Saturday, November 12, 2011

Numbers that Shock: One-half

Yesterday was Remembrance or Veteran's Day, depending on where you live. Today, November 12, is another kind of Remembrance Day today.

Today should have been the day my younger sister turned fifty years old. But she'll never get there--at thirty-one years of age, she killed herself.

She will never see her neice and nephews graduate from university and graduate school, just as she never saw them graduate from high school. She'll never hear David preach a sermon, or Allison play in a concert. She wasn't there to celebrate my parents' fiftieth wedding anniversary, and she wasn't there for dad's eightieth birthday.

She was a writer, but her poems and stories will never be published. She won't ever win NaNoWriMo, or write a novel. She won't ever acheive... Well, what she would have acheived had she lived.

And we miss her. We have a gaping hole in our family that will never be filled, no matter how many babies are born, birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated. A part of each of us is dead.

And it has shocked me to learn that over one-half of all violent deaths in the world are due, not to terrorism and war or drug cartels or domestic disputes, but to suicide. More than one half of all people in the world who die violently do so at their own hands.

More US military personnel kill themselves than are killed in combat, and I suspect the numbers are similar in Canada and around the world.

So today, I remember. I remember when life was bad for me, and I thought at times my family might be better off without me. What saved me was remembering my parents at my sister's memorial service and afterwards, trying to cope with their grief, and thoughts of my children, left to grow up and struggle on their own, with no one to help them understand.

A plea, heartfelt from me to you.

If someone talks to you about suicide, TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY. With Mary, the clues were all there, but the rest of us were clueless. In her writing, in her comments to us, she left little clues, quite probably hoping we'd notice. We didn't, and I for one wish I had, and that I'd told her how much she meant to me.

Even without talk of suicide, tell your family members and close friends that you love them, that you appreciate them. Be specific, and tell them what they do that's so important for you. It will make their day, and it might save their life.

If you are depressed, and feel like killing yourself might be a valid option, GET HELP. And if the first person you talk to can't or won't help, keep on asking until you find someone, anyone, who will listen. Ministers and priests, teachers and counsellors, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, police officers, doctors, nurses, firefighters. Me. Someone from amongst the many people you meet each day will listen, and take you seriously.

Remember that you are loved, and you have love to give. There is help out there. And life will get better, and you WILL be glad you lived through this moment.

All my love and prayers,


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