ON A PERSONAL NOTE/By Maramis
Some days it just hits you when you hear about it: another suicide. Another reason for deep thinking, and maybe even praying for the soul of the departed, no matter what brought him or her to that moment of action. And no matter even what good those prayers might do — or not do.
No, it’s not that I heard about another suicide today, but I was involved in a conversation about the subject. While we can all remember certain well-known personalities who have chosen suicide as a form of escape from this life, this column is not about naming names and counting up all those who felt the need to go down that road. Yet because this month includes Veterans Day, a day that holds great significance for all those who have served this country — and even for their families and friends — it will be no surprise to many that some of those returning veterans who survived unimaginably horrific engagements with the enemy returned to find themselves facing the deep, dark, enemy of their own depression.
Thank goodness that so many returning vets — even those who may have lost hands, feet, limbs, or even a part of their sense of sanity — return to this country with a sense of gratitude in their hearts for being alive after all they’ve been through. Many of them go on to become examples of fortitude and courage as they bounce back in almost miraculous ways to show that their essence, the spirit of who they are, did not reside in their missing parts. Those who welcome them back are welcoming that essence, that spirit, and we can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done and were willing to do.
But some who have returned from fighting one enemy now find themselves fighting an enemy they can’t seem to overcome. It is one they carry
around with themselves wherever they go. Just because a veteran has returned in one piece does not mean they are all right on the inside.
And time is not always a veteran’s friend, as though “Just give ‘em time to readjust to being home” and all will be well.
The more we know about the suicide of those who managed to go through hell and yet still returned home, those who suffered through the various situations, experiences, feelings, and circumstances that might lead one to consider that choice — whether with full consciousness or the lack thereof — the more we ought to feel that a veteran’s fatal choice is a subject worthy of more understanding and discussion for all of us, a subject that we can do something about, at least when it comes to our own returning veteran of war.
While Veterans Day is not like Memorial Day in that it is for all the veterans of any war and warrants its celebration always on November 11
(no matter what day it falls on), and there is an actual Moment that calls all Americans to observe two minutes of silence on this day, beginning at 3:11 pm Atlantic standard time (adjust for your time zone), in honor of the service and sacrifice of veterans throughout he history of our nation. The 3:11 pm time was chosen because in 1918, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I. People may wish their veterans (or even others) a “Happy Veterans Day,” unlike Memorial Day, which does not warrant any happy greeting.
(One does not remember the passing of any service member in that way, although if they do, please do not reprimand them.) People still wish to remember their loved ones who fought in any war, no matter how they died. They are still veterans and deserve to be remembered on Veterans Day. While others may choose more of a celebratory form of observance, no one ought to criticize those who still go within to reflect on the life of their loved ones.
Because of the sadness that may not easily go away, even many years after the tragedy, people who have thought of taking that way out wish they could offer some words of solace to those still suffering.
One anonymous person offered, “People who choose suicide are not thinking about what others will think. They are thinking that they have no other choice. No one might suspect that they are depressed, but even if they did suspect, they might not have known what to do.
That is truly too bad. Many lives could have been saved if they knew what to do and/or had the courage to do something about it. I’ll bet there are many people out there who wish they would’ve done something, yet rather than living with those regrets, I beg you to do what you wish you had done then. Get educated about suicide, the signs to look for, and who to call for help. Suicide can be prevented! I know!”
Another reader offered these insights. “Some people are quick to judge the person who takes their own life, including religious leaders and followers of their own faith who might even go so far as to suggest or state the person is burning in hell for what they did. Even people who believe in hell can be inclined to choose suicide. But to add the additional punishment of eternal hellfire for their loved one onto what the family is already suffering is a cruel thing to do. No God I know of would do that, regardless of what those religious leaders might preach. God — not someone who claims to be a so-called man of God, or anybody else — is the judge!” (Someone who has known those quick-to-condemn preachers)
And we wonder why more people don’t flock to the kind of religion that might preach hellfire for the unfortunate victim of suicide. Would Jesus ever have said such things to the family of one suffering the loss of a loved one by their own hand? He would have loved them anyway, and would likely give the person now on the other side of death the chance to understand what went wrong in their life and to get on with their journey toward their chosen destination for where to spend eternity.
Thank goodness God does not make snap decisions for us and lets us take our free will with us to the other side of death.
Suicide is a choice—a choice made while in deep pain and suffering. No one should condemn a person for that. And no one should add anything
more onto the shoulders of those mourning the loss of their loved one by speaking ex-cathedra about what they believe is the punishment for
such a sad choice.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is still 1-800-273-8255, but starting in July 2022 (exact date unknown), the new number to call for help when feeling that way will be 988. KEEP THESE TWO NUMBERS HANDY AND LEARN WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP.
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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.