Some people like to say that everything happens for a reason, but when it comes to suicide attempts, that line of thinking suggests some lives are more valuable than others. That some people are more deserving of life than others. But there is no “reason” to mental illness and suicide. Life, death and the trappings that come in between are not doled out based on who deserves what.
I am honored to introduce Andolina as this month’s Parenting with Mental Illness interviewee. She’s a beautiful young mother who lives with Major Depressive Disorder and moderate anxiety. She also lost her father to suicide. I can only imagine what that kind of loss is like, and I thank her for her sharing her story here on Betty’s Battleground. It breaks my heart to hear about yet another woman whose birthday has been ruined possibly forever–this time by a tragic loss.
A person recently left a very interesting comment on my blog post about forgiving our loved ones who commit suicide. She (I’m actually not sure of the person’s gender, but am using “she” for the sake of clarity) noted that she had lost her spouse to suicide several years back. Then she asked me to re-write my post to exclude the term “commit suicide.” She informed me that there is now a movement to have people say “died by suicide” rather than “commit suicide,” due to negative connotations associated with the word commit, and the idea that suicide is an act for which the victim is not culpable.
I’m familiar with these kinds of language movements. There’s one also in place around the word “addict,” for which I’ve had several losing battles with editors on the titles and language within certain of my articles. My problem here is that I’m not sure I agree. I don’t agree that the word commit is inherently negative, nor do I agree that people who attempt suicide have no volition whatsoever. They’re ill, usually, but if we say they have no power, that can be dangerous to people struggling with suicidal ideations. Is our commitment stronger to the living, or the deceased? I do believe we should respect and honor those who lost their lives to suicide. I do believe in awareness. I don’t know how I stand on the language. Will you leave your thoughts in the comments?
Suicide recently came into the public consciousness because of the death by hanging of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington. Whenever I hear about someone dying from hanging, I think about this kindhearted, sweet as hell, alcoholic teenage gutter punk I knew who hanged himself. The last time I saw him, I was in a van going to the Oregon Country Fair. I saw him walking outside on the side of the road. We lived in Seattle so this wasn’t expected. I considered asking the driver to stop so I could say hi to my friend, but then I figured–and I remember this thought so clearly–“Oh well, it’s okay, I’ll see him again.” I didn’t.
We never know when we will lose the people we love. Whether by suicide or something else, our lives are these tenuous, crazy things that can be shattered without a moment’s notice. We need to better appreciate the people in our lives, but we also need to forgive those who leave us on purpose. I’ve written this post to help you understand why you should let go of the anger you feel at your loved one who committed suicide, even though that anger is totally justified.