I find it infinitely tragic that the most in-depth conversations about suicide occur mainly during the month of September or when a public figure completes the act. It is time for a in depth conversation on mental illness and how it destroys so many people’s lives.
The month of September is known internationally as Suicide Awareness Month. In turn, September 10th is observed as Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day. However, the act of suicide deserves more than a month or a day long conversation.
With the April 30 death by suicide of Singer-Actress, Naomi Judd, the topic became public fodder among both the truly sensitive and the Info-Vultures of the world media. Naomi Judd was always honest about her struggles with mental illness and was an eloquent spokesperson for Mental Health Awareness throughout her life.
In the wake of her death, I personally related to some of the language used by her daughters, Ashley and Wynonna, as an explanation for their Mother’s death. They stated, in the immediate aftermath of their Mother’s passing: “Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful Mother to the disease of mental illness,” they said. “We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief…..We are in unknown territory.”
I understand the Judd sister’s statements far too well. My Father was a murder victim in a Murder-Suicide in December 1965. Almost thirty-one years later, my brother George, after years of mental health struggles, completed the act of Suicide in September 1996. He accomplished this in a hotel room two blocks away from the site of my Father’s murder.
I wrote about my family tragedies extensively in the September 2016 Politichicks article, “Surviving Suicide-A Personal Journey.” Additionally, I addressed some of my unresolved issues with my brother’s suicide in the September 2020 Politichicks article, “An Open Letter to My Brother George, 23 Years Deceased.”
Writing about my own brother’s suicide has helped me come to terms with his actions. Articulating heartbreak in the context of the written, sung or spoken word often helps the troubled soul. That can be a part of the end process to acceptance. It took me several decades before I was able to write about his suicide. The carnage caused by a loved one’s suicide can be overcome with passing time. No matter what, it is a long road to reach any sort of real understanding of why a loved one completes the act of suicide.
The term “Completing the act of Suicide,” is used within the ranks of Suicide Survivors Groups. I always
have thought it to be a relatively healthy sentence. Most Suicide victims, like my brother and others I have known, spend many decades suffering in the darkness. Many attempts were made by my brother before he too; “Completed the act.”
In the midst of our shared, alleged viral crisis, the rate of suicide among the young and our veteran population has increased dramatically. I understand the adult struggle with depression. But it breaks my heart when a child or an adolescent falls into this darkness. Equally heartbreaking is the increased rate of suicide among our Military Service Personnel. The media cliché of “22 vets a day” remains in many states of our country an underestimated count of the actual numbers.
Mental Health awareness remains relegated to the dark recesses of our collective closet. That must change. As we fight a war for the soul of our country, so we should fight an equally dedicated war for the sanity and mental health of our citizens. As I have written before, to those considering suicide, please, please, seek some help. You will never know how important you are to your individual communities.
For those experiencing the suicide of a family member, friend or spouse; You should also consider seeking counseling or consider attending a meeting for a Suicide Survivors group. There is solace in a shared sadness. We can “white knuckle” our way through bad pop culture or even worst politics; But should never be afraid to ask for help when facing a possibly fatal darkness. Only God knows why someone takes their own life. It has been my relationship with God that has helped me to heal and to accept my brother’s suicide.
1O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the
rulers of the darkness of this world, against wickedness in high places.