It’s been two years to the day that the man I loved ended his life; an odd anniversary of sorts and there is still so much to say and so much that I’ve already said. I feel, sometimes, that I’m endlessly repeating myself.
So, I’ll be somewhat brief.
If you’ve known someone or loved someone who has experience with losing a person to suicide, or intimately understand what it’s like because you’ve been through it…
Be gentle. Be kind and be empathetic to those that have survived and yourself if you, like me, have learned to live with it.
You see, that’s all you can do; live with it. You don’t get over it and you don’t forget about it just because it's behind you. You live with the stigma of suicide around you, every day.
I’m not a grief counselor but I will become an educator. This happens so much more often than I was ever aware of and I’m guessing most people are not aware of the staggering statistics.
Why? Because we, as a society, sweep it under the carpet. It’s a dirty little secret and we talk in hushed, whispered tones, quickly looking around to make sure we are not overheard.
“Did you hear? He killed himself…”
Then, everyone not involved, goes about their daily life and tries not to think about it. Yup. We typically don’t reach out to the survivors, we don’t try and understand mental illness; we try and forget about it if it didn’t concern ourselves directly.
Before Brian, I’d never had any experience with suicide, suicide grief or had known anyone close to me who’d chosen to leave the world by their own hand. So, I can’t say that I was any different, or any more compassionate. Honestly, I can’t remember if the topic ever came up.
My point is that it’s not a fault of the individual; it’s the fault of our culture and the lack of education and understanding.
So I will become one of the educators because I really need to. I need people to understand that you can’t get over it. It lives with you, daily. It becomes a part of you and rather than reject it, I choose to embrace it.
I choose to take this experience and make something positive out of it.
Brian’s life mattered. ALL lives matter, no matter what our exit strategy is out of this world.
So please, don’t pretend it doesn’t happen. Don’t avoid the topic or whisper about it.
YELL IT OUT.
Everyone needs to know and learn about mental illness and how to help those that are suffering.
Because it can kill.
Just like cancer.
Just like any other disease known to humans.
It’s time to make this a priority and stop pretending it’s not a massive problem.
Suicide is a major cause of premature and preventable deaths.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for people of all ages.
In 2009, it ranked as the ninth leading cause of death in Canada. Among those aged 15 to 34, suicide was the second leading cause of death, preceded only by accidents (unintentional injuries).