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Why Suicide? An Interview with Eric Marcus

posted by Beyond Blue

Eric Marcus '09.jpg
Today I have the pleasure of interviewing New York Times bestselling author Eric Marcus on the important topic of suicide. Eric is the author of several books, including “Is It A Choice?, Making Gay History,” and “Together Forever.” He is also co-author of “Breaking the Surface,” the #1 New York Times bestselling autobiography of Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis. For more information, please visit: www.ericmarcus.com and www.whysuicidebook.com.

 

Question: Why did you write “Why Suicide?

Eric: When I started work on the original edition of “Why Suicide?” in 1987, I knew that I wanted to write the kind of book that I wish had been available to my mother when my father killed himself in 1970 so she would have known what to say a traumatized twelve-year-old boy. I also wanted to write the kind of book that would have been useful to me when I was 21 and just beginning to talk with a therapist about my dad’s suicide. I had so many questions and didn’t have a lot of answers. And I wanted to write the kind of book I could hand to my grandmother, who struggled for the rest of her life after my dad’s death with guilt and shame over his suicide. I also assumed that many people searching for answers about suicide have a short attention span like I do and preferred concise answers to their questions, which is why I wrote the book in a question and answer format and kept it short.

By the time I started work on the new edition of “Why Suicide?” in 2009, I’d unfortunately had more experience with suicide: my mother threatened suicide and had to be hospitalized and my sister-in-law attempted suicide and later went on to kill herself. Her shocking death was the inspiration for this new edition. So this second time around I had additional readers in mind. “Why Suicide?” now has a stronger focus on suicide prevention and the experiences of those who have lived through a suicide. Also, I like to think I approached the subject with more compassion and understanding than I did the first time, especially when it comes to dealing with people who are suicidal and the challenges of trying to help a suicidal person who doesn’t want help, which was very much the case with my late sister-in-law.

Question: Who is the book for?

Eric:Why Suicide?” is for anyone searching for answers about the subject of suicide, whether they’re wrestling with their own thoughts of suicide, dealing with a loved one who is suicidal or has attempted suicide, or is trying to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of a suicide. It’s a basic introductory book that covers just about every possible question someone might have and I thread my own experiences and the stories of the people I interviewed through the entire book so that every reader should find a person and/or experience she or he can relate to. It’s a book that will be of special interest to anyone who has lived through the suicide of a loved one because I devote fully half the book to that subject in a chapter called “Surviving Suicide: Coping with the Suicide of Someone You Know.”


why suicide cover.jpg

Question: What did you learn while working on the book?

Eric: I knew very little about suicide when I started researching the book, so I learned a lot. For example, I quickly learned that my experience wasn’t unique. More than three quarters of all Americans will be touched at some point in their lives by suicide, whether it’s the suicide of a friend, colleague, or family member. But there’s so much shame around suicide and so much stigma when it comes to talking about it that most people remain silent.

I also learned that when it comes to theories about suicide, whether we’re talking about explanations for why suicide rates are increasing or decreasing for a specific age group or why there are more suicides during the week than on the weekend, there is often conflicting information. There’s still a lot we don’t know. But above all, the most important thing I learned was that I wasn’t alone, which was a huge comfort. I thought that talking to other people who had been through the suicide of a loved one would be very, very difficult for me. And while it was often upsetting, there was something comforting about talking with people who had been through a similar experience.

Question: Is it easy for you to talk about the nature of your father’s death?

Eric: No, it’s never easy. But it’s gotten much easier over time because I’ve had so much practice and so many years of therapy. Still, there are rare occasions when I find myself getting emotional or I find I just can’t talk about it. Most memorably this happened a few years ago while we were on vacation in Mexico and made friends with a couple from Los Angeles. At dinner the second night, after we’d talked about everyone’s parents except for my dad, Molly said out of the blue, “Oh, we’ve never talked about your dad.” I was so caught off guard that instinctively–and, I think, out of embarrassment and fear and shame–I said, “My dad died young,” and changed the subject.

