at the heart of the matter. One more day he says...give it another chance.
You may know someone who would benefit from hearing this song.
Once you choose hope, anything's possible.— Christopher Reeve
What could be done??
For some, because of religious beliefs the person who makes this decision should be cast into the valley of the damned. Others believe that things are never bad enough to end life and for that reason cannot forgive this drastic measure. Others struggle to make sense of it with no judgment call and without taking a stand on either side of this issue.
As I am not in the position to judge the decision others make, I myself would not, could not judge that action by another.
It is just that it is an irreversible decision. Most, if not all, other decisions are reversible. Not so with this one.
When the lights go out at night, alone with only the myriad of thoughts swirling around before them..echoes of 'what could have been done' will resound night after night. The question remains unanswered.: What could have been done? What could I have done??
Never ever give up...
Never give in. Never. Never. Never. Never.
If you're going through hell, keep going.— Winston Churchill
No matter if it is " a wolf, wolf" cry...I would respond....
A complex series of reactions occurs in those who are left behind when a suicide happens in their family or to a close friend.. Guilt, sadness, anger, denial, blame, never ending questions.
Guilt---why didn’t I do more? Why didn’t I know? Why wasn’t I there?
In cases where the individual who accomplishes suicide, it is especially troubling for those left behind who had heard their friend or loved one say they would end their life on more than one occasion.
Sometimes this happens. A person will say over and over, time and time again, "I am going to kill myself. I can't do this any more!!"
After a while, hearing this over years and years, it becomes like the little boy who cried
WOLF, WOLF. You know that Aesop fable---a little boy cries wolf, wolf, several times and the townspeople come running, only to find no wolf. Finally there is a wolf, he calls and when he calls for help no one came.
Such may be the case with the individual who had threatened many times and never killed herself or himself. One day, giving fare warning, the deed is done, the fate is sealed.
Many say, "I do not know what I would do if I were in the situation such as the one described above"
I KNOW what I would do. Even if the person had threatened suicide daily for ten years, I would be there or the police would have been dispatched. The police would have been on a first name basis with this person. And, maybe just maybe, as a result, the person would have been committed to a hospital for therapy and maybe, just maybe that loving friend or relative would still be on the planet.
Of course it is easy for me to say what I would do. There are just some things we know we would do. For me there is no wavering on this point.
What can be done? What could I have done? Words that haunt each of those whose friend or family member have chosen suicide.
Sadness comes close on the heels of guilt if not simultaneously. Sadness that this person we loved as a friend or as a family member could no longer see one reason to wait for the sun to rise another day.
Sadness that all of the promise held within the psyche of that person is lost to the world.
Sadness that no longer can we sit and chat with them, go to a movie with them, go out to dinner with them, spend some quiet time in the same room with them....sad beyond measure.
Sad too that we did not recognize that the pain that she or he felt was so profound that it interrupted the rhythm of life that flowed within that dear person.
Sad that the little ones who had not had a chance to know this lovely human would only know now from pictures and stories told over and over at gatherings where inevitably the lovely person's name would come up and a story would need to be told.
Sad that we did not hear that last cry for HELP that came from the wilderness.
Anger and blame
Anger comes. Rage too perhaps.Anger at anyone that could be responsible for not intervening. Anyone who had hurt or wronged this person in an irreconcilable way would be the target of the anger.
Anger that someone else did not do enough. Anger that you or her or him or me..that we did not see, that we did not stop this from happening.
There are moments to when the anger is directed at the person who chose to end her life. You scream and yell and pull your hair out.."Why???? WHHHHHYYYYYYY did you do this? I would have done anything to help you. I do not understand. I won't understand. I do not want to try to figure it out!!!!"
And there must be someone to blame. Is it me?
"Should I blame myself?"...You may ask in a quiet moment, alone, with only the millions of thoughts that haunt you.
Am I to blame?
I know I did not hurt this person but I must blame someone.
I know, I will blame the therapist who did not see this coming. That's it. The therapist should have seen this coming. Why didn't she??
And, while I am at it, I will blame the boy friend who broke her heart. The boy friend who strayed and had many lovers and then finally broke her heart into so many pieces she could no longer gather them up and put them together again like all of the king's horses and all of the king's men tried to do for Humpty Dumpty.
And, let me not forget the kids who taunted her as a child because her ears were too big and reminded them of Dumbo.
