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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Survivors of Suicide

Personally, I know two people who have taken their own lives: one was a family member, an elderly man I knew for most of my life. Was I shocked? Well, the answer to that question is "yes"--and "no." Let me explain. First, I think suicide is always shocking. It seems that when asked, survivors often say they had no idea the person who committed suicide was depressed or gave any indication he/she was intending to carry out such an act. old man

I don't find that hard to believe. A person can become quite adept at hiding depression. One of the characteristics of depression is the perpetual rumination of hopelessness and pain. It's all going on in the mind--in a deep, dark place that is all too real and frightening. Like silent screaming.

In the instance of the man in my family, I observed that he lived an unusual life that was unhealthy mentally and socially. He was an intelligent and creative person. Hardworking and gifted. But those qualities couldn't rescue him from his torment.

Could someone have prevented this? This much I can tell you: for years, many family members recognized his troubled life, his abnormal behavior and advised him to make changes! But he never listened and never sought help. Plus, he had never told anyone that he was depressed or wanted to die.

Beyond shock and grief, survivors of suicide may experience guilt feelings. They may ask themselves: What did I miss? What could I have done? What kind of awful, deep despair did this person suffer?

If you or someone you know is a survivor of suicide and is struggling and hurting, please know that there is help. Register for Samaritan's Survivors of Suicide Support Group. The environment of our group is safe and supportive. You will meet other people who can empathize with you, who understand your pain. Hope, healing and peace await...