When we got back to our room after dinner my partner said, “What was that about?” He knew I felt strongly about the importance of being honest about what happened to my dad. I really couldn’t explain myself. I simply choked. So often when you disclose that a loved one died by suicide the conversation stops or people seem uncomfortable or they change the subject. So I always brace myself for the unexpected. When Molly caught me off guard I went into a defensive crouch without thinking.

So the next night at dinner, between courses, I apologized to Molly for being abrupt and changing the subject and then explained what happened to my dad and also explained that I’d written a book about suicide. Molly smiled and said that I’d have a lot to talk about with Tom, her husband, because his brother had taken his life, too. It turned out I was in very good and very supportive company and I would never have known it if I hadn’t “come out” about having had a suicide in my family. It would have been a missed opportunity.

Question: Why did your sister-in-law kill herself? How did you react?

Eric: My sister-in-law killed herself for the same basic reason that 90 percent of all people kill themselves. She was mentally ill. But of course her loved ones were left asking the same one-word question that just about everyone asks in the aftermath of a suicide: why? People who have lived through the suicide of a loved one are invariably hungry for answers to several key questions. Why did she do it? Why didn’t she come to us for help? What could I have done differently? Was it my fault? And on and on and on and on and on.

You can really make yourself crazy with the questions, especially since there are almost never satisfying answers. The “What if…?” and “If only…” questions are the worst. The biggest challenge I find is that when my mind wanders back to my sister-in-law’s suicide that I’m automatically trying to find a rational explanation for what she did. But you can’t find a rational explanation for an irrational act, so you wind up going in circles and exhausting yourself.

When I learned that my sister-in-law had killed herself I was shocked, but not surprised. She had attempted two years prior. But it was a very complicated situation because I felt it was my role to be a supportive spouse to my partner whose sister had just died, but given my history with suicide I was really struggling to just hold myself together. On top of that we were set to leave in two days on a long-planned trip to the Galapagos Islands to celebrate my 50th birthday. So instead of flying to Ecuador, we flew to the Midwest for a memorial service that my in-law family insisted had to be held immediately.

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned my sister-in-law’s name or mentioned the city where she lived. My in-law family is very unhappy with me speaking in any way about my sister-in-law and the nature of her death, so to protect their privacy I never identify her by name or talk about where she lived and died. My experience in this regard is not unique. In many families there are disagreements about how open to be about a loved one’s suicide. Given the work I do and my strong belief in the importance of speaking honestly about our experiences with suicide, it feels particularly awkward for me to not be completely open. If we can’t be open about our experiences we wind up reinforcing the stigma and shame that create such a burden for those left behind in the aftermath of a suicide. But I have to balance that belief with a respect for my in-law family’s wishes.

One of the things I did on the afternoon of the day I learned that my sister-in-law had taken her life was to trim a very high and slightly overgrown privet hedge in our backyard. In some ways I’m pretty typically male in my response to this kind of loss. I didn’t cry. I didn’t really want to talk. I just wanted to do something, but I was apparently more angry than I’d considered because by the time I got done with the hedge it was nothing but a row six-foot-tall naked stems and I was up to my knees in privet hedge branches. The hedge hasn’t yet come close to recovering, but it’s getting there.

Question: What do you say to a person who has lost someone to suicide?

Eric: It’s important to do something, whether you say it, write it, or do it. “I’m so sorry,” is a good start. A simple hug will also likely be welcome. A note. An offer to help, but if you offer to do something I suggest being specific, as in: “Can I baby-sit the kids?” “Can I make dinner for you one night this week?” “Can I pick your parents up at the airport?” If you’re going to offer to help I don’t think it’s enough to say, “Let me know if I can be of help.” People are often embarrassed to ask. 

There are also definitely things you shouldn’t say, like “I know exactly how you feel. My cat just died.” I’m not making this up; someone I interviewed for the book had this experience with a colleague when she returned to work after her sister’s suicide. Unless you’ve been through a suicide yourself, never say that you know how someone who has been through a suicide feels because you don’t. But if you’ve been through a suicide yourself, by all means share that fact if it seems appropriate. People also often feel compelled to share religious beliefs, as in, “I’m afraid he’s going to hell for what he’s done.” This is something to discuss with your priest or religious advisor, not the bereaved, unless they’ve raised the subject themselves and want to discuss it with you. 

