There’s a reason newspapers don’t report the details of suicides.
It is irrational, superstitious, bizarre, but also one hundred percent completely true.
Suicide is contagious.
Like cooties. But lethal.
The hard to accept truth is that when suicides have been reported in papers or television, the suicide rates go up. Just hearing about someone else doing it, increases the chances of a near suicidal person of giving it a go.
There is an association devoted to research and education regarding suicide. It may have a rather clunky name, but it is well worth taking a look at: www.suicidology.org
Research has been around for years about how quickly suicide rates go down when you remove the relative ease at which one can make an attempt. This research article describes how in Great Britain suicide rates went down (starting in the late 50’s) just because the government changed the kind of gas that was used in every British kitchen oven. After this one change, you couldn’t just turn on the gas and go out ala Sylvia Plath anymore.
Writers and suicide: 0 and 1.
People with a family history of suicide can have higher rates of suicide. Most people can recall Ernest Hemingway shot himself, but not as well known is that Hemingway’s father also committed suicide, as did two uncles, an aunt and his granddaughter.
The answer to why this occurs is because that particular door has now been opened. The before unconsidered option is now placed in front of the remaining relatives and friends. If it was okay for my dad, my brother and my sister, I guess it is okay for me too. That is the terrible legacy suicide leaves for the survivors.
Writers and suicide: 0 and 2.
So, yeah, I am still thinking about suicide a lot. And my client.
I want to surround myself with facts and figures and just the right anecdote in order to not feel so bad about what I do. But I hate that impulse because I imagine what the family is going through. My dilemma feels ridiculous when compared to what they are experiencing.
All that is left to do is to keep writing.
My next door neighbor told me the other day I have looked different for the past few months. So, that’s great. You can see it on my face. I don’t like that at all.
It’s bothering the hell out of me, to be honest.
I remember a news story from earlier this year where a broke, hopeless Greek man shot himself on the steps of parliament to protest the austerity measures the government had enacted. Suicide rates had already been on the rise in Greece, as well as nearly everywhere else. He became a symbol to the people of what the entire country was facing: an unavoidable downturn in prosperity and hope.
Feeling hopeless is a key indicator and danger sign to suicidal behavior. There is a lot of that going around these days—whatever country you happen to live in—and very few people willing to speak clearly about it. For us to make it, I mean really make it out of here in one piece—or make the world an actually good place to live—we have to learn to talk about how we feel—no matter what that is.
Not that it is easy.
It’s painful and it bothers the hell out of me.
It should bother the hell out of you too.