Monday, November 16, 2009

The Sense of Suicide

Early this year, a friend of mine confided in me that her father had tried to commit suicide. She confided in me because she was afraid that others might judge her, might look down on her in some way. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it, the thought that anyone would think less of her because he was in too much pain or too angry or impossibly desperate or simply beyond hope to hold on for another day. On Saturday, my best friend from junior/high school emailed me to tell me that her brother had committed suicide the day before. I didn’t read the email until Sunday and since then I have been trying to make sense of this, somehow. But how? In August my mother’s friend ended his years of struggling with depression by killing himself. I didn’t know what to say to my mother and did a google search.

condolence suicide “sympathy card”

When the answer came up with hundreds of links, I thought, “Some things should not be found.” The fact that I found anything, let alone hundreds of things, meant that the need to find the right words to ease someone’s grief through a loss by suicide was not something so rare, so unheard of, that there were no answers for the question . . . What do you say to the survivors? It is too obvious to say that there are no words that will bring peace in a situation like this. I can only imagine the rapacious questions that are tearing through my friend right now, the same ones with which my mother probably flagellated herself.
  • What could I have done?
  • What should I have said?
  • Was there anything I could have done and said to change this?
  • If I could, what would I do differently?
  • How can I go back and make this not be happening?
  • Did I say I love you while I had the chance?
  • Did I say it clearly enough, loudly enough, often enough?
  • How many hours of tears will I cry before I can breathe again?
  • Will I ever forgive myself for this?
Or maybe these are not the questions that are asked. Maybe there is too much pain for questions. Is there a point where one becomes so saturated with suffering that all questions, all sorrow, finally falls away? I’m tired of this year, of ten deaths and incurable diseases. I’m tired of trying to make sense of something that makes no sense, of asking questions that have no answers, of asking questions that should never need to be asked.


  1. Strange that I find myself on the other side of the this. Sort of. I usually see what happens when suicide fails or suicidal gestures.

  2. I have to wonder, which is worse . . . living with the loss or the person living and having to live with the fear of loss. It's hard to know. Two suicides in six weeks . . . too many people I love are hurting too much.