In the case of a suicide, I think you can’t go wrong by sticking to the simplest gestures. The biggest mistake you can make is to pretend that nothing happened because the bereaved will take note and may find your failure to acknowledge their loss unforgivable.

Photo of Eric Marcus by Dixie Sheridan.

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  • Dianne

    My son committed suicide when he was 19 years old. This looks like a terrific book.

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  • human

    90% are mentally ill?You are a GIGANTIC dumbass!

  • Hugo Nogueira

    Thanks so much for the information about this book, which seems to be very good. I have other books by the same author about homosexuality, including one that uses the same question-answer format, which is nice. I’ve lost an uncle to suicide and because I’m bipolar suicide is always around the corner. Just the other day I was afraid a friend was contemplating suicide, and I decided to contact his family. I lost his friendship, because he felt invaded, but I couldn’t sit still, maybe this book has information to help in cases like this, I’m going to try to read it.

  • It is a Fact.

    @Human, severe depression is a form of mental illness. Would you not say that 90% of those who kill themselves are severely depressed? He’s not calling them mentally handicapped, he is calling them ill.
    From The National Institute of Mental Health: “More than 90 percent of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable mental disorder, most commonly a depressive disorder or a substance abuse disorder.” He didn’t pull the numbers out of his butt. They are real.

  • It is a Fact.
  • http://www.barbarabanfield.com Barbara Banfield

    Thanks for sharing on such a difficult issue. Something I need to learn more about for my work.

  • RK

    My elderly father killed himself 6 months ago and I’m reeling. Thanks for introducing me to the book.

  • Laina

    I cannot help but think that a great percentage of suicide is connected, directly or indirectly, to homosexuality. The confusion of it all would have to be disturbing to the individual, and to their parents, their ex spouses if they have married (as many many do), their children, etc., etc.
    If I had to guess the next up, aside from mental illness, it is just due to people that have been treated very cruely/indifferently by those they are close to and those that they have been good to.

  • mary

    @Laina – i just had to comment about your connection of suicide to being gay. i struggle with mental illness and i am gay and have been for a long time. yes, i have had to deal with internalized homophobia caused by living in a society that says i am wrong because i am gay, and externalized homophobia, but never did i think about killing myself because i am gay. now, if i hadn’t been raised in a liberal academic household that would be different.. there are documented cases of people raised in theologically conservative households who attempt and succeed at killing themselves, but these suicides could be prevented if society and religion were more accepting and truly following the word of God. no where in the bible does it say that being gay is wrong. you can refer to sodom and gomorrah all you want – but that is about rape – men raping men, it is not about consensual sex between two men. i can speak to this because i’m also a gay person who has come to liberal christianity later in life. i am a liberal presbyterian and am a part of a denomination that accepts me.
    now – as far as mental illness – that is what has caused me to attempt suicide three times. the suffering and pain caused by my mental illness – that is the difficult part. my church can handle me being gay, but my struggle with mental illness – oh heck no. someone has cancer in my church community they all jump, know what to do, but mental illness – they simply don’t know what to do. that has caused pain and when my illness came out of remission after i ‘d joined this particular church, the pain that that one community’s inability to deal with it has caused more pain than being gay ever did.

  • jellybean55

    My husband committed suicide in 2008. He suffered from depression & refused treatment. I didn’t learn until after his death that he had attempted suicide twice, about 20 years earlier. Depression played such a huge role in his death. I wish I had been more insistent about his seeking treatment. This is never an easy subject to discuss, so thank you for the great article. I’ll have to get this book.

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  • Sharon

    There is certainly a gap in publishing in regard to stories written by others who, like myself have been ‘left behind’. As a way of coping with the recent suicide of my husband, I have started a blog called ‘Those Left Behind’ and i’d certainly like to share stories. i hope this will continue to help me and others who have experienced a similar loss.
    http://wwwthose-left-behind.blogspot.com/

