When Someone Takes His Own Life

kali - The Hindu Goddess of destruction

The following was sent to me by one of my readers. It so captures how I feel about those like my son, who die by suicide, that I have decided to make it into a post.
It explains why I am not angry, why I have never been angry with my son.
While I had no idea when he was alive of his inner suffering, I guess it now.
His good humor, joviality, kind heart, loyalty, beautiful smile, true though they were, they belied the torment within. Compassion, love and stoicism spurred him into putting up a happy front.
How can I be angry with him? How can I be angry when I realize how lonely he must have been, with his suffering as his only company.
I would have taken it from him; had I had half a chance. I would have stood in front of his demons with all the fury of a mother seeing her child threatened: ” GO NO FURTHER! ” I would have thundered.
I would have turned into Kali, the Hindu Goddess of destruction and turned the demons into ashes.

I would have, I would have, I would have… That’s all I can say… My Darling Andrew….

When Someone Takes His Own Life
by Norman Vincent Peale

In many ways, this seems the most tragic form of death. Certainly it can entail more shock and grief for those who are left behind than any other. And often the stigma of suicide is what rests most heavily on those left behind…..

And my heart goes out to those who are left behind, because I know that they suffer terribly. Children in particular are left under a cloud of differentness all the more terrifying because it can never be fully explained or lifted. The immediate family of the victim is left wide open to tidal waves of guilt: “What did I fail to do that I should have done? What did I do that was wrong?” To such grieving persons I can only say, “Lift up your heads and your hearts. Surely you did your best. And surely the loved one who is gone did his best, for as long as he could. Remember, now, that his battles and torments are over. Do not judge him, and do not presume to fathom the mind of God where this one of His child is concerned.”

A few years ago, when a young man died by his own hand, a service for him was conducted by his pastor, the Rev. Weston Stevens. What he said that day expresses far more eloquently than I can, the message that I’m trying to convey. Here are some of his words:

“Our friend died on his own battlefield. He was killed in action fighting a civil war. He fought against adversaries that were as real to him as his casket is real to us. They were powerful adversaries. They took toll of his energies and endurance. They exhausted the last vestiges of his courage and his strength. At last these adversaries overwhelmed him. And it appeared that he had lost the war. But did he? I see a host of victories that he has won!

“For one thing, he has won our admiration, because even if he lost the war, we give him credit for his bravery on the battlefield. And we give him credit for the courage and pride and hope that he used as his weapons as long as he could. We shall remember not his death, but his daily victories gained through his kindnesses and thoughtfulness, through his love for family and friends, for animals and books and music, for all things beautiful, lovely and honorable. We shall remember not his last day of defeat, but we shall remember the many days that he was victorious over overwhelming odds. We shall remember not the years we thought he had left, but the intensity with which he lived the years that he had. Only God knows what this child of His suffered in the silent skirmishes that took place in his soul. But our consolation is that God does know, and understands.”

We salute you Andrew, our Fallen Knight!


41 thoughts on “When Someone Takes His Own Life

  1. Wonderful words indeed, and comforting … perhaps when I question why God didn’t step in, why He didn’t send an angel to soften the fall … we can gain comfort in that perhaps it was because He knew that for whatever reason Tigs had had enough of fighting the battles, and wanted to declare the war over. And perhaps … and this is difficult to say … but perhaps if somehow one of us had intervened we would not have been able to make things better for him, just extended the pain. Comfort indeed, but not the warmest sort.

    Brave, kind, bright, funny and fair – we should salute this hero of a cruel war. All my love.


    • My Fallen Knight. It took his life to slay his dragon. What fear he felt we’ll never know, not until we’ll see him again, but it must have taken the courage of a tiger to….

  2. You’re pointing your post right at me…. again.

    I was told in grief therapy, that there would be anger. And how to deal with this anger. And yet, the anger never came.

    I too did not understand his pain, partially because he told us all what we wanted to hear.

    His smile… His laughter… the intensity of his eyes… all of it, was for us.

    Sensitive, kind, loving, nurturing, giving……this was Kerry.

    And I understand The idea of a battlefield …

    Jackson, Kerry’s son, recently asked me if his father was a soldier. I told him that, although he was not serving in the military, his opponent was very powerful, he struggled daily, and he was very brave.

    Guilt is perhaps the most difficult to overcome. In Kerry’s suicide note he wrote, “I realize that I can’t get mad at people when they don’t understand – but its not easy…”

    But YOU smiled, and you laughed and you gave us all so much love. And we welcomed it. And we stood beside you. So proud.

