The Shame of Suicide That Needs to Change….

I have found out the hard way about the shame that accompanies the grief of suicide death. Because suicide is an act upon ones self it appears to have “failure” written all over it….or “mortal sin” if you are profoundly religious and judgmental. After the initial shock of being told my son died this way, I found myself suddenly feeling guilty. GUILTY? GUILTY! I struggled with assuming that the local population that knew of my son’s death, ruled as a suicide by Barney Fife and the Keystone Cops (translation: Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Dept), would say we were not good parents, that we should have known, that we could have done something, that he wasn’t loved enough, that he must have been abused as a child. All these horrible things came to mind and fought my inner soul night and day. There is no hell that hurts this badly. There is no punishment that could be more punishing than to have your sweet, wonderful,  much loved, child taken away by suicide…depression, mental illness….or murder….self-murder? Either way…he is gone from us and we are left to never really know except that it has been established by those who think they know that this is how it ended for Brandon.

What I find troubling in this modern culture with Dark Age minds, the hesitancy for those left behind to admit and accept the word “suicide.” I often felt, in the beginning, that I should be chained in a stockade with the letter “S” emblazoned on my forehead. For Shame, for shame….you are the residue of a family that has been born under a dark curse. YOU are a failure as a mother. YOU did something to cause this. YOU didn’t do anything and so this happened. All of these self-accusations that I was certain others thought or whispered behind my back. All the while that I felt and thought these things, my soul was being torn apart. Spiritual Warfare. THAT is exactly what was going on. I can’t adequately describe what that feels like. It is a torture like no other. As a Christian, I recognized this almost from the very beginning. I bought many books on the subject of suicide and books that would help me to come to terms, spiritually, with the “sin” of it all. One book that was especially good for me was “Spiritual Warfare in a Believer’s Life” by Charles H. Spurgeon…one of my favorite pastors of yore. His words have reached many during his lifetime, into this century and years to come. He also suffered from deep depression.

I prayed fervently that God would send me peace. He did not delay although the grief continues to this day, I am not agonizing over the whereabouts of my son’s soul. He is with God no matter what another human may think. The act of suicide is not a judgment on his soul no more than a white lie or adultery, or alcoholism which has now been deemed a disease not a sin by some….you name the sin. Jesus’s blood has not been diluted by the sins that mankind has placed in an order of bad to worse. On a scale of zero to ten, which frowny face is the worst sin? Any sin…ANY sin separates us from God. Christians know that the redemptive blood of Christ is about the forgiveness of sin…any sin and our salvation is about the love of God who sent His only Son to die so that we may have life. My son was a Christian. Suicide is not a sin…it is the result of a diseased and fragile mind,  a confused, frustrated, despairing mind filled with irrational thoughts. So much to consider. The brain is a land yet to be fully discovered, but what has been studied because of advancements in technology in recent years, has been enlightening. But stoic, upstanding, self-righteous types are the biggest obstacle when it comes to education about the so-called “sin” of suicide.

Brandon did not “commit” a sin… in suicide. It was committed upon him by a disease that has been around since the beginning of time. Read the Bible. Another thing that is disturbing is the shame that accompanies this type of death beginning with the word “commit.” It must change. If you, as a reader, are one who uses this term, please change the language. I implore you. But sadly, if it is not a personal experience then the words stay the same about an act that was deemed illegal by the church/government centuries ago. The way our culture looks at suicide is antiquated and almost humorous if it wasn’t so tragic. Do you know how the families of a those who died by suicide were treated many years ago? Some still are. Did you know that many who failed at their suicide attempt were arrested and then given the death penalty??? How outrageous is that?  Sometimes I have thought it is the ones who die by suicide who are sane.