  • Keith John Paul Horcasitas, LCSW, MHA

    As noted, this is a very difficult topic. Here’s some reflections I’ve had about it:
    http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewshortstory.asp?AuthorID=82781&id=39641
    Suicide/Fall/Grief
    By Keith John Paul Horcasitas
    Monday, January 19, 2009
    Rated “G” by the Author.
    Fall, Grief, Counseling, Support, Volunteer Work, Suicide
    Fall/Grief
    As we are into the season of fall and the leaves are beginning to drop, I’m reminded of a poignant moment in my past. In 1981, before graduating from Loyola University in Social Work, I did not know what I really wanted to do next in my life. I had explored some work and volunteer opportunities before graduating and fortunately was accepted to participate in a year of volunteer work with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Southwest California; this is similar to doing the Vista version of the Peace Corps.
    In August of that year, I was assigned with 7 other like minded post graduates (2 other men and 5 women) from all around the country who wanted to “change the world,” to the Tulare, California community – in the San Joaquin Valley. I had never lived in a community setting like a fraternity, so this was something very new to me. We spent about 4 days in Orientation in San Jose with many others who were being assigned to other communities in the California area.
    The emphasis for us was to live simply and to be change agents for Christ in whatever ways we could through the human services programs we would be working in. My assignment was to help outreach to isolated elders in the area who were not accessing behavioral care services. We were not consecrated Catholic religious but all happened to be lay people of the same faith who sincerely sought to make a simple difference in the lives of the people we touched and whom we were blessed to serve.
    No sooner had we just gotten settled into our residence in the rural town of Tulare when we were faced with a crisis. Besides just getting to know each other, designate appropriate rooming, chores, etc., all of the sudden, Robbie received a shocking call from her home state of Connecticut: one of her classmates was reported to have committed suicide.
    As we gathered around Robbie and did the best we could, as new formed friends, to awkwardly extend our care and concern, the Holy Spirit inspired me with this poem, which I shared with her and the community:
    Fall has come, the leaves are scattered
    Sometimes it’s really scary, has it really mattered?
    Sometimes it’s really scary, why do I feel so shattered?
    One mere leaf has freely fallen to the ground
    Yet its single drop has caused the world to hear its sound
    One among many, what makes it my concern?
    Its life has touched my own and fostered what I yearn
    No I simply can’t go out and rake away
    The withered lifeless leaf that’s freely fallen down today
    But I can let it rest if I’m free to let it go
    Yet the freedom that sustains my own life at this point seems so low
    The harshness of winter looms on ahead
    The coldness is surely something that I dread
    But the warmth is there around you – you’re never all alone
    Loved ones are reaching out to comfort you at home
    Together we will grow and in our hearts we’ll know
    That love draws all together despite the changes in the weather
    And Spring brings forth our life-line, the trees, with leaves anew
    And each one’s so important, especially me and you
    And yes that leaf that freely fell will always be a part of you.
    Robbie and all of us struggled through that particular situation but found that the experience strengthened the united bond that we already shared. What had been a very difficult moment had actually helped us immensely then and many other times later on for each of us that year.
    In 2001, in order to keep up with my Social Work CEUs, I attended a professional workshop presented by the late Sr. Rita about grief counseling. In her presentation, she used examples from Leo Buscaglia’s classic fable, The Fall of Freddie the Leaf, which is a great resource for anyone dealing with grief. As noted by some author’s, this classic fable is, “Dedicated to all children who have ever suffered a permanent loss, and to the grown ups who could not find a way to explain it.” I couldn’t believe the way that the poem tied in so well with the book.
    Keith John Paul Horcasitas, LCSW, MHA, khorcasitas.yahoo.com, 1133 Knollhaven Drive, BRLA 70810.

  • Kathy Bratz

    I have struggled with sucidial thoughts and I do not believe I am mentally ill. I am tried, I am in ill health, huge financial issues and no support. It easy for others to judge you and say oh it could be worse….but I am telling that is one of the last things I want to hear, because then you are truly minimizing what I am going through. Chronic pain is very hard to live with, I also have a major migraine every day of my life. I cannot hold a job because I am ill so much and my family has grown tired of me being sick all the time. So I do think I understand why people go through with killing themselves.