    If only I had known…….

    Its hard to understand the concept of suicide if you are not a survivor, or if you yourself are not suicidal. Kerry ending his life was unimaginable to me. My personal mission now, is to show people just how real it is.

    • You and me both my new friend. That’s why we are going “taking to The Hill” isn’t it?
      Indeed, no anger and guilt APLENTY!

  3. Esmeralda,

    In my previous post, you missed my point completely and this is a perfect example of why, when someone is depressed, others run away or sneak out the back door.

    Did you read this part: “But when Esmeralda tells me that she is taking a positive step, I find that there is an almost cellular change in me. I want to help. I want to cheer her on. I want to be part of this in some small or large way…..It is all about the fight.”

    The “giving up” I am talking up is the people who give up life and kill themselves.

    The discussion my dear, was about ME. The point was speaking honestly about watching MY feelings and reactions to this event.

    There are two components when responding to someone who is sad or “down” One is empathy and the other is trying to help them get up again. And yes, absofuckinglutely there is a statute of limitation on empathy. It is another one of those dirty little secrets that we don’t like to talk about. You come from Sicily where, not that long ago, every woman over 40 wore black for the rest of her life because she was always morning the death of someone and the mourning periods were very long. Didn’t Queen Victoria wear black forever after Albert died? In some countries, if you don’t mourn enough outwardly, people many say nasty things about you.

    But this is America. This is a nation built by people who left their dumpy countries, said their tearful goodbyes to family and friends knowing full well that would never see them again. They got on ships, dried their tears and moved on. That is the spirit of America and Americans. We don’t like long mourning periods.

    Our nation is based on the principles of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Suicide is death…so we don’t like that. Depression is the antithesis to pursuing happiness. That’s why we don’t like to talk about that. We are not a nation based on helping each other. We are a nation based on self-reliance. And we are innovators.

    What happens after a person kills himself? Well, one thing is that everyone starts looking backwards for the signs. And what the hell are the signs?

    So, let us take you. Let us pretend that tomorrow’s post is from someone in your family.
    “Esmeralda took her life last night. After months of fighting terrible depression she…”etc.

    So, what would everyone do, including family friends and the PRESS? Well, they would re-read all your posts, right? And they’d say, “Every day since her son Andrew died she has posted comments about how she cannot function, how she relives the terrible night, how she keeps asking, “Why? Why did you do it Andrew?”

    Then all the psychologists of the world (amateur and real) would come out and say. “Reading her posts we see Classic Signs of…blah blah…” Just think of what they would write! And all of us around you would be called IDIOTS for not seeing that you were at risk. Right? (Please I am not suggesting that you are suicidal)

    My point is this: How the hell is anyone suppose to know when someone is dangerously depressed and contemplating suicide? What is the difference between being very sad for a long period of time and being suicidal? And what can others do about it?

    Therefore, I have a proposal. I know that there are many, many of you out there reading these posts. So this is a question to ALL of you who may have ever considered suicide:

    How could your friends and family know that this was going through YOUR mind?

    If you ever felt this way again, who would you talk to and who would you NEVER tell? Why?

    What would you want to hear and what would you NOT want to hear from them. Why?

    I’ll go first.
    In my youth, thoughts of suicide danced around more often than I’d like to admit. But I don’t remember those days clearly. However, a few years ago, I lost the will to live…everything seemed bleak. I would never have discussed this with my family because I didn’t want to worry them. And I also don’t think they would have been of help.

    I cracked the door of the subject with a few friends and one by one they pulled back from me. You see, I am the person people go to when they are sad, I am the one people go to when they want to laugh, I am the one who is positive, I am the one who is fearless, I am the one who is strong. My friends could no longer recognize me when I did not play that role. If I was leaning on them, they could not lean on and depend on me, so they left.

    Professional help? Nope. Socially I have met many professional therapists and I think that many are crack pots. Perhaps as therapists, they are wonderful, but I couldn’t get past my experiences socially. To me it was like going to a personal trainer at the gym who was fat, or going to a young kid who was an athlete. The fat one couldn’t even take his own advice, and the young one was young and athletic. When I was young and athletic I didn’t need a personal trainer, what could he know about my current condition? Besides, it cost too much. (That was my thinking)

    It wasn’t until I saw an old friend who is very psychic. She freaked out when she saw me and also tried to step away. Then I forced her to tell me what was wrong. She told me that there was something very black all around me (even though on the exterior I was smiling). Well, she nailed it on the head.

