Nine years ago this month, I received a phone call that changed the course of my life. Michael called to say goodbye; with every fiber of my being, I thought that we would find Michael and get him to a hospital where he would received help. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that phone call would be our last conversation ever.
Since that day, my life has continued to be ravished by suicide -- some resulted in the deaths of people I love and still others survived. Suicide simply transfers the pain of the ones who died to the ones left behind.
The following statistics are from SPAN-GA, a suicide prevention network:
One out of every TEN students has seriously
considered suicide in the last 12 months.
One out of every TWENTY students has ATTEMPTED suicide in the last 12 months.
For every ONE Youth Suicide, there are up to
200 youth suicide attempts.
The youngest suicide loss in Georgia was
8 years old, and we are seeing suicidal
ideation as young as 5.
Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for
youth ages 15 - 24, and 2nd leading cause
of death for college students.
If these stats are true, why are we still silent on the issue of suicide? People are hurting and don't know where to turn to end their pain, so they take the life-threatening path. I pray that we will listen with our hearts as well as with our ears and that we will be compassionate and non-judgmental.
I work with a support group for people who have lost loved ones to suicide; many feel embarrassed to talk to their family and friends about what happened, fearing that somehow they might be blamed for the suicide. Others heap guilt on themselves, wondering how in the world they could have missed the warning signs. I've been there, and I can tell you that going down that road only adds to the guilt and shame. Ultimately those who die by suicide are in such pain, that the only escape they see in the moment is suicide. If we could have prevented it, we would have -- sadly it was not in our control.
Iris Bolton describes the gift that many find in the healing process. Nine years ago, I would have balked at this. Today, I realize that as I share the reality of Michael's death with others, lives have been saved and others have found healing. This is not a boast about my actions but a testimony to the gift of God. Michael's death was not in vain. While I wish there had been another way, God has used it to not only transform my life, but the lives of many others as well. The devastating pain has shaped me into a stronger more compassionate person -- an unexpected gift.
If you are hurting from the suicide of someone you love, wait for the gift. It may not be immediate, but joy comes in the morning.
In my next post, I will share lessons I have learned in the past nine years since Michael's death.
Labels: Suffering, Suicide