  • Your Name

    It’s very shocking to learn thigs about suicide,suicide is not one good and healthy thing to know about,but it’s been happening and it’s very tragic.Suicide is the result of being in the state of hopelessness,faithlessness and absence of love totally in someone’s
    heart,soul or spirit,actually,i think suicide is when we let the devil rule over us.We need more effort to nourish our spirit with
    words of God,because only through His words will give us breath of life that comes from God’s spirit.Most importantly,we need to pray earnestly asking God to take over our problems for there’s nothing the devil can do when we allow God to work for us.
    thanks.

  • ann

    Yes I totaly understand what the one woman was saying. You are in so much pain you dont know what else to do i pray I ask god to show me. My son is toxic and he is taking me down with him .

  • dorothy

    I HAD THOUGHTS OF ENDING MY LIFE AFTER MY GRANDSON- DAUGHTER-IN -LAW WAS MURDERED I FELT THE HOPELESSNESS I STRUGGLE EVERY DAY BUT I COULD’NT TAKE MY LIFE BECAUSE I WOULD NOT WANT MY LOVED ONES TO BE HURT

  • Joe Simpson

    When talking about the subject of suicide we can not dismiss how important it is to have and maintain a relationship with our Lord God and His son, Christ Jesus. Society in general has too many stereotypes for the person who has suffered, and being one I think it is important for all to understand that taking ones own life should never be an option because it isn’t our life to take in the first place.
    That if we are currently suffering pain, physically and/or mentally it is because God is calling you to return to Him. He has a plan for everyone and suicide isn’t it. If you feel you are too weak to continue then seek help but do not give up!
    As the Creator of all things God wants everyone to have a good life so that they may be able to worship and glorify Him. In Deuteronomy 30:19 the word of God states, thus: “I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God’s blessing and God’s curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Choose life.” (Today’s English Version)

  • Kathy

    HI All..My brother and I were very close….he shot himself on a ferrry, fell into the water dead….that was two years ago..I am still in shock still grieving…still do not have the answeres….may read the book….the pain is always there..I got a letter from him the next day in the mail the next day as some of his friends did…it was just awful and I have not and do not expect to be the same ever again….I Loved him so..his last text message was to me..saying I am dead in the ocean..I am so sorry I love you sis…..and to my partner..he said..You will never forgive me for breaking my sisters heart..love her more then ever as she will need it more then ever…Suicide changed everything …MY brothers name was Robert…he was 54….

  • http://Help CJ

    I have so many health issues I don’t want to be here for any length of time complaining……….and that’s what I feel like I’m doing, complaining. I know people have it worse than me, and I know people who have it better than me…it doesn’t make me feel any different.
    I’m 49 years old. I have been married 30 years this month..
    At 27, I had a 3 and a 2 years old. My husband got into a hit and run motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from his chest down.
    I tried to “act” normal for my children. His family went crazy..
    He was in ICU for 5 weeks, and rehab for 8 months. When he came home, he freaked out by the way he had to live… he was a real macho biker guy…
    Anyway, I started having panic attacks….and I couldn’t sleep…
    needless to say, I have been on meds since then…we moved down south, and he befriended me for another woman…I kicked him out
    and he lived with the woman and her husband for 7 years…thru those years, I tried to go to college, my back went out…I have degenerating disc disease. I had surgery, went back to college to fast, and hurt my back again and had to quit..I went into a depression funk…gained 50 pounds and am now a human slug.
    I lost my looks, my house is a burden now, I can’t do a garden anymore…and so on and so on…
    my husband is suicidal and has every right to be…we are now raising 2 of our 4 grandchildren…we adopted the first one, and are in the process of adopting the 2 one….the house is full of tension always, and I feel like I’m in a giant whirlwind of crap…my neighborhood has changed a zillion times, because we are in an army town, never thinking about the turn over….
    I pray all the time…that’s what is keeping me even, but I get extremely down…
    Everyone told me to write a book…I wouldn’t know which part of my life I should write about…….
    Anyway, I feel quite doomed…I took the children to visit family in Virginia. We were there 11 days….we came back home and it feels like I never went away…
    How cruddy is that? I love when people tell me to snap out of it.
    I tell them to walk in my shoes for one day and see how they feel.
    I don’t know why I’m rambling. It feels good to write to someone that understands my pain.
    God bless everyone. We all deserve it. I just don’t get all the evil in the world…”Why don’t we all get along”
    Thanks for letting me ramble.
    Sincerely
    CJ