    To make along story short, that event shook me up and gave me courage. I began to think that depression was a THING; it was not me. It was something on me like dirt or in me like a virus or like a dark being.And that was the first step in helping me turn it around.

    When the Black Knight rears his head, as he does once in a while, I think of it as a person or beast that must be slaughtered, rather than thinking there is something wrong with me. That gives me strength and allows me to take positive action.

    Ok …so the rest of you out there…what about you?

    • Thank you Mark, I appreciate your comments and the care and time you take writing them. I am glad that you were able to finally turn your depression around, but even more, that in the process, you acquired the skills to deal with the Black Knight, as you call it.
      Indeed, we all have our unique work to do. Each of us, in our own way, called to stir things up to a degree limited only by our imagination and the intensity of our pursuit.

    • I struggled, trying to get through your comment, in its entirety, before commenting. I admit, I wasn’t 100% successful

      Here are a few of my bullet points:

      “my dear” as in “The discussion my dear, was about ME”

      so, condescending!!! Imagine this exchange…”Mark, my dear, you’re not listening, you need to listen to ME, ME, ME”

      I would NEVER say that! because its undermining whatever real emotion you are experiencing.

      “I know that there are many, many of you out there reading these posts.”

      HERE, you sound like you’re searching for an audience. Are you searching for an audience Mark?

      “Depression is the antithesis to pursuing happiness.”

      Depression is not a choice. Depression is not something you brush off, (like dirt), there is no antibiotic that will cure, or inoculation to defend you.

      Depressing thought are just that, thoughts. And yes, I agree, we each have the ability to change our thoughts. But clinical depression is not just thoughts. It’s an imbalance of the brain.

      that being said, I’m glad that you were able to relieve yourself of your depressing mind set.

      I too, had months of deeply depressing thoughts and even attempted suicide. but there was one problem… when I took myself to the edge I couldn’t’ go forward because I was not suicidal. I was not suicidal because I was not suffering from chronic, debilitating depression.

      Thank you Mark for reminding me why I speak out.

      This is just my opinion. I’m not an expert. I am a mother who also lost a son to suicide, and when I read Esmeralda’s posts and I say, out loud “go, go, GO….!!!” she’s not wallowing or frolicking in self destruction, she’s empowering!!! She’s empowering all of us who are living with grief.

      (key word being “living”)

      • Well, in that case I’ll just have to: go, go, GO….. I will… anyone else joining? Plenty of work to do.

      • Comment #1 I am sticking to my guns about the comment. I wrote something about myself and my feelings and Esmeralda misinterpreted them. She thought I was talking about her. I was talking about myself, just as you were talking about yourself and your feelings.

        Comment #2: Did you read the rest of what I said or were you too busy being pissed or depressed to be bothered? I asked a QUESTION and asked others to SHARE their experiences and feelings. I said:

        “So this is a question to ALL of you who may have ever considered suicide:
        How could your friends and family know that this was going through YOUR mind?
        If you ever felt this way again, who would you talk to and who would you NEVER tell? Why?
        What would you want to hear and what would you NOT want to hear from them. Why?”
        I posted my own experience with thoughts of suicide in order to encourage, that is, “give courage” to other to do the same. Why? Because if we open up an honest discussion we might be able to help someone else before he or she jumps. Because we might be able to see the signs. Because we might be able to understand what is helpful to say and do, and what is not.

        Comment #3 I never suggested that depression was a choice, Once again, if you read more clearly, you would have seen that. I was only explaining one of the reasons people don’t like to be around the depressed. There are many more. Abandoning a depressed person can have disastrous results, but that is reality.

        As far as chemical imbalances are concerned, are all suicides the result of chemical imbalances? And, by the way, did you read my previous post in which I listed many different kinds of suicides and asked people to consider how different kinds there were and the diffract emotional responses they evoke?

        I believe it is exactly because of people like you that this subject is shrouded in secrecy and myth. When a topic come up that is painful you attack the person who brings it up. I say, “Turn on the floodlights, open all the doors and windows, let us get some fresh air and light on the subject.”

        As far as being offended my “my dear” comment. I will bet that you get offended by a lot of things.

