Taking The Lid Off

Dawn, the start of a new day

“Are you angry with him?” a friend asked me.
“No, I am not angry,” I answered.
“How can you not be angry? If my son committed suicide I would be SO angry, I would be SO mad, I would be FURIOUS with him.”
“You can’t know that,” I explained. “Because your son is alive and well. As for my husband and I, we are not angry with our son, we LOVE him. Yes, we are devastated, we are heartbroken, we wish there was a way of erasing what has happened and have our son back. There isn’t a single moment that we don’t think about it.”

And it is true; my thoughts, and I know my husband’s too, go round and round in a never-ending loop.
“He didn’t start the day thinking that he was going to kill himself,” I tell myself as images of me bending over his lifeless body at the hospital flash through my mind.
I could feel that his skin was cold, but his lustrous hair in my hands had not changed, it was clean and soft and smelled as fresh as it always had.
“Do you bother having a shower, washing your hair and shaving; if you start the day thinking that you are going to kill yourself? Do you have breakfast, bother to go to all your classes, talk to friends, and have ice cream with your beloved sister if you know that you are going to kill yourself?” I ask myself over and over.
“Do you go and chat with your suitemate, then with the girl for whom you’ve often made espressos and with whom you planned to go and see the Nutcracker and take for a ride on your bike one day; if you you’ve decided that you are going to kill yourself?”
“And you couldn’t have been thinking of killing yourself when you text messaged a friend asking him to go with you to Pomme Frites at one thirty in the morning.”
No, my son did not start the day thinking that he would kill himself before the sun would rise again; that is the conclusion I come to every time. And then I go over it again, and again, as if by finding the treacherous moment of the missing puzzle, I could intervene and stop him.
I would have planted myself at the entrance of Bobst, and instead of letting him through, I would have taken him into my arms and told him that the sun would be up soon, and that in the light of day everything looks brighter. We would have walked away together from the treacherous building and the treacherous moment. In the warmth of the new sun and of our love, you would have lived to see another day, just as many who had tried what you did before you, have lived to see many new days.

“When your son died, I was hysterical,” my friend tells me, bringing me back to the present.
“I did some research, and discovered that suicide is the third leading cause of death amongst adolescents. I went to the school to speak to my son’s teacher. I wanted to know if they were aware of what a serious issue suicide is among young people,” she continued.
“The teacher thought I was crazy, she said that suicide is not a subject that is tackled in school. That there is nothing that schools can do about it.”

I am not sure if I am quoting my friend word for word, nevertheless it echoes what I have been hearing since Andrew died. Suicide is shrouded in ignorance.
Well then, ignorance is not terminal, it is easy to treat and I call upon educators in schools and colleges to start looking closely and openly at the subject of suicide.
Sweeping it under the rug, rather than addressing it, is what makes it dangerous. Contagion, in my opinion, does not occur when taking the lid off this painful way of dying; rather, from the mystery it is accorded.

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6 thoughts on “Taking The Lid Off

  1. As a 23 year old, not much older or different from Andrew, I see the flaw in society surrounding suicide, but first around emotions and expressing them. Young men are supposed to be strong, and never show weakness. “Men don’t cry”. But we are all weak sometimes and we all need help sometimes. The problem is that it is looked down upon by society, by our friends and even by our family to feel depressed, down, unhappy, unfulfilled and so on. If someone does express signs of unhappiness, responses with negative connotations are returned. “Is that a Cry for help”, “look where you come from, things could be worse”, “what do you have to be sad about”. Does it matter why?

    Young people, especially young males need to be raised with an open dialog, where they are used to, expected to and encouraged to express their emotions.

    Where can a young person go, when they feel eternally hopeless, if their friends, family, school and society look down upon depression and expressing emotions? A 1800 number is not the answer, together we can create a better system.

    -All the love in the world E.

  2. The question is how to get the box opened and the issue out there … I came across this site which is written by students with depression. I’ve not had a chance to read all their stories but you might be interested.

    http://www.studentdepression.org/

    I hope you going to Robs’ fencing match can lift your spirits a little. x

    • Thank you, this is really helpful. I will read it, I am interested. There is an organization called Active Minds, that as far as I understand it, focuses on the issue of suicide on campuses and they are putting together a display with backpacks, representing the 1100 students of die by suicide on campus every year. The display is called send silence packing.

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