Updated: Mar 9
If you have ever thought of suicide, or lost a loved one to suicide, you need to read this.
Suicide has always been a part of my life. Both of my maternal and paternal grandmothers committed suicide, along with my brother and a couple of distant family members. When I was in high school, my mother tried over and over again to take her life. When I should have been having the time of my life in as a teenager, I was dealing with this. All of this has led to my unique perspective on the subject.
Every year at the beginning of the holidays I have felt a strong need to share the poem to the right that I wrote about my grandmother. Why at this time? Because I believe more people are thinking about taking their own lives during the holidays than any other time. This is the year I write the article. If you have ever had one single thought that you could just simply end your own life and all your troubles would be gone, please read on. If you have lost a loved one to suicide and you do not know why, you are not alone. If you know someone or even suspect someone is contemplating suicide, please share this article with them. It may save their life. And yours.
Suicide is not what you think. It is not the end. Oh, it may be for you but not the ones you leave behind. I was a teenager when I wrote the poem. I still grieve today.
There is another reason I want to share my thoughts. There are so many young people taking their lives today before they even have a chance to live. This is so tragic and I want to address this head on in this article.
There are times when you can understand or rationalize why someone has taken their own life. In my maternal grandmother's case, we think we know what was in her mind, but there is no way for us to rationalize her actions.
In many ways this was a love story, a very sad love story. Mama loved my grandfather, who we knew and loved as Papa, so much that she always said she would never live without him. He was the strong, quiet type that everyone respected. He was very creative and could build anything. They had four grown children, my mother being one of them, and a bunch of grandchildren, when Papa had a heart attack. I distinctly remember the entire family gathered together at Georgia Baptist awaiting the outcome of electrical shock treatments to correct his irregular heart beats. We were told it would either regulate his heart, or it may be the end. There was an eruption of joy when he came through the ordeal. We thought the joy was shared by all of us. Later, we were to come to believe that in Mama's mind, Papa died that day.
He didn't die though. He had the first pacemaker that was implanted in Georgia at Georgia Baptist Hospital. But before he would come home, Mama waited until my aunt and her two girls left for work and school, closed all the blinds in the house, put on her favorite red, satin pajamas, and took her life with a sawed off shotgun. When the delegation of family members went to the hospital to tell Papa what happened, he was just quiet, We were never to know what he was thinking.
Some days later Papa went home from the hospital. My mother and aunts were taking turns staying with him during the day until my other aunt came home from work. One morning, one month, 30 days after my grandmother's untimely death, it appeared that Papa was on the way to greet my mother when he simply passed away, the pacemaker working perfectly.
Was this a love story or a story of total selfishness? If my grandmother had not taken her own life, would Papa have been ok? Could they have lived for many years longer, enjoying the love of their children and grandchildren and cherishing the successes in their lives? We will never know. No one ever knows after a suicide the answers to the burning questions ... why, and what if.
I never knew my paternal grandmother. She took her life when my Dad was only twelve. What I understand is that it was during the depression and times were hard. She had six children at the time, all boys except for the baby. There wasn't a lot to eat and she suffered from a vitamin deficiency. So she ended her life with a shotgun and left her husband and children to fend for themselves.
I wish things could have been different. I fully understand how hard things were then and how depressing it must have been for her to try to take care of all those children, to feed them with so little to go around. I only wish she had hung on, I could have met her, and she could have seen what a wonderful family she brought forth.
My mother was one of the most creative people I have ever known. She was always busy with one or more projects, but she was never the same after her mother, my grandmother, took her life and the death of Papa. Basically, she stopped doing everything she loved. She started going to doctors who were sending her home with one prescription after another and before we knew it, she was hooked. That led her deeper into depression which she more or less took out on me. I fought with her to take pills away from her. I heard a noise in the basement and found her pulling a rope over a pipe to hang herself. Over and over she threatened that she was going to do away with herself. Then came the day when she actually took a bottle of sleeping pills. She opened my bedroom door and announced she would be out of everyone's way soon, and closed the door. I had heard this so much I was numb. I walked across the hall to her bedroom where she was laying. I sat in the chair and watched her chest rise and then drop. Part of me wanted to do nothing, but I couldn't. I called my Dad and an ambulance took her to the hospital.
