Thursday, May 17, 2012


I know - this topic is a departure for me but it's been sitting in the back of my mind, pushing its way forward.  I've been thinking about putting my thoughts regarding suicide in my blog for a long time and this morning I
woke up to the news that Bobby Kennedy Jr.'s wife, mother of four, has died by suicide.  I guess that was my cue.
It's difficult to write about suicide because it has touched me personally - more than once. 
Two very good friends died by suicide; one with a terminal disease and the other suffered terribly with mental illness. 
The saddest death was a young family member.  Another victim of mental illness.
I understand wanting to die.  It has never crossed my mind but I understand it.  I don't condemn anyone who takes that action.  My heart breaks for the feelings of hopelessness they must endure.
I've always supported physician assisted suicide.  Alas, we don't have that option here in Michigan so people are forced to break the law.  It becomes some kind of covert operation.  Doesn't seem fair.
In my capacity as a hospice volunteer in bereavement I listened to a grieving mother talk about her son's death by suicide.  Her heart was broken and her voice was full of tears.  She said something that was very thought provoking and it has stayed with me since.  The term "committed suicide" comes from the fact that it was considered a crime many years ago.  A crime?  Really?  How do you punish someone who has "committed" suicide? 
I've tried to not use the term but it's difficult - we're so used to saying it.  "Took his/her own life."  "Died by his/her own hand."  "Suicided."  That one pops up on spell check because it's not a real word.  I will continue, however, to leave "committed" out.
My family member was a gentle soul.  When I think of her as a little girl, I think of a tiny bird.  As she became an adult, she was still a tiny bird - almost fragile.  Her smile wasn't tiny, though.  It was big and beautiful and reached her eyes.  We just didn't see it very often.  We watched the ups and downs and hoped for brighter days every time life looked good.  There were so many downs, though.  Too many.
I hope to never see the face of a former student on the news because she walked into the swampy forest and never came out.  I hope to never hear of an elderly family friend who disappeared into a local lake leaving his dog at the water's edge - waiting.  I hope.
I've heard many people refer to suicide as selfish.  I don't agree.  I've heard others say it is the coward's way out.  Bullshit.  It is a way to end the pain and anguish.  A desperate way.  A sad way but their way.


  1. I agree with you, Ellen. Anyone who "chooses" to take her own life is obviously not well--whether mentally or physically. The desire to live is so strong in normal, healthy people. It is a final act of desperation...not an act of selfishness.