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After the Suicide Show
Back in September, when we did our As We Are show about abortion, we were all struck by the willingness of our guests and commenters to share their personal experiences with a very hard-to-talk-about subject. That willingness was at least as evident on today's show, on the air and online. As Emily mentioned at the beginning of the show, "suicide is common enough it's a wonder we don't talk about it at the dinner table."
One lesson from the comment thread is that there are many, many dinner tables out there where folks would have a lot to say. It's hard to do justice to these raw, emotionally honest posts in abbreviated form but I thought I'd give you a sense for the breadth of experience that was represented.
Smallfry wrote very succinctly about the damage to a whole family after a father's suicide:
It was obvious that my father was in pain. He had struggled all his life. He never got the help he need. I understand this and I understand that in his state this seemed like the only way out. However, what is left behind for our family is indescribably dark. The desperate need for understanding, the guilt and anger at the person who died. That is all that is left.
Davey43 suggested a literary entry-point for people who are trying to understand what it means to be deeply depressed:
I've been reading David Foster Wallace, who went through this last summer in hell, same as me. He succeeded. But if you read much of his work, it gives great insight into the complex, feverish energy of manic depression. The fear, the helplessness. The framing of everything in the world as so dark and ironic and malignant, that the only retort can be humor--and then fatalism.
HerOddyssey, who has attempted suicide, gave some advice for dealing with mentally ill family members:
No matter how impossible it is for you to understand why they can't just grow past it, accept it. They're in danger. It's not always within their power to struggle against their own brain chemistry. Be there for them. Be aware of it. And don't let their excuses and non-cooperation stand in the way of your helping them.
Singsunshinesongs took us in a very different direction, asking a provocative question after the hour radio had finished:
At what point do we stop trying to prevent suicide? After all the avenues to help have been taken and our loved ones still want to die, I think it is fair to honor our loved ones' wishes and let them end their life without feeling guilt, alone and scared. Giving them permission can offer them a peace of mind in such a tragic moment.
And finally there was Dakota13, who told us about the film he made after his father's suicide. I'd hoped to ask our guests to respond to the first 15 seconds of narration but we ran out of time. Here's the film itself:
What did you hear on the show, or read in the thread, that will stay with you?
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