This has been a tough one to write…..
I lost my big brother Bill in the spring of 2014. Bill was educated, athletic, and highly respected amongst his peers. He was the oldest of us four, 3 boys and me. Bill was a 57 year old father, of my two beautiful nieces. Bill passed away suddenly…. He took his own life, by putting it that way, it some how eludes to the possibility that he took control of his life.
Committed suicide sounds like an act of violence? So there it begins for us so-called “survivors”. I am using the term survivors to refer to all the people connected and left behind. We can’t even get our heads around what to tell people let alone begin to unravel the endless cycle of unanswered questions, regrets, blame,and sadness. Add to that the fact that I am a Registered Nurse who received an award in psychiatric nursing…and I lay it on myself yet a little thicker.
So I can hear my empathetic nursing friends now…”it is not your fault, it was his choice, he is responsible” words I have told other people myself, and words I do believe, at least at a rational head level. If only humans could keep emotions that black and white. I have always believed we need to talk more about depression. To make it acceptable to ask for help when we are struggling.
I wish Bill would of reached out to one of this family or friends….perhaps the outcome would have been different? I keep imagining Bill in that moment, in such a dark place that the only answer he saw was to end his life. Not the competitive man I knew. Perhaps competitive spirit is a trait that only works when a person is competing against someone else, a time clock, a goal, and not when you are trying to run away from yourself?? I see it as running away, leaving behind….maybe in those last moments Bill felt he was running towards something? As one of the people he left behind I can not seem to stop playing that scene over and over. In my rendition however Bill does not die…..then reality hits again. I have spent so much time remembering how he died, I now need to remember how he lived. To lose precious memories only doubles the loss. One single act does not define a person’s life. All catch phrases I repeat to myself to try and make some sense of things.
We have to move on. Life goes on. A new normal. Normal- now there’s a word that does not apply to a family who’s family member commits suicide….we are left to piece together a puzzle with so many missing pieces we will never see the complete picture.
Sadly when I talk about my brother’s suicide. More often than not, I am told a story back about someone they knew who also had committed suicide….there seems to be a kinship silence among us, it can only be spoken about to people who have experienced it….I read somewhere ” for Survivors of Suicide “s” also stands for stigma, shame and silence” We need to change this, start talking and focus on prevention.
Did you know?
- Over 800,000 people die by suicide every year across the globe (2014 World Health Organization report on suicide prevention)
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death globally among 15-29 year olds (2014 World Health Organization report on suicide prevention)
- Approximately 11 people will end their lives by suicide today in Canada and four out of five people who die by suicide made at least one previous attempt(Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention,2014)
- Suicide occurs across all age, economic,social and ethnic boundaries(Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention,2014)
Would love to hear your comments. Ask me questions. Who knows together we may save some family from being touched by suicide.
“Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s light shining somewhere nearby”
Ruth E. Renkel
Yours in Nursing,