I have known people…many of whom are religious, church-going, God-fearing, people who can’t say the word “suicide.” They cannot come to grips with the fact that the church has been unforgiving and judgmental about suicide. Not long after Brandon passed a boy from the local high school died by suicide. Do you know that his church (Catholic) would not allow his family to have his funeral at their church because it was a suicide? Instead, our church hosted his funeral. To me the church needs an overhaul about a lot of things. I have become overtly critical about the church since this has happened to us. It is lacking the education on cultural matters that have been taboo for a long time. Because everything has become political, including religion, a certain cowardice prevails from within the walls and from the pulpit. No one is saying anything that hasn’t been glossed over or completely dismissed. I can’t stand the ignorance and the condemnation from these institutes of “love.”  Maybe it’s time to exercise the love and forgiveness of Jesus among ourselves. This commandment should be inscribed on our hearts. There should be no walls or boundaries…no containment of this. True love cannot be contained.

As the mother of a child who has died by suicide, and another child who struggles constantly with the torment of mental illness, I have found myself raging mad at a world that causes me to be on the brink of defending suicide. I want to tell the world what I know…what I wish they would know. I cannot condemn suicide anymore than I would condemn cancer. I am a sad but fervent advocate for educating the world about suicide. My blog is the point of beginning. The only shame I should have now is if I did not share what I know.


20 thoughts on “The Shame of Suicide That Needs to Change….

  1. I read your previous post yesterday morning but didn’t have time to comment but when I got home it wasn’t there anymore. Anyway, I just got up at 4am (!) to check you out and saw this post. What an absolutely amazing woman you are – your wisdom and honesty and courage shines bright and you honour your beautiful son with every single word you write. You have taught me so much and I salute you and Brandon and Andrea.

    • Thank you so much Jules. I did put yesterday’s post back up. I only took it down because there was some confusion as to whether Dr. Lineberger had died. Sadly, he did and I also posted the obituary that was online.

      Now, I wanted to tell you about something that I watched about Alzheimers and music. This documentary I watched was about how music positively affects the patients. A man here in the states has been in a mission to take ipods/MP3 players into nursing homes with the music from each individual’s era. The results were absolutely amazing. Here is a clip from it: Have a tissue on hand. Let me know what you think, I hope the whole doc is available for you to watch.

      • Just watched it – so beautiful – thank you so much. I have had the most horrible time with management but am getting over it now and will try to get this kind of thing happening at the nursing home. Love Julie

  2. Thank you for sharing. I struggle with all the same things you wrote about. You defend your son and mine~thank you from the bottom of my broken heart.

  3. Dale, I have learned much from you, and your blog (and from FMO). Thank you! As for public opinion-I find I seldom change someone else’s opinion- if they are being closed-minded and judgmental…no matter how hard I try. There’s no room for them to see another way. I guess they’re people Jesus spoke about in Mark 8:18: those who “have eyes, but fail to see and ears, but fail to hear”… We can’t stop telling our truth though.

    Much love to you and Brandon Big Bear,

  4. “Maybe it’s time to exercise the love and forgiveness of Jesus among ourselves. This commandment should be inscribed on our hearts.” What else can I say but, “Amen.”
    Trying to spread the word one person, one post, one blog at a time, Dale.

  5. I hate how judgemental people can be, especially when they cite religious dogma to support their logic. After what you have endured and are still enduring, it hurts me to think you are expected to feel shame as well.

  6. I attempted suicide long ago – but God would not let me die. But I was still lost. It has taken years and people like you that have kept God in front of me to be able to crawl out of that dark place where I was a prisoner for so long. People don’t realize (especially churches) that people who have committed suicide do not do it willingly, but rather as prisoners. God bless you and your family – and your son’s soul. Very good post!

  7. Very inspiring and powerful post..There are so many people out there that go through what you have been through. I has been God that has got me through a lot of years. I too have come from a very dark place along with many others. I also have a cousin that has lost a husband and 2 children to suicide.

    • Thank you for your gracious comments. I am sad to know that you have been touched personally by the loss of someone to suicide. Yes, God is with us through it all.

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