Okay, okay, I’ll talk.
Suicide has been swirling around me recently. Not, thank God, anyone I know. But the subject. Songs. A celebrity here, someone in town there, a movement against it. People losing jobs, losing themselves, feeling without hope.
Yes. Love is written on my arm.
“I don’t have time to talk about it,” I tell the universe as yet another reference drops into my lap. And today, Kinsi is writing about it, personally, and heartfully.
Okay. Let’s talk.
As I’ve written about before, my elder brother committed suicide.
I was 10 – almost. It was late at night, and I thought I heard my mother laughing. I opened my parents’ bedroom door, and my mother was sobbing. I had never seen her cry before.
They had just received a cold, brutal phone call. “You son was found dead, hanging from a tree.”
Since their other son was in the guestroom with his new wife, they knew who it was. They would have known anyway. He had had “problems” for years. It’s like he was born without that little bubble each of us has, that bubble that provides a bit of protection from the pain of living. Things that would make other people sad – injustice, starving children – would just slice him to the core.
He was a genius. Literally. A brilliant mind. And it extended into creativity. He could pick up a musical instrument the very first time, and within 30 minutes, be playing songs on it. He was a visual artist, crafting things out of found objects.
He hadn’t yet found the drive in himself to do the work you need to do in life. Schoolwork. Responsibility. So he dropped out of high school, decided to join the air force. My father signed the papers. They had already tried counselors, programs. Maybe this would do it.
Instead, he was introduced to drugs, hard drugs. Which only fed his demons inside.
He came home, tried doing different things. He wandered.
He was only 23 when he killed himself. He laid out his military papers so he could be buried for free. He laid out his little life insurance policy.
My parents had to identify the body. My father saw the rope burn marks on his neck, and something broke inside him.
My other brother, 21, newly married, newly graduated, took the job of cleaning out our brother’s apartment. A job my parents will always regret letting him shoulder. Because as those who have done it know, it is excruciating.
My parents still grieve. My dad still hates Father’s Day.
My children, as they became old enough to hear the stories that included “Uncle J,” have asked, “What did he die from?”
And I have explained, that just as you can get sick in the tummy, you can get sick in the head. And you can get help for it, just like with your tummy.
“You know how when you have a bad stomachache, it feels like you’ll never get well again?” Yes, they know that feeling.
“Well, you can get so sad, that you feel you’ll never be happy again. But what happens with your tummy?” It finally gets better, they say.
“Yes. But you had to tell Mama or Daddy so we could get you medicine or take you to the doctor, right?” Uh-huh.
“Well, it’s the same with getting that sad. You have to tell someone. Even if you don’t believe you can ever be happy again, you have to tell someone. You can tell us, or a grownup friend, or a teacher. But you need to tell someone. Just say, ‘I’m sad, and I don’t know what to do about it.’”
So, right now … if you feel like this, if you find this … please.
Tell someone. “I’m sad and I don’t know what to do about it.”
If you are thinking about suicide, read this first.