Friday, September 23, 2016


“September 2016 is also known as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month which helps promote resources and awareness around the issues of suicide prevention, how you can help others and how to talk about suicide without increasing the risk of harm.”

I made my first suicide attempt about 60 years ago.  The fact that I am going to celebrate my 68th birthday later this year is nothing short of a miracle. People who know anything at all about my life know this statement is not an exaggeration.   

It is indeed ironic that after all these years of fighting suicide the quality of my life has been so drastically damaged and my  soul shattered by the suicide of a family member.  It is not about blaming her because I did not walk in her shoes nor was I inside her mind and soul.  However, that does not change what her decision has done to the day to day struggles of my wife and to me.  Her sister was my wife’s only sibling.  The person who best held her same memories.  My wife lost her co-memory bank, sister and her childhood playmate.  She will never know the reason her sister killed herself and my wife will never be the same again.

We could be talking more realistically about suicide than we are.  We talk about prevention.  Part of our great prevention plans are laws that allow us to lock hurting people up and hold them like criminals until they say they no longer feel like dying.  I never answer the question about whether or not I am thinking about killing myself to my psychiatrist because I know it does not mean help it means losing my freedom and being locked away.

There is an answer.  You just do not hear it much.

Loving people so authentically that they over time come to believe they are a person worthy of loving themselves so deeply that self-destruction of all kinds simply slowly slip into a sleep.

What do I mean.  I mean that you walk behind them picking up the pieces and helping them put things back together and not walking in front of them with them on a leash trying to drag them where you want them to go.

If they tell you they want to walk straight into hell.  Don’t say, “You will get burnt. Don’t do that.”  Say, “Let me see if we can find a way to get you some fire protection gear.”  

“Carl Rogers (1902-1987) was a humanistic psychologist who agreed with the main assumptions of Abraham Maslow, but added that for a person to "grow", they need an environment that provides them with genuineness (openness and self-disclosure), acceptance (being seen with unconditional positive regard), and empathy (being listened to and understood).”

We need more than a campaign saying “prevent suicide.”  We need people saying we are a “person” and treating us with authentic love and positive regard.  With that we might just learn to Dream Again and want to live.

© Ed Cooper, 9/23/2016, Stoney Creek, Appalachia
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