  • Lynn

    Kathy-
    I can sincerely say I understand how you feel.
    I’ve been dealing with the chronic pain for a several years now. Always so tired and always depressed- I feel like I have nothing accomplished. What’s worse is that Military Medical cannot figure out what is wrong with me. Just last week I broke down and cracked. The OBGYN doctor said there is nothing wrong with me. Even though I can’t get pregnant due to scars everywhere (they thought it was endometriosis, but then droped that idea), and I had my left tube and ovary removed. I’m 25, divorced twice (thats another long story), and nothing to show for it. The branch of service I chose, gave me my identity. It’s more than a job, its who I am. But because I cannot physically perform, I have been outcasted, and looked upon as useless. My unit is “tired of babysitting” me, and I am ” a burden”.
    Everything that I planed, never worked out. I wanted to settle down, have a family and just be happy. All my hopes, and my dreams of a normal life were shot- I was so close and it was taken away. I never thought that was ever a hard thing to ask for.
    Anyway, I can rant for days about everything wrong that has happened, and about the things that are happening now. I guess my whole point was to say Im sorry your going through this. I know it’s hard to even breathe sometimes, and the thought in having to end it all almost brings a sense of relief. There are times I try to be positive and even smile when something goes wrong. But then it gets worse- like life is one huge cruel joke, and I have been pegged to be the punch line. I’m tired, I’m sad, I’m angry…. But I go on. And I think you should hang in there too. Eventually it gets better…. You know how some people have it easier than others?- and yes I envy those individuals greatly- Do you truly believe they appreciate their lives? I mean think of it this way: without the bad you could never fully appreciate the good. Many take the simple things for granted, because its easily given to them. Someone like myself and you, when we do finally get that “gift” it grants us much more happines and pleasure. It fills all those empty and broken parts inside of us.
    Its hard, and your worn out, but its worth it. Keep going down that path called life. Even if you’re draging yourself along, your still moving. I think its normal wanting to quit. Wanting to end it all (its a lie if someone says they have never thought about commiting suicide). But I guess, even though I feel the way I do, I have a little bit of hope to believe that eventually it will get better.
    Lots of love :)
    You’re not alone… Sometimes that helps. I hope I helped even jus a bit. Believe me, if you have made it this far, I’m sure you have the strength to keep going. Take care :)

  • http://audrinna-diary.blogspot.com/ Janice

    I have attempted suicide befor at 29 and I’m 46 still thinking about all the time

  • Dena

    I definitely know that Jesus is the only one who can truly help us with our needs. I believe he heals and also uses doctors and medicine. Please pray and seek what God wants you to do. Please know that you are not alone. God loves you very much and wants to help you. Reach out to others and let them know you need help.

  • Abbie

    Far too easy to tell people to “get help”. It is not that simple…a pat answer like that does not work. True depression actually hurts everywhere physically and nothing takes it away – its not like having a bad day or a bad week – its a whole way of life – and unless you have been there do not judge or prescribe religious cures. I am a suicide survivor of 12+ years and yet this past year I have fought every single day to stay alive because I do not want to hurt like this. Life has been very difficult always, abuse,rape, pain,PTSD,the loss of 3 babies, a sister dying at 26 from malpractice, bad auto accident resulting in chronic pain for 20 years, depression so bad unable to concentrate and loss of job, misdiagnosis of a rare disorder resulting in permanent nerve damage and more pain. I have faith this is not all there is to life and there is a better future ahead but its not in this life here. So try to understand people…its not going away for me – meds have not helped,talking about it in expensive therapy just makes me more depressed – the darkness never ends. So when someone wants to move on to a new plane where there is light forever can you blame them?

  • Rondee

    The world is soo messed up because people are rarely supportive. It takes too much energy and time for me to always be at War with non compassionate people. It will be a battle to the death with these type of people.