The next time I saw my mother, she was crying and apologizing profusely. The therapist had made her realize what she had done to me and she promised never to threaten to take her life again. She didn't, but I believe the damage to her body was severe. In 1976, we discovered she had cancer and six months later, she passed away at 54 years old. She never recovered from Mama's death.
My brother and I were not close. He was six years old when I was born and I guess I kind of got in his way. My aunts told the story of how he was running out of the house as they brought me, the new baby in. They asked him to wait, "don't you want to see your new sister?" "I saw her," he replied and off he went out of the door. His attitude never change. On my 30th birthday I told him I had spent many years of my life trying to make friends with him and I quit. It was ok with him.
But I did keep up with him through family members and saw him occasionally at family events. Later in life his health was not good and failing more everyday. He and his wife had a place in Florida and while there he broke his leg which led to a lot of problems and therapy, and I guess he didn't see a way to go on with any promise of good health. With the family background that we shared, I didn't even flinch when I was told he had taken his life with a bullet to his head.
I'm not sure my brother was ever really happy in his entire life and I grieve for him for that reason. I understand why he took this route, but he still left five grown children and several grandchildren missing him and wondering why.
There have been many tines in my life that I have had little thoughts of suicide. I truly do not believe it is in my dna though. But there was one time in my life that I was not in control. Not so long ago, I went through a little stretch with menopause that I thought I was losing my mind. Indeed, I drove sixty miles one day to my ex-sister in law and asked her this question ... "Was my mother crazy, and am I following in her footsteps?" She assured me that my mother was not crazy and neither was I. During this time, I would wake up every morning to a sinking feeling and the thought, "darn, another day." I have always been a workaholic and consider myself one of the strongest women I know. So why could I not control my emotions?
I really thought of suicide during this time. I told my friend one day about searching for the best tree to drive into. She told me of someone she knew years ago who did that and lived 40 years in a coma. "Not good," I thought. So I muddled through. I did not want to take hormones, so I tried every holistic remedy I could find including walking and herbal teas. Bringing the best results was reaching out to friends. In the end, I did take hormones for one year and after that everything was ok again without the hormones. And guess what was waiting on me on the other side ... my soul mate, Jeff and the happiest times of my life.. What I would have missed if I had done something stupid! The absolute best time of my entire life.
What I Have Learned
Please understand this is only my opinion.
When little thoughts of suicide poked into my mind over the years, and they did often, I would think 'if whatever doesn't get better, I can just end it all.' But every time, I would listen to these thoughts and then ...poof ... make them go away. Suicide is never the answer! Whatever is is happening to you at the moment ... one small moment of your life ... is just that.. The answer is this:
If there is something so wrong in your life that you cannot deal with it ... Change It., Not You.
You have the power. You have everything inside of you to do anything you want.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Will whatever that is troubling me be an issue in ten years? In ten weeks? In ten days? Things change constantly. Nothing in life is forever! Don't let the moment rob you of the rest of your life. Nothing is as overwhelming as it seems!
2. What if I just did something else ... changed everything? You don't have to stay in your situation. Do something different. Drastically different, if necessary. Make a 90 degree turn. Think about what would make you happy? Is there something you have always wanted to do? Somewhere you have always wanted to go ... to move and live? Think about it and then Go do it! You do not have to dwell in your troubles! Go on an adventure! You can do something you enjoy!
3. How can I get some help? Do Not try to work through this alone. You are surrounded by Angels who are there, waiting to help. It may be a total stranger, someone you just run into. If you do not have family or close friends, go to an organization ... this could be a therapist, a church, a social club ... anywhere. You never know where you will meet your Angels. You may just find that having someone to talk to can help you see your way through. Get yourself a best friend ... a sweet puppy to take care of and talk to. The love of a fur baby can work miracles! It may be good to think about a four legged friend instead of yourself.