But it all comes back to me.
Why didn't I know?
Why didn't I do more?
Where was I?
Walking around in a fog, you may find that yourself thinking " This is not real. This has not happened. I will wake up and she will be beside me giggling and chatting."
You wait for her to walk into the room and fill it with her life's blood.
"She cannot be gone" keeps running through your mind. Time passes and still that anticipation of her arrival, of waking from this endless nightmare persists.
And it will for many long days, weeks, months, and years. But gradually you will realize it is no longer possible to deny the reality and it will settle over you.
And you will continue to wonder what could have been done.
Attention getting ploy??
"The first and most obvious behavior that may be exhibited when someone" .... is contemplating suicide " is that they mention the fact that they often feel as if they want to do away with themselves. Unfortunately, many people who express this to others are often viewed as one who wants attention. While this may be true in some situations, isn't it only right that they get the attention and help that they are seeking? If they feel the need to express their desire to kill themselves, it is only right that we take the time to take them seriously and help them get the help that they need."
If you hear this from someone you love, respond as quickly as you can. Lead them to help.
Signs and symptoms
There are pages on line and books filled with articles on the signs to look for ...what to be aware of in a friend or family member that might alert you to the danger of suicide.
These lists of signs and symptoms are all well and good. And I do not say do not look at them. I do not say they are not of importantance.
I am saying that despite these lists and despite being proactive, suicide still happens.
It still happens.
Have you ever heard this: no matter what you do, intervene as you may, that if a person really wants to kill herself or himself, no one can stop it? They will find a way?
I am not sure if I agree with or believe it but it does make me wonder.
That is still not an excuse for not intervening. As I mentioned earlier in this article, if I knew someone was contemplating suicide, I would be the busy body friend or relative who would get involved, every time.
I just would.
That would be to salve my conscience in part but to save my precious friend from an untimely death.
I would know that in my heart of hearts I had done everything I could possibly do to help.
Does that mean I would not go through the stages of grief?
Obviously not. But that would remove one element of the process to a degree. I would know I had done as much as I possibly could for this person who had been a huge part of my life.
What to Look For
What to look for....
"Excessive sadness or moodiness
Changes in personality and/or appearance
Dangerous or self-harmful behavior
Recent trauma or life crisis
the short list
- Who is at risK?
- "Older people who have lost a spouse through death or divorce
- People who have attempted suicide in the past
- People with a family history of suicide
- People with a friend or co-worker who committed suicide"
There are many other triggers such as horrors endured during war, failed relationships, lack of self worth, feeling hopelessness. These are only a few triggers that may send someone into the abyss from which there is no return.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, this be a wake up call. Run, don't walk, to the nearest mental health professional. There is no shame in seeking help. There is still a stigma in our country about having mental healthy interventions. But it can save your life, or the life of someone you love if you get help.
Call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK. Someone is waiting to receive your call and to listen.
Goodness out of sorrow....
Can there possibly be any goodness that results after this kind of devastation?
It can lead you to closer ties with your family and friends.
It can cause you to once again be aware that this life we have been given is so tentative and that at any moment it can end.
It can renew your personal passion for life and with introspection find that no problem is so great that suicide is ever the option. Death by one's own hand is never an option, never an answer.
It can be a way that families and friends reconnect and learn to listen better to each other. It can cause families and friends to look at each other with new eyes and look less at the imperfections and more at the unique qualities each can bring to our lives and to the world.
Do not wait for some sorrow to come to your family. Call or go see that person that you have been apart from for far too long.
Of course you don't die.
Death doesn't exist.
You only reach a new level of vision,
a new realm of consciousness,
a new unknown world.— Henry Miller
No More Demons or Pain of Any Kind
And for the beloved friend or family member, there no longer is pain and sadness. No demons to torment their soul are present. ♥ ♥♥♥ ♥♥♥♥
Questions will remain
And questions will remain. They will. Every waking moment and even into sleep, you will ask yourself the same questions again and again.
What could I have done?
Why didn't I listen better than I did?
Why didn't I hear what she was saying?
Why didn't I go there when I couldn't reach her on the phone?
Why didn't I send the police when I could not get there in time?
And to her you would say,
"Why did you do this? Why did you leave us too soon?" My mind finds it so very difficult to wrap itself around this as hard as I try.
© 2013 Patricia Scott
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