Looking Out For Others

Unlike most of my columns that don’t elicit much response, yesterday’s personal story I posted has had me overwhelmed with positive responses, as well as troubling and personal responses from other people with regard to suicides in their lives.  So I thought it best to summarize and collect the responses and make some sense of them so that the collective readers could apply those thoughts to their own lives.

Many, many people wrote to me about suicide and how painfully that experience had effected them and their families.  You know when I wrote the column I didn’t really think about the suicide issue very much, I wrote it primarily as a living record of my feelings about that time and wonderful relationship with my daughter.  A record my daughter could read later on in her life, when she was ready to find out what her Dad was all about.

There is no way around it, suicide effects everyone left behind.  It may be an easy out for the one who decides to take their own life, but the consequences are deep and everlasting to those still living.  What I have learned from this whole experience is this; one action, one act of kindness, one act of compassion, one real hug at that right moment can sometimes alter what seems to be a set course.This is what happened in my case.

What I cannot delve into is the issue of deep mental illness, and a suicide that occurs due to this illness. In fact any comment on this type of suicide on my part would be glib, and frankly not based in any type of training or knowledge of mental illness.  All I can say as a lay person is this: If family member or friend appears to be suffering, try and reach out and help.  Whether that help is in the form of simply sitting down and listening to someone else’s problems for an hour, or embracing them either physically or emotionally, this could be the thing that helps, you never really know, until you try.  If you think that there is something else going on, in terms of mental illness, try and get that person some help. TRY. 

In this day and age of Facebook, emails, and less and less personal contact, I have found the response to yesterday’s column refreshing and heartening.  These new forms of communication are different yes, but they are very valid and valuable new forms of keeping a community together.  Where else could I have heard so many other personal stories that actually meant something, in such a short period of time?

Thanks to all my friends and family for your support, and for sharing back with me.  

Latham Posted on August 20, 2010

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