“Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue”
I found out recently that a beloved grandparent had committed suicide. It happened many, many years ago – but I was just recently told the truth. I completely understand why it wasn’t revealed to me at the time – I was only nine. And you can imagine, it was a massive thing for my parent to process about their parent. Especially thinking about how relatively young the person was when they took their own life. When I was told the truth, shocked doesn’t begin to describe my feelings. I still find it incredibly difficult to even say it out loud – much less write it in a public arena. I am still processing that a suicide happened within my immediate family.
This year I’ve written about a recording artist I knew who had taken his life. Also artist Avicii took his own life. And just recently, an industry peer – a man deeply loved and respected by many died ‘suddenly’. Code word for suicide. I have since learned he jumped off a tall parking structure. All these men taking their own lives hurt my heart. I don’t know a better word for it.
Add into the mix an unsettling series of revelations that current medication prescribed for depression has a known side effect of causing suicide!!! And it may be more a part of the story than previously thought. To think that medicine supposed to help, is instead pushing those who are battling depression to taking tragic action.
I try to get my head around it and also feel compassion – rather than thinking a glib ‘but things will get better!’ would have stopped them. To try and grasp that a person feels life is just too much to bear. To feel the only option going forward is to choose death by your own hand. To end it all now.
And there are many textures to suicide. I understand why someone with terrible illnesses, terminal-and-not-getting-better, no quality of life may wish to just shuffle off this mortal coil. And I feel they should have that option. I would consider the option myself if I was at that stage. But when someone seems to be in the fit of health – often with the world appearing to be their oyster, it is difficult to understand. Most likely because it is internal, rather than external pain. If you can’t see the pain and suffering, you can’t imagine it exists.
“Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen
They did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now”
A beautiful song – Don wrote it about Vincent Gogh, an artist who committed suicide.