Changing our wording.

I was out this morning and saw several magazines with Robin Williams on their covers. I’ve been wanting to write a bit about him ever since he passed away but it didn’t feel right until now.
Suicide and the way we look at it has been a topic of conversation a fair bit recently where I live. It started quite awhile ago due to a mother and father whose son completed a suicide. They have been trying to raise awareness for the needs of people in the mental health system.
There has also been some talk about the wording we use when it comes to this topic.
If someone dies from cancer, you often see “Died surrounded by his loving family after a courageous battle with cancer.” in his obituary.
Heart disease? “Died suddenly at home. Please donate to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.”
When someone dies due to a medical health reason, compassion is shown.
If that death is by suicide? Often no one will discuss it. It is very hush-hush.
I know of someone who’s brother died only months ago due to a completed suicide but the family refuses to admit to it. They say he died in his sleep. True but why was he sleeping so heavily?
Why? I think it is fear. Will they be looked down upon? Will people be critical? Could they or should they have done more, seen the signs, been able to prevent it? Sadly these are the questions raised by almost every story of suicide we hear.
People also blame the person themselves. He had children. Suicide is for cowards. He should have reached out for help. Why couldn’t he see that he had people who counted on him? Suicide is selfish. It’s the easy way out. He just gave up.
I know this topic very well. Not only was I suicidal for many years (decades), I’ve lost several others  to this potentially fatal disease of depression and PTSD.
Let me tell you now. They were not weak, selfish, uncaring, lacking love for their families or just taking the easy way out. They held on courageously for YEARS. They fought that black hole. They got out with friends. Two got therapy. They tried to be happy and grateful for their lives. In the end? Depression claimed them.
Shouldn’t their obituary have read “Died after a courageous battle with depression.” Donations should have poured in to crisis lines or mental health programs in their area? No?
I am not writing this to let suicidal people off the hook and make them feel it is okay to do. They know it’s not. I am writing this because when someone does? They deserve the same respect given to someone who died for any other reason. It’s no less tragic than a car accident, cancer, a stroke or any other disease.
The family also needs to be respected. Not asked if they knew this was coming or why didn’t their son/daughter/sister/brother/mother/father reach out for more help. The family deserves to be able to be honest without fearing peoples disdain.
I believe that if this begins to happen? People will start discussing it more freely and those with these thoughts inside their heads can feel more comfortable admitting it without fear of being looked down upon.
Rather than “Don’t think like that”, we can respond with “Thank you for so bravely letting me know how you are feeling. I’m here to help and I care what happens to you”.
That will lead them to getting more support, possibly accessing further treatment.
Like any other disease? Prevention is key  and the key to preventing suicide is compassion and support for all concerned.

13 responses to “Changing our wording.

  1. Well done Heather!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally agree with everything you have said here…another super post x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Absolutely spot on!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good post, Heather.

    By the way my blog got yanked last night by wordpress. I hope I can get the misunderstanding fixed, but my wife did some research and she’s afraid it could be a couple of weeks as long as they realize I didn’t violate their rules. I wish there was some way to let people know I’m trying to get back to wordpress.
    I don’t even know if you will get this comment. But I see my avatar and stuff, so I hope you’ll get this.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh no Sam! I hope you get it fixed soon!
    What rules are there?


    • Don’t link to ANYTHING that could be misconstrued as a way for you to make money. I was simply trying to link my “works cited” but my wife said wordpress AGRESSIVELY shuts down blogs that ‘redirect’ to other sites to make a person money. Anyway, if I can get them to view my latest post, they would see that was NOT my intention. If not, I may have to start a new blog. If so, I guess it gives me the chance to clean up my old stuff and organize things better. But it may mean I’m out of business for a little bit.


      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a great blog Heather. Even in 2014, suicide is still very much a taboo subject, talked about in shocked whispers and never mentioned to the grieving family. As you know, I come from rural Mid Wales where the suicide rate is disproportionately high when you consider the low population. Some people there say “it runs in families”, “they had a funny upbringing” or the most frequent “he spent too much time on his own”. All partially true, especially the latter – farming can be a lonely job. There is also very little support for anyone with depression. My own reason for not asking for help? I was terrified I would be sent to the “Mental Hospital” and locked-up. Even though that Hospital is long gone, my fear still remains.


  7. Oh Sam. I am so sorry for the bullcrap that you must deal with. I hope you get up and running very soon. If you end up with a new blog, be sure to let me know where you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, I’m so sorry that you lost 3 sisters and several other friends to depression, PTSD, and suicide. That in itself is traumatic. You’re really a courageous person! Thanks for writing so honestly about your life.


    • I really appreciate your words. Losing my sisters and others whom I’ve loved seems to bother me more now than when it happened. Writing about them helps. My courage is made possible at first by my own emerging strength but then it is boosted up and I want to continue because of the kindness I have been shown by people like yourself. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

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