  4. You have a good point in that grieving can and is culturally different. We had no outward signs about our personal loss by suicide, but very hyper aware of this tragic, painful act as our family has been riddled with it. We lost a nephew at age 17 and my husband’s mother tried unsuccessfully a couple of times. It was a taboo subject that we were willing to look and seek immediate help when needed as we were not going to find ourselves in the church pew “asking how? and why?” Our son and daughter were acutely aware of the pain this death causes those left behind and even tho they were young when they lost their cousin (5 and 7 years) it made a lasting impression. My son made a comment to a pal who he was hanging with when am acquaintance died of suicide “wow, I would never have the guts to do that”. But he did. The spring of 2007 3 days shy of his beloved father’s 50th birthday he hung himself while 3 of the people who loved him the most slept above. An emotional accident, a tragic choice, an impulsive act to get out of the pain of a broken heart. A death by adolescence. We know that this was an act that came then and there and not planned or hinted at…this man/child would never have done this to his father on the eve of his birthday. Hands down what I hear from the many voices I have extended myself to regarding this subject is that these people who leave us this way are the most sensative, creative and loving souls. There will never be a better hugger than my Jono. Instead of dwelling on his absence as I did for the first couple of years I now find blessings in the people I’ve met thru his passing, the wisdom I am gaining, the role of teacher (I didn’t necessarily ask for) and the beauty of the moments life has to offer that I know Jono would want me to appreciate.

  5. Thank you for sharing your experience. I admire your turning a tragedy into an opportunity, confident all along of your son’s love.
    Love, Esmeralda 🙂

  6. Mark,
    I’m sorry that people left you when you were “down.” I’m not doing that. I’m here and I’m listening. As a habit, I do not shy away from those who are venting their true emotions. Thank you for responding to my comment, and I wish you all the best. Shannon

  7. Wow Mark!  Your posts really make me THINK! (I empathize, cry, remember, smile, or agree as I read everyone’s contributions to this online conversation. There is something valuable to me in each post, comment, or reply.) But your comments make me work and think. I think what follows is just Part 1 because you asked a lot of questions!

    I’m no suicidiologist and I’ve only read stuff on the subject to try to understand what happened to my child. As I’ve read, I’ve realized how LITTLE I do understand.  You asked: 

    “My point is this: How the hell is anyone suppose to know when someone is dangerously depressed and contemplating suicide? What is the difference between being very sad for a long period of time and being suicidal? And what can others do about it?”

    There are answers to these questions. I am definitely not the best person to give those answers.  But I SHOULD know them.  There are basics everyone should know like how we’ve been educated to know the warning signs of an impending heart attack and what to do if a heart attack (crisis) occurs.  The answers are in the suicide prevention literature. Probably just googling “suicide prevention” would get you those answers. One book I read “How I Stayed Alive When My Brain was Trying to Kill Me” by Blauner ( a woman) details her experience with suicidal thoughts and what she did / does. I don’t think the definitive work on suicide prevention exists. Especially because for so long suicide has been socially and religiously taboo. There are many problems / obstacles to knowing how to recognize and prevent besides societal undereducation. Even the “experts” miss the signs, if indeed any were given (in things I’ve read.

    My son exhibited what you could call all the “classic” signs from the books and websites I’ve read.  But because friends and family were un and undereducated, didn’t communicate with one another, and misjudged the severity of the suicidal thoughts, he had a suicidal crisis (like having a heart attack with no one around) and he died. He was a smart young man! He knew something was wrong. He tried all kinds of stuff–spiritual methods, western medicine, nutrition,  alternative medicine/methods and stuff I probably don’t know of.  He experienced a crisis and died. I know his death was preventable IF he had not hid what was going on in his head and IF those around him–friends, family, associates, 1st responders (ie police) knew what to look for, what to ask , how to listen, and how to respond. 

    I have gotten bolder since my child died. I’ve asked students (I work in a school) and strangers sitting alone on the beach, you look down, would you like to talk? Are you having suicidal thoughts? I can listen.  (I also know what to do next). Though I really am an untrained novice trying to better educate myself.  Here’s a mneumonic I recently came across on a website to recognize warning signs:     
    Maybe if we as a society promote suicide prevention education, like sexually transmitted diseases and drug prevention education, maybe more people with suicidal thoughts will survive and live with better quality of life.  And I think this is the main intent of Esmeralda’s blog. Lots of survivors and others have the same mission.  Perhaps we’ve lived to see the day that understanding suicide and how to prevent it is important to our society.       

