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This is a descriptive post about a family members suicide and suicidal thoughts that run in my family If you are squeamish or have trigger problems stop now!
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In reading an article on flipboard yesterday I was devastated to read of a twenty eight year old preacher's son that committed suicide. I do not know this preacher or his written works. I had never met his son and yet I was devastated Sounds odd, I know. His son committed suicide, it was reported, because he could no longer deal with his mental illness. It was vague on exactly what this poor man suffered from except to say maybe depression.
There is a failure in the system. Not just here in America but everywhere around the world. There is a failure not only in how we treat mental illness but also in how we view those that suffer from it. For every famous person that has a relative or they themselves that commit suicide there are many more that do it unnoticed by the media. I can't help but feel like we have failed these people somehow. It tears me up to see that people so young are feeling this lost and feel they have no other option but to end it. I am frustrated that I have no idea how to help them.
We live in a world where most psychiatrist's offer a slew of medications and send you on your way.It can be confusing on which ones to choose. Many of them are not totally sure of your ailment but are willing to throw medicine at it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. Therapists are also a great tool but you have to find one that your insurance covers and one that not only makes you comfortable but also knows about your specific mental illness. There are hotlines to call which is a terrific thing. There are hospitals to go to if you feel like harming yourself. There are blogs and websites to get information and support. There are books on how to get help. Still some of these people fall through the cracks and it makes me sick to my stomach. These people are good people. These people are members of the mental illness community. These people are us.
It bothers me on such a deep level because I have suicide and suicidal tendencies in my family.
My great uncle was by all reports a terrific man. He was kind and had a way with the ladies. He was funny and worked hard all of his life. He bought my grandma her favorite candies and taught her to ride a bike. He was her favorite uncle. He was a real person with emotions, memories, and faults. We really have no idea why he did it. There is speculation that he was ill and the doctors could find nothing wrong with him. There was no mention of mental illness but most likely my family would not have admitted or even talked about such things at that time. One day he decided to end it all. He went into his trailer, laid on a quilt my great grandmother had made for him, took a shotgun and blew his brains out. It was 1982 and he was sixty nine years old. I was three. I have only one vague fuzzy memory of him smiling at me. That quilt was washed and pressed and given to my mother because it meant so much to him that no one had the heart to throw it away. It was later used as my blanket growing up as a child. Seems a little creepy but it was a beautiful quilt. We kept it until it started to fall apart and later burned in the fire that engulfed our shed. It was never hidden from me that he killed himself. We all admitted it but in hushed tones and with heavy hearts. There were not as many tests and mental health information like there is now, so maybe he could have been helped. We will never know the answer to that question. What we do know is that he suffered. That he shot himself while my great grandparents were mowing the lawn. That he left no note. That my great grandfather had to break in and find his younger brother's dead body. That my great grandmother had to clean his blood and brains off the floor. That it was not romantic or beautiful. It was an ugly end to an amazingly beautiful man. That it scarred them in ways I can not imagine and that it in turn scarred the rest of us. Suicide is sometimes described with beautiful imagery or memes of stick figures shooting themselves. There are memes that jokingly say if you have this tattoo or have done this kill yourself. A fact I find highly disturbing There are many ways to do it but they are all ugly, and all terribly sad. I ache for him and my great grandparents. There was no real help and they suffered needlessly. These are the kind of memories that you can not block out or wash away. These stick with you for the rest of your life.
My mother attempted suicide when I was nine or ten. Thankfully the bottle of pills she took were not the kind that could kill you and after pumping her stomach she got the help that she needed. She suffers from mental illness as well. She has PTSD, bipolar, and clinical depression.
And then there is me. Years before I had my children or met my current husband I was suicidal. I thought about it constantly. I was in the planning stages of how to figure it out. How I could do it the best and easiest way. Thankfully my OCD did me a favor for which I am so very great full It would not let me find a plan that worked. It was against anything messy or painful. It reminded me of my clumsiness and how I might not do it correctly and end up suffering even more for the rest of my life. It then showed me images of my family having to find my body and what it would do to them. That I would scar them like my great uncle scarred my great grandparents. I couldn't do it. I went and got the help I so dearly needed. I am no longer suicidal and have not been for many years.
I can't help but feel we are missing something. That we are failing these people somehow. I am not sure how to fix it. I know that people tend to roll their eyes and judge people that say they want to die or they want to kill themselves. People tend to think that these people are just saying that because they want attention. Do you really want to take that chance? Suicide is a very real thing. It is a very scary thing and unfortunately it is something that some people do. It has to stop. I know we can get better. I know that we can get help. We can. The real pain of suicide is not just the fact that you lose someone you love. It is that they chose to leave you, willingly. The pain, sorrow, and anger that follows. And there is so much anger. The devastation that is left behind and the questions. Always the questions, that sadly there is no answers to.The pain of going on without them and all the things in your life that you can no longer share with them. There is nothing romantic or amusing about suicide. There is only pain. My heart aches for the families that have gone through this. My heart aches for the people that feel suicidal. My heart aches for my family and what they have gone through.
If you know someone that is talking about suicide, please get them help. Please do not ignore their pleas. Call someone. Take them to the hospital. Call the hotlines and reach out. Be there for them and be there to get them the help that they need.
There are many sites that offer help. Please check out the ones in your area or country for more information.
Here is just one useful site that might offer some help:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.