There was another friend’s husband who wanted to exit a marriage that caused him too much pain; he tried for it, but lived. There were others, but none as fortunate as the one who failed.
Suicide is not something that can just be figured out so it can be understood and then accepted. Some would-be suicides leave notes trying to explain it to their survivors or friends, but the notes do little to really soothe the wounds left behind by the exiting soul.
Thank goodness for that suicide attempt that failed. It was a learning experience for everyone involved in any way, from the man himself, to his wife, and to all the assorted friends, relatives and strangers that would have been left behind. The lesson? Suicide is a permanent solution (or so one thinks) to a temporary situation — since nothing long stays as it looks today. Telling his wife about his misery and sadness was all it took to remove his overwhelming burden. It took time, but the pain was healed through a healthy divorce that changed things into a new and honest friendship.
Last month a young man (a teenager really) that I only knew from seeing on television as one of the twins in the series, Everybody Loves Raymond, committed suicide at the age of 19. Outside of one account that suggested he had financial difficulties, there didn’t seem to be any information about the reason. Everyone apparently loved him and said he brought joy into their life; he got along well with his family, had just bought a house with his twin brother, and there
was nothing — especially drugs or alcohol — to suggest a reason…except for one little comment about “something” that seemed to come on rather suddenly.
No doubt that ‘something” was the problem, but what it was remains to be seen as I write these words.
I really can’t think of anything sadder than suicide if you feel that’s the only solution to your current situation. Outside of those who end their life after having lived their life and find their final years — or all the years they may yet have left — to be filled with unbearable pain, suicide seems to be a lonely, solitary act of “What else can I do?” Most people, I would dare say, even if they are totally against suicide no matter the reason, can at least understand the desire for exiting unbearable pain. And that includes, I imagine, understanding the decisions that loved ones might have to make to help that happen.
But to be alone with your thoughts and to come to the conclusion that there is no other option of any kind except to kill yourself, is a heavy reality that happens all too often. How many of us would want to know:
—Did the exiting soul not have a single person with whom he or she could discuss the problem?
—Did the exiting soul consider the lasting effects that this suicide would have on all the people in his or her life, especially those who were very close or very involved?
—Did the exiting soul give adequate consideration to what comes next, after the deed is done? Or did he or she believe there was nothing after death?
—Did the exiting soul believe that his departure would make things better — in some important way — for those involved in the reason he/she chose that solution?
—Did the exiting soul feel or believe that his choice would make some unmistakable statement about something that needed to be made?
—Did the exiting soul want to hurt someone in the worst possible way?
—Did the exiting soul merely make his or her decision due to some overwhelming and out-of-control feeling, and if only he/she could have gotten past that moment, would never have made that decision?
There are probably several other questions that others might think to ask if they were in a position to ask, but as so many of us learn after the fact, we didn’t even know this was an issue. We had no clue.
But if we keep aware, we may yet have a clue when we need one. There are probably what some might call “standard” reasons for one to commit suicide. In no special order, and with no pretense of being an expert on the subject, I would suggest that other than pain, the “reasons” that might surface have a lot to do with money, love, power, reputation or shame. People who’ve had it all and lose it — in a depression or some major financial downturn, perhaps even through
gambling — and who felt that their life really was defined by their financial worth, cannot go on without it. We often read about such people in the paper. My sister experienced knowing the boyfriend she rejected (I still remember his name but will not mention it here) could not bear losing the “great love” of his life (at the tender age of 17); and my classmate who found herself in a family way without benefit of husband certainly was overwhelmed by her shame.
When we think of all the reasons people might do the wrong thing, we can probably agree that two of the main reasons are for love and money. And if we look at people in certain categories, we could probably say that people such as politicians, tycoons, and the very wealthy, for example, love their power, which supports their reputations, and often is the dual basis on which their assumed value rests. Where we tend to put our “stock,” so to speak, is where we believe our value lies.
We can’t stop every, or even any, suicide, especially if the departing soul is a good actor and doesn’t give us a clue. But we can always give each other the reassurance that we are there, if they ever need to talk; that we care about them, that we’re available if they need our help, and that we value them as a friend, brother, child, or whatever they are to us.
We can assure each other that nothing ever stays the same, and that suicide is always a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at email@example.com.