4. Have I talked to God? Have you asked for His help? I was watching Joel Osteen one Sunday when I had been suffering severely with an abscessed tooth. Joel was talking about moving the mountains out of our paths. I had spent days not being able to lay down because of the pain, no sleep, really miserable. I started walking around the house, asking for the mountain of pain (my mountain at the time) to get out of my way. I did this for around thirty minutes, getting louder and more demanding all the time, until I realized I was getting tired. I sat down and fell asleep for the first time in days. That night I slept in the bed with no pain. On Monday I went to the dentist and honestly, the root canal was the easiest I have ever been through. There was no pain. I even remember saying to Dr. Brown when he said he was done, "for real?" I have used this technique many times since for little mountains that pop up and it works. You can move any mountain in your path with God's help.
5. Why do I care what someone else thinks? It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about you. Winston Churchill said it best: When you're 20 you care what everybody thinks, when you're 40 you stop caring what everybody thinks, when you're 60 you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place. So there you have it. The only person that matters is you and you can do anything you want as long as it doesn't hurt yourself or anyone else. Afraid of being embarrassed? We live in a world where anything goes. Instead of being embarrassed, laugh. Nothing is as freeing as laughing at yourself.
6. Why am I so sad? Depression, simply put, is anger turned inward. What are you angry about? Why are you angry at yourself? You have the option to be angry, mad, or you can choose joy! Audacious and unbridled joy that looks for light in everything! If you are choosing to be sad, Stop. Laugh out loud! Laughter is indeed the best medicine and could be the cure for all suicide. I have never laughed so much as when Jeff came into my life. In addition to laughing, we sing. He spent a lot of time as a boy at the Athens YMCA and knows all the old camp songs. Sing. Out loud. You can't be sad when you sing!
7. How can I change what is troubling me? Sometimes you have to make changes you never thought were possible if there is someone in your life that is causing you pain ... a spouse, for example. Never allow people to be in your life that are hurting you or are not uplifting you everyday. Your life has value. You are put here on earth to grow spiritually and to be a part of the world. You still have so much more to accomplish. If you need to remove someone from your life to be happy, be brave enough to get through it knowing fully that what it on the other side will be happier for you.
8. What will uplift me right now? I tried all kind of things when I had my little menopause curse. My best advice is ... walk outside, look at the sky, the green grass, hear the birds, watch the critters. Mother Nature can work wonders for immediate joy. Get away from your negative environment and see how beautiful the world really is. You are part of nature. Explore. Remember when you were a child laying on the grass finding images in the clouds? Do that again. Take your shoes off. Feel the grass between your toes. Make a bracelet out of clover blooms. Walking is great. Walk several times a day until you have figured out what you want to do to make you happy.
9. Who would miss me if I was gone? You think no one would miss you? No one would really care if you were gone? Read the poem again. There is more in your life than you. Who might miss you the most is the person or people you have yet to meet. You never know what is waiting just around the corner. Never in a million years could I have ever imagined I would meet my soul mate at 69 after being divorce for 36 years!!! Oh my God, what joy I would have missed!
10. Am I just thinking about myself? Suicide is the most selfish thing anyone can do. So right now, stop thinking about yourself and get out and do something for someone else. Volunteer at the Humane Society or to walk the neighbor's dog while they are at work. Over the holidays, help prepare and serve meals for the homeless. Help with projects at a church or school. Get a job doing something you enjoy. Do anything you can do to get out of the house and around other people. Do something that is not all about you! If you don't have a family to spend the holidays with, look around you. There are people everywhere is the same situation. Invite them all over to dinner ... pot luck. You'll not only make yourself happier just think what you will do for everyone there. If you don't have a family, create one! You do not have to be connected biologically to be family today.
About the Kids
Why are so many kids taking their own lives today? These kids have not even begun to live. You have to ask why?
I fear for our children today, from youngsters to college age and beyond. Since the 60s, children have been taught in school that competition is not a good thing. That is not preparing kids for grown up life. They are being taught from very young ages to question who or what they really are ... are they really a boy or a girl. This is disturbing on any level. They are being taught that earth, which has been here for billions and billions of years, will cease to exist in twelve years. No wonder they are sad and confused, and don't see their place in the world.
