Friday, October 06, 2006


...When Stuart wrote that he was sure his suicide would come as a surprise, he was mistaken. I knew he would eventually take his life. I had even discussed with Paul what we could do to stop Stuart from carrying out his plan. Paul told me there was nothing we could do--he said that if we were to turn Stuart in for help, he would be put into a mental hospital. Paul added, "Then Stuart will hate you, and nothing you can do will stop him. You will only delay the inevitable."
Marilyn Matis in In Quiet Desperation

This last week when several Amish schoolgirls were murdered in Pennsylvania, I saw several writers comment on how sexual repression led the man to the unhealthy state of mind in which he could do such an atrocious thing. I agree that guilt about sexuality, especially when kept secret, can canker and fester and destroy a person. That's one reason I'm still blogging and working through this issue despite my previous sentiments about moving on, having broader goals, and focusing on different issues. This has been a tremendous outlet of emotions and thoughts and dialog that would otherwise be impossible. Getting it out there and talking about it has normalized my life in many ways.

Stuart, apparently, didn't really get his feelings normalized adequately. Not that he wasn't out to some friends and family who were available and willing to help, but he wasn't getting the depth and quality of attention he needed for his issues. Such depth may require intensive cognitive and behavioral therapy. It may require medications. And yes, it may require involuntary hospitalization. This is a good thing, my friends. It gets people the help they need and keeps them from making an irrevocable mistake like suicide. Whether he would hate his family for it is irrelevant. Whether it was necessary is all too clear in retrospect. Whether the suicide was inevitable is debatable (I don't ever believe that).

I've admitted multiple patients with suicidal ideation to the hosptial for observation recently. It's an illness that can be addressed. The reason suicide seems necessary to a person isn't for this circumstance or that situation, it's because there is a mental illness that must be addressed directly.

A close family member recently shocked us by shooting himself in the head. The warning signs had been there, but he was unwilling to voluntarily get the help he needed. Thankfully, he's doing well after several surgeries, and now he's finally getting the care he needs--both medical and psychiatric. There's nothing whatsoever to be ashamed of in that.

Whatever the stigma society assigns to mental illnesses--sustaining such epithets as psycho and crazy--they are no reason not to allow oneself to get the legitimate help that is available for real problems. It isn't simply "all in the head."


AttemptingthePath said...

I read what you wrote. and it is the truth. but in my experience with hospitalizing someone with suicidal thoughts--it does only delay the inevitable. when my brother was 16 he slit his arm open, he was put in a hospital....12 years late he finished what he started.

... maybe it's late and I'm identifying emotionally way too much than I should with this post...I knew my brother was using drugs again (a month before he died i tossed some needles he used, and cleaned up a binder he used to snort up some drugs.) I also walked into his room when he was crying that he just wanted to be finished. In the back of my mind I knew it was coming. and even though I miss him, i'm so glad he doesn't have to go through that pain anymore.

maybe this won't make sense to anyone else but me. but I feel like I know what they went through--to some extent.

-L- said...

This is a very interesting topic, but now I'm reluctant to discuss it much because I don't want to stir up anybody's painful feelings about suicides in their history.

I do feel a responsibility to people who read this blog, even though I try not to. I don't want to write something that will have a harmful effect on anyone. But I think this is a real issue that we can all benefit from discussing.

For those who have raw feelings about suicide, I recommend considering the value you might find in discussing it with a counselor. And I warn against reading anything further on the topic on the blogs or in the comments until it has been addressed in appropriate individual ways.

I would like to discuss it more if that would not be offensive. This post has been pretty clinical, yes, but how about another post on the spiritual aspects of suicide? Would that be too much?

Tolkien Boy said...

I would be interested to know your opinion on the spiritual aspects of suicide.

I don't think it would be too much.

Scot said...

Personally, I’d easily trust in your ability, L, to discuss it in an appropriate and considerate manner, and I’d like to hear more of your take. It’s definitively a topic of interest and great importance.

But I do doubt it can be done without the raw emotions. Stirring them up isn’t always a bad thing, but I can certainly understand feeling apprehensive.