  8. To Mark (and all): 
    Part 2:How could your friends and family know that this was going through YOUR mind?  YOU have to trust them enough to tell them. Hopefully you have people in your life you can trust. YOU have to be open, vulnerable, weak–know you are heading toward or in a suicidal crisis. Better societal education will take away the stigma and replace stigma with love and compassion. (We also know little about mental illnesses and disorders. )  

    If you ever felt this way again, who would you talk to and who would you NEVER tell? Why? I’ve been depressed without seriously considering suicide. My religious beliefs have kept me, and I am only speaking for me, from moving into dangerous life-threatening suicidal ideation. I might choose not to talk. Instead I  journal, pray, exercise, sleep, take meds if I need, diet to support minimizing the effects of stress, volunteer. I am more open to talking since my son died. I can feel if I am thinking in a way that would begin a spiral into depression. I don’t let myself get sucked into the vortex.  Last year I came across a book called Transforming Depression by Doc Childe describing strategies from a program called “Heart Math”. These helped me more than meds last year when my grief and complicating physical issues sucked me under.   

    What would you want to hear and what would you NOT want to hear from them. Why? I would want them to listen to me. Not trivialize my problem(s). Ask “have you considered” kind questions.  BUT if I was in a crisis I would want them to be prepared to act and act to save my life!  

    Suicidal thinking can be viewed, again in my non-expert perspective, on a continuum–from minor to crisis. I by nature do things more slowly. I could imagine some people jumping from one end of the continuum to a crisis more quickly than I could. That’s scary to imagine. 

  9. I agree, what a great contributions.

    Just to clarify a little: when I wrote that people abandoned me when I was depressed, I was not looking for sympathy, although it is very sweet and touching if anyone felt an empathic sigh.

    I just wanted to bring out to the open what can (and in my case, did) happen. The more we can step back at look at events without judging, the more we can understand.

    That cliché, “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger” is apropos here. I was able to get through the tough moments and afterwards, I realized that if I were to ever find myself in this condition again, I could not depend on my friends. I knew I’d have to depend on myself.

    For the record, I have since joked with my friends about how useless they were when I needed them most. But deep inside this was a profound revelation. Knowing who you can turn to and who you can’t in times of crisis is important.

    That is why I asked the question, “How could your friends and family know that this was going through YOUR mind?” and “If you ever felt this way again, who would you talk to and who would you NEVER tell? Why?”

    We all know the people “should” seek professional help. But that isn’t reality. I am a guy. Men don’t ask directions when they are lost, right? We “should” but we don’t like to (unless it is that nice lady who talks through my GPS.) Maybe that is how we are wired.

    And men like to “fix” things and problems. We want solutions not discussions. And that is the paradox. Nothing can be fixed until one knows what is really wrong. The only way to find out what is wrong is to talk about it. That’s the Catch-22.

    For many people it is not easy to utter the words, “I don’t want to live anymore”. I don’t know why. As painful as it may be to hold that feeling indeed, actually saying it seems even more difficult.

    • I don’t think that they don’t want to live anymore, they want the pain to end. And realizing after they’ve gone that they were in pain; that’s the killer that survivors find themselves living with, amongst other things.
      In broad strokes, there are two elements to these conversation/discussion. Suicide a big, complex, multilayered subject. Survivors, another deep, complex subject.
      Suicide survivors are like the survivors of an explosion; they are alive, yes, but grievously wounded. An entire family of human beings who have been ripped apart, dismembered, shredded inside and out. No anesthetic to dull the pain, no tourniquet to stem the bleeding other than what we ourselves can muster.
      Some of us, even while bleeding and writhing in pain turn to activism, or curl up and cry, eat soup, stay warm and keep simple. Since none are available, we make our own pain killers.

      • Suicide and being a survivor of suicide are indeed deep, broad, complex, multilayered subjects!  Yet you still blog, not realizing what the road ahead is. One book that resonated with me, simplified what seemed so complex, and  finally answered the ever-persistent Why? Question  is “Why People Die by Suicide” by survivor and psychologist Thomas Joiner (2005).  Maybe it won’t answer that haunting, insistant question for every survivor and maybe I just read it at the right time, but I’m putting the title out there for consideration.)

  10. I must correct you here. In some cases there is pain, but in others there is numbness. There is a difference between saying, “I want to kill myself” and saying “I don’t want to live anymore.” Pain has energy, numbness has emptiness.

    Both suck.

