Today has been designated as World Suicide Prevention Day by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP).
While I understand the idea behind this effort, I doubt that we can know the mind of someone well enough to prevent this kind of death, otherwise, many people would still be alive. Too many times we hear, after the fact, that a loved one “would have never done such a thing,” “we had no idea he/she was depressed,” “if only we had known…” so many declared cliches that lull us into thinking that there really is a way to prevent suicide. And still people die daily, hourly…right this minute from a death that looks like a conscious decision. Truly there are those cases that are about euthanasia than about desperation, despair, depression, mental illness. That is not the kind of suicide of which I am referring. I am talking about the sick mind that makes poor judgments from either a long thought out delusional process or a quick, irrational, impulse.
I preface my statements with “I believe”…because I am most certainly not a scientist, physician, neurologist, psychiatrist, etc…. My beliefs are based on my understanding of all that I have read over the course of these past six years after my youngest child’s death, which was ruled a suicide. I believe mental illness is behind suicide deaths. There is no rationale to end ones life, we have an innate desire put there by God to fight or flee from danger. I believe that the will to live is by design. I believe that the brain can become ill like any other part of the body. I believe the difference in fighting or fleeing is one “wire away” from malfunction. Below are links to credible theories and studies about the hardwired brain.
I wish with all of my broken heart that suicide could be prevented, but I know that, as with all diseases, not all can be saved or healed. While every effort is being made to intervene with medical treatment and drugs, there are still diseases that kill us. If I could have known that my son would die by his own hand (if he did..there is still room for doubt in our case) I would have gladly stepped between him and the bullet that killed him. If I could have gotten him the professional help that would have hopefully “changed his mind”….well, I would have. But even then there are no guarantees because too many times the professionals are unable to “prevent” this kind of death or the thinking behind it. Too many times they prescribe the very drug that puts a patient over the edge. Mental Illness is a wait and see kind of illness and sadly, it can also be terminal. Repeatedly there are patients who try and try again until they succeed. And although it was obvious that they intended to die where was the prevention that would impede their final try?
Prevention? I say, good, if it is possible but mostly I say ‘Awareness’ is a better word for an illness that has yet to be cured. Every month seems to host a disease that is still being studied, still killing and maiming, with no real proof that anything is paying off..so to speak. There have been small strides here and there for this disease and that. Not smoking is a preventive measure for lung cancer, heart disease, etc…and that is all well and good but there are people who still die from lung cancer who never smoked! My question is HOW do you prevent the brain from becoming ill? After all, it is the disease itself that causes death by suicide. It is the disease that must be prevented.
I understand that there are bridges that communities have spent money on for fencing to keep jumpers away. That is a preventive measure to stop an action. But where is the prevention to stop the thought? If love or a kind word or a cup of coffee would treat despair or depression brought about by brain malfunction or chemistry, misfiring of the synapse, or injury….there would be a lower rate of suicide. My most loved son would still be here! No, love and cupcakes are pat answers for those who do not truly understand the deeper darkness to this kind of tragic disease.
These are just my thoughts today on a day that may enlighten the world to the plight of those who may be thinking about ending their lives. But dare I say, will you or I be able to go out today and save someone from their disease? I wish it could be so.