As I listen to the man who lost his loved one off a cliff on the Oregon coast, I am reminded that the Buddhists say that a suicide affects a family for ten generations. That alone is reason to spend time understanding its botanical origins and to spend significant efforts at its prevention. My grandmother, Rosamond Pinchot, took her life on January 24, 1938. She was the niece of Governor Gifford Pinchot of Pennsylvania, first Chief of the United States Forest Service. No one in my family ever talked about Rosamond, or the reasons she suicided until I started to ask questions in 2003. It was said that no one understood it, that Rosamond had every reason to live. Not feeling satisfied with the mystery that everyone proclaimed it was, at 44, I started sniffing around and looking in closets. I spent five years tracing Rosamond's suicide in The Loveliest Woman in America: A Tragic Actress, Her Lost Diaries and A Granddaughter's Search for Home. I hope that my journey back, from the 1920s and 1930s, through the 1990s and my father's death, helps others to understand the roots of suicide in one family, and how one death creates dominoes of dysfunction. Talking about it helps. Behind the suicide is often a box of family secrets, assumptions, undiagnosed depression anger and unexpressed grief. I found that tracing the roots of depression and suicide back through my family helped me to understand its botanical origins and hopefully help hasten and abbreviate the scourge of ten generations.
posted 4 years, 4 months ago
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