  • Christina Stokes

    I had attemted suicide more than I remember..I was in the Army and was raped by a superior and did what I had to do to report it.But anyone who knows the system for rape victims in the military knows that it just gets covered up and the victim gets in trouble.Well I just couldn’t handle being the victim and being punished for reporting it.I had cut my wrist twice that day.I lived and was again punished for doing that..Then I was sent to another unit and was raped yet again and the same thing was happening to me.I went to counceling but was still so messed up.I took all the pain meds they gave me at the hospital and still woke up the next morning on sucide watch.After being sexually assualted 3 more times and getting injured in Iraq I left the military.Sadly I was so lost.I had no idenity.The military was all I knew and loved and I didn’t know how to be a civilan.I ended up in a lot of pain from Iraq and was put in a wheelchair.I have one daughter and I wasn’t able to be a good mother to her.This put me in a deep depression and I was on deathly doses of Fentanyl for my pain.This made me be in bed for the next 5 years in which I attempted suicide to not have to bear this pain any longer.My marriage was broke.My husband no longer wanted to be intimite with me.I lost everything.But this January I met my bestfriend who showed me how to live again.He woke me up from deaths bed.He healed my soul and now most of my physical pain is gone and I’m no longer depressed.I’m going through a divorce and my husband just don’t understand that I can not stay with him if I want to live.But I’m so strong with my bestfriends help and I’m so ready to live again.I’m thankful to God for not allowing me to die.I now know that he has bigger and better plans for me and I will make him proud..I found light..I found true love..I found my reason to live again..Thank you so much Richard.

  • Shari S.

    Jimmy shoes…..why dont you go prey on your own.This is serious stuff and you want to advertise your overpriced ugly product in the middle of it!?!?!?What an inappropriate thing to do.I hope your buisiness goes under@!

  • carol graham

    I lost my husband and son to sucide. I will never experience any thing so bad and so hard. It just happened nov 28, 2009. My family and I am still having a hard time. I will never understand and get
    over this.
    Thank you for listening.

  • Belinda

    In almost every post, although the comments differ what I felt was pain. This sort of pain is a pain that cannot be understood unless your life has been touched by this sort of darkness. I lost two people whom I considered my soul mates to “death by suicide”. When it happened, I did not know how I could/would survive such devastating pain. At the time, religion was not an option, I blamed God, and as someone else stated, those who have not experienced it really cannot be that support you feel you need.
    I found my release by finding a way to live/walk through the pain, I became involved with the Out of the Darkness Overnight, an annual walk that is for survivors, friends, family member and those who truly are seeking to make a difference to how the tragedy has touched their lives. I can’t say for all this will be the answer but if you are interested, they are always looking for more people to be involved.
    Just know out there somewhere really are people who care, people who need you and if you work at it long enough some of that pain will ease…never go away but you will be able to view each new day as another chance for the pain to be a little less painful. “Don’t give up five minutes before the miracle”

  • Kay

    To “Your Name” and the others that say you simply need to have faith in God and the devil cannot touch you… What happened to Job in the Bible? I know God tested him to the extreme, but he had faith to the extreme at the same time. Can you tell me God did not allow Satan to touch him or that he does not allow bad things to happen to people. God always ANSWERS prayers, the answer is just not always what we WANT it to be. The answer and outcome many times is to test us and our faith. I am a Christian, and I have been for 28 years. I have been suffering from major depression and suicidal thoughts for 10 of those years. You have to be very careful not to make overcoming those suicidal thoughts sound so simple. Sometimes life is just so overwhelming that you see no other way out, even though you believe in God. I have still not made it through, but still pray that I will.

  • Todd Jones

    I believe in order to truly understand suicide you must carefully evaluate the person / circumstances under which they exit this life. Although i have never attempted suicide the thought has crossed my mind more than once. I believe each one of us has a breaking point at which rational thinking is simply no longer possible. We are all victims of life, and though not always sure of the patch i am taking i am confident in my ability to get there. My lifes work has been in social services: domestic violence, sexual assualt, homeless vets, hiv education and prevention, and GED education. I found through working with these victims a healing if you will, or so i thought. In my infinite quest to save the world, i had forgotten to save myself. I can understand how one might want to end it all at times, but that the true desolation is not just about ourselves but rather the ones we love the most we leave behind. I have battled many things in my life, some ive won, and some ive lost. Nonetheless, i cant imagine leaving my family and friends with the guilt and desolation of my loss of life. Most people remember how they met you, few remember your life, but everyone remembers your exit… My only real pearls of wisdom are this: Find someone or something that makes you happy and let it become your nourishment for life. Shift focus from your own depression into venues that require you to be more empathic in your day to day life. Meet your challenges with resistance and ressurect that which sparks tenancity in yourself. Mia Farrell once said ” Life is not about winning, its about loosing, Just how gracefully one can do it !!!

