Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Decision

A few days ago, I learned that someone from my past had committed suicide.

Absorbing such news is difficult to say the least, evoking a flood of somewhat predictable emotions. Shock. Disbelief. Sadness. Confusion. Others who have received similar news may have reacted differently depending upon their relationship with the deceased individual, their own age at the time and various other circumstances.

First of all, suicide is a great waste. A life has been lost. Homicide at the hands of another individual is a horrible crime. But suicide is even more atrocious because the victim had a choice in the matter and the final decision might have been avoided entirely.

This recent occurrence was not the first time my life was touched by suicide. But each event has resulted in deep feelings of hopelessness and frustration. Although none of the victims was a relative, the lingering emotions are nevertheless intense and overwhelming.

I cannot imagine how a suicide impacts the family members left behind. Their pain must be horrific. Not only are they reeling from an unexpected death of a loved one, but they are faced almost immediately with the practical issues of funeral arrangements while being inundated by expressions of sympathy from well-meaning folks who have no idea what to say at such an occasion.

Suicide is sadder on another level because friends and acquaintances of the deceased are left wondering whether there had been a sign, some indication of what was about to occur and perhaps no one was paying close enough attention.

It's sad to think that while we are going about our daily routine, someone is in such a state of deep unhappiness or fear or desperation that they are contemplating ending their own life. It is a tragedy that begins as a thought and spins out of control until it cannot be controlled.

How pathetic that we appear to care so little for each other. We tend to think about only those things which touch us directly. Tragedy has a way of punching us in the gut to get our attention. Whether it is in the form of a devastating tsunami, destruction of the World Trade Center or life-altering Hurricane Katrina, tragedy demands our attention, even if only temporarily.

Group tragedies get fundraising and media attention. Personal tragedy is hushed and lonely.

It is important to pause and recall the memory of suicide victims or victims of any tragedy. They deserve to be honored and respected in death even if they were overlooked in life. We need to pay more attention to others and to consider their suffering.

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