  11. Perhaps…but it is a different kind of energy and (maybe?) has to be handled differently.

    I am thinking of the bankers who killed themselves when the stock market crashed. There was a certain instantaneous-ness (that isn’t a word, I know) to that. And it has a kind of momentum, a sort of positive energy , if you will. Maybe a touch of hysteria, too.

    Then there is a suicide of the lonely,or the person who doesn’t have the mental strength to go on. That has a kind of black hole, battery-depleted, stalled- car-on-an-empty-road energy. It also many have the feeling of “I don’t want to play this game anymore; I want to go home.” It has the feeling of, “let me close my eyes and never wake up” .

    that is very different from ” AAAH! I have lost everything!!!”

    The first is described with exclamation points. The other is described with no punctuation and no capital letters.

    (Does that make sense or do I sound like I am out of my mind?)

    • Mark. It makes sense to me. I don’t know if each kind of pain is equally lethal.

      I seem to recollect reading…somewhere…that when you’re really severely depressed you don’t have / can’t muster the energy to act. It’s as you begin to emerge that you can act, think somewhat “better” ( I need a better word here!) and decide you’re done fighting so hard to live, that the quality of life you’re living sucks and the prospects for that changing ever are slim to none, and you just want the pain to end! (That’s why bipolar or manic depression is so deadly.)

  12. I happened upon this poem today posted yesterday (2-21-10) on Facebook, AFSP’s page by a fan, Paula L Buzard.

    WHY ?

    Why do we ask…
    WHY ?

    Why did I do
    the things I did ?
    Why did you do
    what you chose to do ?
    It all comes back to
    the same question….
    WHY ?

    Why did you feel
    you had to take
    your own life ?
    Why did you leave
    us all to grieve ?
    Why is there an empty
    space within my heart ?

    Always the same question…
    WHY ?

    Paula L Buzard

  13. there comes a point where the why matters not…that answer went with the person who left you. How can you ponder an unanswerable question? like a dog chasing it’s tail, when he gets a hold of it then what?

      • Doesn’t it depend on who is asking and WHY the person is asking? Aren’t we glad that 100 years ago doctors didn’t say, “I don’t know why this guy died” and then left it at that?

        They poked and prodded, asked questions, read all the accumulated literature on the subject, looked with a microscope, did autopsies, etc and discovered that there were these things called germs and viruses and cancer and different kinds of blood cells. Then they tried to figure out how they worked and what happened when they malfunctioned. Then they try to find ways to make malfunctions happen less frequently. And sometimes they got it right and sometimes they got it wrong.

        In the case of suicides we are often dealing with the science of the mind and the science of emotions. We cannot just admit defeat and say, “It is unknowable” can we?

        There are many pieces of information that must be assembled from many different modalities and angles. My biggest objection of Western psychology (I studied it in university) was that it ignores the thousands and thousands of years of knowledge from the east. Delusionally, Westerners think they INVENTED the study of the mind. The ancient cultures studied the mind, the way it worked, the way to control thoughts, and the mind-body connection thousands of years before Freud was born. We must not forget the ancients. They have much to teach us.

        Finally, rather than just asking “Why did he (or she) commit suicide”, why not ALSO ask, “Why shouldn’t I kill myself? What keeps me here? Why am I here?” Because you see, if you can find the answer to why you want to live, you may also have a clue as to why someone else no longer wanted to remain here.

      • I have to say that you do have a thought provoking perspective, as rayofsunshine pointed out.
        I do agree with you, I think you refer to the Rishis of Ancient India, they were true scientists of the mind. They taught us that through meditation we can know ourSelves.
        I am advocating the introduction of Yoga and Meditation in schools, from Kindergarden onwards. I intend presenting this view when I go to Washington and meet with our lawmakers.

      • Susan, yes…so true that the survivor does come to a point where the why matters not. Definitely the complex answer went with the person who left.

        For me it was a little different…my “why?” was partially satisfied (note not answered) after reading my son’s journals and after reading to understand more about suicide. I put the why? question to rest after reading Why People Die by Suicide by Thomas Joiner. I don’t know if it was the culminating event of many things I did, experienced and thought about. Or if the book itself answered the question for me. Will probably never know!

        Every survivor deals with the why? question, hopefully, eventually making peace with it to move forward knowing like Susan alluded to that an important part of the puzzle is still missing.

