We were invited to a significant wedding anniversary of a couple. Their son got up to speak about his parents and something he said didn’t seem true: ‘My parents are a very loving couple. They never said a cross word to each other.”
When his father got up to speak, he talked about all the accomplishments of his son and two of his daughters. He never mentioned the names of his other two daughters – one who was present and mentally ill and the other who committed suicide a few years back. It was as if they had never existed.
It was then I realized that not only was there never a cross word, there were perhaps no words at all in that family. How could they completely ignore the existence of two of their children? Who would speak of them? Who would speak for them?
But I should not have been surprised. Stigma and silence often keep individuals and families from reaching out for professional help.
Today, September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day. This year’s theme is: Stigma: A barrier to suicide prevention.
In the last few months, there has been a spate of celebrity suicides – young musicians, models and actors taking their own lives. In India, I keep reading of young people taking their lives for, what might seem to us, very trivial reasons. One particular case that stands out for me is the 11 year old Bangalore-based girl hanged when her brother didn’t allow her to watch the channel of her choice. Perhaps years of being the victim of her brother’s bullying led to this?
“Suicide is a cry for life, not death. The person is not running towards death but trying to escape the pain of their life.” ~ Karen Letofsky
The reasons for suicide and suicide ideation are many. But underlying them all is various degrees of mental illness and depression that have not been identified and/or treated. The stigma that surrounds mental illness runs deep. We try to wish it away. But sadly it just gets worse until you or a loved one are pushed to the brink. Something snaps. Someone takes their life. But the pain continues. Survivors’ grief. Families devastated. Guilt, hurt, and mind-numbing pain. The cycle continues……
The only way to break out of it is to : Be Informed. Share. Talk. Listen. Reach Out. Embrace Survivors. Support.
Here’s a Directory of Suicide Hotlines. Please share.
Read all the great posts on this topic from bloggers around the world here.
USC’s MSW Programs Blog Day.
- Stigma : A Barrier to Suicide Prevention (shilpaagarg.com)
- World Suicide Prevention Day: Removing stigma around suicide is key to helping people (lfpress.com)
- I beg you, Ma, I never wanted to die (takeawalkinthewoods.wordpress.com)