Suicide Awareness Month - It's Not a Selfish Act
I’m grateful for the “awareness movement” because its brought attention to all the various causes out there. I looked at a list and there were a ton of them, too many to list. The two that matter most to me are Overdose Awareness (August) and Suicide Awareness (September). But in reality these need to be talked about all year long.
From what I’ve experienced, suicide is an extremely uncomfortable topic for most people. But it’s one of the leading causes of death - 44,000 people in the U.S. die each year. It’s the third leading cause of death for children between ages 10 and 14, and the second leading cause of death for people between 15 and 34. This is the youth of our society! I’ve mentioned before that I belong to a group for parents that have lost a child to suicide and I am shocked every time it’s a child 15 or under. I can’t get used to it. Bullying is the reason for many of the younger deaths.
The first time someone commented to me that suicide was selfish was just hours after Keven’s death. It came from a guy with the Coroner’s office. He wasn’t the lead coroner, but he was assisting her. I kind of remember saying “no it’s not”, or maybe I just thought it and looked away. It both ticked me off and put me on the defensive. I had no emotional energy to defend my son on that day, but now I do.
Here is what I’d say to that guy today, and to anyone else who thinks suicide is selfish or cowardly. I’m speaking based on everything Keven told me over the years and based on some research, I read a lot of articles written by survivors of suicide sharing what was going on in their head at the time they made their attempt:
It’s not selfish from the person’s perspective because even though they know people will be hurt by it, they sincerely believe that everyone they know will be better off without the burden of their existence and that they will move on with their lives. Keven told me time and time again that I would be better off without him. This always led to me fiercely deny such a thing and tell him I couldn’t live without him. (the first chapter of my book will talk about this).
The person contemplating suicide sees it as the only solution to their problem. They’ve tried everything they know of to get beyond the hopelessness, but nothing (not even drugs) could lift them out of that pit.
Most of us haven’t been in such a dark place as someone who ends their suffering by ending their life. I know Keven was tortured by feelings of unworthiness, loneliness, being misunderstood and judged, depression and anxiety. He heard voices in his head telling him these things and telling him to “just do it”. He fought those voices for years. There were nights when he lied next to me in my bed all night because he was afraid if he was alone he’d “do it”. Seeing him like that, shaking and scared, hurt almost as much as it hurt losing him. It’s hard for some to imagine how dark one’s own mind can get.
I’ve decided that Keven would want me to share some of his poetry publicly. He and Anthony both wanted me to write about them to enlighten others - but the message was supposed to be one of hope, their recovery stories, not one of death. So here are just a few of the many poems Keven wrote over the years.
You may wonder why the heck I share these - for the same reason I am writing my book, to make people aware of the suffering out there so we can all be on the lookout for those that need our love, support, acceptance and validation.
(Trigger warning - these are very dark. Please don’t read if you suffer from deep depression).
Looking for Solace
I run through the darkest recesses of my mind
Looking for something I can not find
Something I don’t know what it is,
But I know it’s my escape from this ugly haunted place
My mind races as I look, but all I see are empty pages of a book
The place I am at is completely black
And makes pleasant thoughts turn to ash
So I turn back and look again
But there’s nothing but oblivion
One is All You Need
One round in the chamber
Now one in my head
I’m sure they’ll find me
Bleeding out the head
Let’s see how many attempts there are
Before we see success,
Remember, it only takes once
For the rope to snap your neck
Does money make you happy?
Actually, I wouldn’t know
Cause if I ever had any
I’d spend it all on dope
Can’t find what you’re looking for
I can surely understand
Cause I can’t seem to find
This vein in my hand
I am nothing to this world
Just an empty hole immersed
The books I read
The shows I watched
To my soul, they cannot touch
The windows are glazed
From where I stand,
To everyone, I cry in despair,
I am nothing
I am zero
Short and Sweet
Around me the world turns
As I slowly burn
The pain does not subside
I should give up and die