  14. Mark, once again…thank you for looking at the why question and it’s value in ways I had not considered. (And I am smiling with delight :)at how you cleverly worded your opening question: “Doesn’t it depend on who is asking and WHY the person is asking?” So true…

    I think Thomas Joiner’s work provides a scientific analysis, examining suicide as would any other cancer, AIDS, or heart scientist/doctor/researcher in an attempt to know the “unknowable”. His objective is to provide a broad theoretical framework with which to view suicide in order to treat it.

    Hmmm, I want to know more about what ancient cultures knew about the mind, emotions, and the mind-body connection.

    Last, I wonder if anyone has looked at suicide by contrasting it with people with intense desires to live / survive …I don’t know…I would guess yes…

  15. That’s wonderful Esmeralda! It’s so important to incorporate meditation into early childhood education. A friend of mines son, who ended his suffering at the age of 19, began having suicidal thoughts at the age of 8. And my son, Kerry, said in his suicide note that he was “born suicidal.”

    For some, suicide is a sudden act. For others it is a haunting, never ending state of mind. And for others, it is both – an impulsive rage during a deep span of hopelessness.

    It is hard to understand the concept of suicide if you are not a survivor, or if you, yourself, have not suffered from suicidal thoughts. Prior to his death, the idea of Kerry – a bright, kind, sensitive, successful, loving being – ending his life, was unimaginable to me.

    My focus in Washington will simply be to put a face to suicide.

    I look forward to meeting you Esmeralda and RayofSunshine, Thank YOU!!! you are the perfect example of what I mean when I ask…

    Please take the time to reach out to those who may be suffering. To listen, validate, comfort, and be present with them. Allow them to be vulnerable, honest, and awake; and engage them with hope.

    • I have been wondering how to put it to Schumer, Gillibrand and Nita Lowey. I haven’t quite figured out how to say to them
      “You know, I think that yoga and meditation as part of the school curriculum….” But I will, one way or another, I will.
      By the way, Rayofsunshine is not coming, I think she is in Hawaii.
      My friend Elizabeth is coming.
      You just given me the idea of bringing pictures of Andrew with me.
      And now my friend, tell me what are you a perfect example of?
      You have been a support to me, did you know that? THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • 🙂

        Oh Esmeralda, I’m trying to listen, to be aware, to offer a smile or a kind word… somedays I do okay, other days…well, not so..

        yesterday, I had an early morning eye exam. It was hailing, and sleeting and snowing. I was 12 minutes late (honestly, I am often late). The receptionist greet me as a mother would greet a spoiled child who missed her curfew. “YOU’RE LATE” she scolded. I told her I was aware of this, and that my delay was due to the inclement weather. Then she handed me my punishment. She told me I would have to wait for AWHILE and that next time I should call if I know I’m going to be late. I looked at her, totally annoyed….took a deep breath – and reminded myself that this was about her, not me and I didn’t need to react to it. I smiled and told her that I thought it would be best if I rescheduled and that I’d give her a call. And then I left. I’m down to 3 days worth of disposable contacts…so it wasn’t the best move on my part. Regardless of what I told myself, I was clearly aggravated. I then drove to CVS drugstore and while I was in the check out line, I overheard the man next to me asked for directions to the bus stop. The cashier said she didn’t know and off he went. As he walked out the door I noticed he was carrying a plastic Greenwich Hospital bag. I thought about offering him a ride, after all, it was snowing and hailing and sleeting, but… he was a man, and he was wearing a hood and he looked sort of scary…(not really). I sat in my car for a moment…took a deep breath and asked myself, outloud, “what do I do” As soon as the words came out of my mouth I knew. I turned the corner just as he was heading down Greenwich Avenue. I pulled over and asked him if he’d like a ride. He was so grateful Esmeralda. Neither of us knew where the bus stop was so I took him to the train station. He told me he’d been on dialysis all week, that he was feeling very weak and how much the ride meant to him. We sat outside the train station for a few more minutes and I listened, with my whole heart. When he was done he thanked me and went on his way, this time with a smile. 🙂

        So…I’m guess you could say I’m becoming a perfect example of what it means to listen to your heart.

        much love to you Esmeralda 🙂

      • AND, the best part is, you know what the best part is don’t you? What a domino effect EVERYTHING has! What about the poor man if you hadn’t left the doctor’s office?
        Now, that is the kind of thing that I’ve done with Andrew and the other children in the car, and the feeling of well being that we all shared was WONDERFUL!
        Still, you better get back to your eye doctor, don’t you think? 🙂

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