If You Are Feeling Suicidal Or Want To Talk Please Call The National Lifeline
I look forward to reading my emails at the start of the day, it still amazes me that one can communicate by typing something, then clicking send.
I’ve long since wondered though, if in the very immediacy and ease of the communication, is simultaneously a problem.
I myself have sent some pretty dumb emails, knowing as I clicked send, that I shouldn’t have done that.
That is not to say that one would not write the same dumb thing in a letter, but, having to wait to get a stamp, or put it in the letter box in the morning, is often all it takes to retrieve the letter, tear it up and put it in the rubbish where it belongs.
Reflection, time, distance, quiet, are precious and often unrecognized and unappreciated life-enhancing and life-saving commodities.
Look, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy ordering a book on Amazon and getting it delivered to the door as much as anybody else. I see the seeming advantages. Yes seeming! We’ve become very good at clicking buttons left right and center, but we’ve done so at the heavy cost of human interaction.
Suicide rates in the last few decades have gone up, not down. Could the rhythm of our highly efficient but hectic and impersonal life have something to do with it?
I think that it probably does. Like with the difference between emails and letters, time and human contact are often all it takes for a person in a suicidal crisis, to overcome the moment. That dangerous moment overcome, and a whole world full of life opens up again.
At one thirty in the morning my son was texting a friend asking him if he wanted to go with him to Pommes Frites, three hours later, it was over. Andrew had taken his life, he had killed himself.
Would things have been different had his friend said yes instead of no? Would his friend have said no, had he received a phone a call and heard his friend’s voice instead of glancing over a message on his cell phone?
And please, don’t even think that I blame that boy, because I don’t . Of course it is only natural that as part of the thousands of what ifs, I include: “what if his friend had said yes instead of no?”
But then I include myself in the what ifs; what if I had asked him more questions? What if I had asked him why he sounded quiet the last time I spoke to him, two days before he died?
I was even in the City on Monday afternoon, the day before he died. Hugh had been showing an apartment on the upper east side, and when he came out he wondered if we should go and see the children.
But I knew that Mondays were one of Andrew’s busiest days class-wise, also, I was feeling tired, and it was close to the time when Robert would be coming home from school. So, I said no.
Only two days earlier Andrew had asked me to buy him a pair of soft leather gloves:
“It’s getting chilly,” he’d said.
“What size?” I”d asked him.
“Extra large please.”
I was already at Syms when he asked me over the phone, and I got him a pair. When I went to pay however, the line was so ridiculously long, that I just put them back and left. “I’ll get them during the week,” I told myself. “Or I’ll give him the money and he can buy them himself.”
What if I had bought him the gloves and I‘d said “yes, let’s go and see the children?”
All that goes through my mind a million times.
But the thing that gets me the most, is that for him to have been able to get to the 10th floor of Bobst, NYU’s library, there must have been a breach of security. But for you to understand what I mean, you’d have to be familiar with the premises.
The lack of sufficient security failed him, and I hold NYU responsible because, had he not been able to gain unimpeded access to the 10th floor, he would not have been able to do it!
At the cost of repeating myself, when it comes to suicide, time and opportunity have the power to make the difference between life and death.
What got me thinking in this direction this morning, was an email by a friend. The email alerted me to the death by suicide, of Peter Lopez, husband of actress Catherine Bach. Lopez was a successful entertainment attorney and his clients had included Michael Jackson.
In the photo of him and his wife that accompanies the news, he looks the picture of health and contentment.
May he rest in peace, and may his wife and children have all the help and support they’ll need on the difficult journey ahead of them.