Children are taught to believe what they are told, not allowed to think for themselves. They are not studying history and we all know that those who do not learn from history are doomed to live through it again. When we were in school, we were presented the facts and it was up to us to decide what we believed. Schools are not to brainwash us, but to teach us how to think and prepare us for a world where we will have to think for ourselves. I commend those parents who home school their children or send them to private schools where they have input in the curriculum.
All of this and Social Media has robbed children of childhood. They are not allowed to be simply children enjoying life and playing. There is a reason why we do not arrive on earth fully grown. We need that time to develop, not being forced into someone's cube, but to grow to the fullest of their individual potential.
I believe the biggest problem is that our children do not know how to laugh. They take everything way too seriously. I am saddened by what is happening to our children. Even though we were warned that this was happening in our schools years ago, it still seemed to creep up on everyone.
Maybe a starting point to end child suicide would be for parents to talk to their children. This may not be easy. I have friends whose children think their parents are dumb and don't know anything, or that refuse to believe what they are trying to talk to them about because they have been taught differently. You need to persist. Watch your children closely for any signs of withdrawal. If they are younger, take them on trips where they you can have fun with them and engage them in play. Kids today need to learn how to laugh and play.
I started a book years ago that I wanted to title Running Start. I believe that everything that makes a person what they are is there at the moment of conception. How they feel, what their potential expertise may be, what drives them. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were able to talk and play with our children to find out what they are passionate about ... sports, construction, art, science? We could then help them learn more about those subjects by introducing them to people in those fields, maybe even securing them classes or an internship. Wouldn't it be better to help them find their passion not leaving them questioning everything about life and themselves?
The most important thing to do with children today is to expose them to laughter and the brighter side of life.
I would appreciate your thoughts. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are in need of a friend, contact me. You have at least one friend here who is ready to talk to you.
If you are in immediate trouble contact the
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at
Thank you for sharing your words about suicide. Your words are powerful and brought tears to my eyes. I have a beloved Aunt who took her life just a few years ago. I wish she hadn't. What she left behind were many notes that told us about the many times she had thought about it but something happened and then she wouldn't do it that day. She planned everything out. I wish she knew how much her death would rock us and how much we miss her.
Thank you for opening up your heart and soul. Thank you!
Read your article on suicide. While we have had to deal with several other mental maladies like addiction, we have not had to confront suicide recently. I'm so sorry you have so much experience with it. Success and failure are part of everyone's life, and I do think that people handle failure and loss of hope differently. I watched my own father go broke thrice, and yet the five children felt no effect. I too have been broke twice, and after witnessing my father work his way out of it, i.e. I had good modeling.
Like your poem, I do think suicide can be selfish and it leaves an incredible ripple effect on the surviving family.
Thank you for sharing.
I read your article on suicide. I'm very sorry for all your losses. I can't imagine what you went through as a young lady. It's sounds like it only made you a stronger person. The article was beautifully written. I truly enjoyed it. It couldn't have come at a better time. I needed some good up lifting advice. I have not had any family member commit suicide but I do know some friends who have. Its just heart wrenching watching families deal with the aftermath. I do have someone I can pass this article on too. While I was at the Pets Emergency Hospital this weekend with my Maggie girl, I got to know the receptionist very well. When I told her my husband did woodworking, she said, "Oh I have to show you something." She went on to explain to me she had a friend she was helping with depression and Suicide issues. She said her friend copes with her suicide issues by doing woodworking. Her friend makes beautiful walking sticks, wind chimes and other wood items. Whatever items she sells she donates the money to help Suicide Prevention Programs. What a coincidence you wrote this article. Timing is everything. Thank you for sharing part of your life story with the world. I was very uplifted by it. Keep up the good work. I cant wait to read more. By the way... I love Winston Churchill inspirational quotes. " You have enemies? GOOD that means you stood up for something, sometime in your life " Georgette