Wednesday, August 13, 2014

On Suicide

A character in the first book of Between Families faces suicide. The scenes and descriptions are somewhat autobiographical and based on when I was 17 and attempted suicide. There has never been something so important to have failed at. I literally have never learned more from a failure than from that one.

That said, I know how I felt at the time and it was such a deep and profound vacuum of sadness that did not allow a single moment of joy in. Each moment was interminable, keen and cruel, and it was impossible to tolerate time. Suicide sounded like a relief from that endless black pit that swallowed up my everything. My depression was situational, not chronic. I have never experienced another bout like it. I was young and didn't have the same concept of time then that I do now. I didn't know how to hold on and wait and that things would get better. I just didn't know.

But I am fortunate in that the depression I experienced was due to things going on in my life. It was situational. I do not have chemical imbalances that make depression an ongoing struggle. I do not know that repetitive cycle of pain and hopelessness.

I don't know what it was to be Robin Williams or the other couple of folks I've known who have been successful at suicide. I imagine if they felt the way I did, much less many times over, or in greater depths of darkness, or with neural pathways permanently damaged by substances, unable to feel joy in a profound way, I hope their suffering from that is over. Surviving that feeling for any period of time is brave. Do not call those who attempt or commit suicide, cowards. They are surviving through insurmountable challenges and the fact they try at all, is a testament to the human spirit. They survived and managed to touch your heart despite a depth of darkness plaguing them that we cannot imagine. They deserve respite from that and respect for trying even if they helped entropy along before the rest of us were ready for it. I wish for no more successes in the nasty business of suicide; I hope you will tell me if you feel the pull of darkness. I hope respite can be found through other means. But my opinion on your sadness is not helpful. My heart is. I hope my prayers are. More than anything, you have my compassion.