  • Your Name

    I have attempted suicide several times. The last time was nearly successful. Except I left explanation voicemails for each of my children — an attempt to comfort them in advance. Unfortunately one came home from work early that day. If she had come home at the usual time, I wouldn’t be here.
    People say that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It’s been eight years. I promised my children I would not try again, so I live in hell.

  • Maxine

    I know your pain all too well Your Name. I fight it daily, I want so bad to die and not hurt no more. I just want peace for once in my life. I had a great childhood until my Dad died at 14. I think I have pretty much messed everything up since then with the exception of my beautiful 15 year old. If it wasn’t for her I would find definitely do it. Hang on we have to for our kids. Oh yeah, I do believe in God, go to church and very few people know what I go through daily. Take care and God Bless you and your family.

  • Kriket

    I lost my son 10 years ago at the age of 19 to suicide and I still ask “why”…….I miss him so much as we were so very close. The pain that is left behind surpasses any pain I have every felt. I have other children as well, and his twin, were so very affected by this. I believe in God and have faith, but I wrestled with thoughts myself when this happened. It never goes away, but with God’s grace and help, I can live each day knowing that I will again be reunited one day with him.

  • Your Name

    I also believe in God. I do not blame him for anything that has happened. The choices were mine — except for the parents.
    I pray that my beautiful grandchildren to not inherit this depression. I know that my parents both suffered and so does their mother. Although, thankfully my daughter is in better shape than I ever was.

  • Your Name

    Kriket, I am so sorry. All I can say is that at times the pain is just too much to endure. That’s what suicide is to me, an end of pain.

  • Your Name

    How do you help a love one that says they want to commit suicide? My husband for 6 years have said that he wants to end his life. Its very hard on me as a wife to listen to him say this just about every day. What are solutions? I tell him that he needs to see a therapist and he says nothing is wrong with me. It has grown us apart in our marriage. He has left on several occassions and I have let him come back. Its a lot to deal with especially when you dont know how to help that person. I pray everyday that GOD will deliver him from those words or thoughts he has to commit suicide. Any help is appreciated. A wife looking for answers. May GOD bless all of you that have experience a suicide of a love one.

  • Mary Olivia

    How can we be sure this Earthly pain will end with the act of suicide?? Maybe it would open a door for a new pain much worse than what I feel today…..
    Thoughts of suicide consume me everyday….it prevents me from living. I am so afraid, afraid to live, afraid to die………..So here I sit in wonderment of suicide.

  • Blanche

    I just finish reading Eric Marcus Interview. I can’t stop crying!! I will buy his book WHY SUICIDE!! It may help me with my troubled mind

  • Your Name

    i am one of the many who have attempted many times to end it. i suffer from ptsd due to sexual abuse growing up. no one helped me. i try telling people and was called a liar. i have been in therapy for years. i can say that now i believe that god didnt take me because i have something i need to do before i can go. i no longer think of suicide. i pray alot and still have my sessions with my worker. and thank god i am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

  • DARLENE MCCARTHY

    ON FEB 20 2010, I WOKE UP TO MY SISTER IN LAW LOOKING FOR MY HUSBAND (HER BROTHER). COULD NOT FIND HIM INSIDE, SO I SAID GO OUT BACK ,JOHN SOME TIMES SLEEPS IN HIS CAR WHEN HE IS UP SET. WE BOTH WENT OUT BACK ,WOW HE WAS LAYING IN THE FRONT SEAT OF HIS CAR ,THE GARDEN HOSE WAS IN THE BACK WINDOW LEADING TO THE EXHAUST . I TURNED THE CAR OFF , I SEEN A LETTER NEXT TO HIM, TO THE KIDS IT SAID “TELL THE KIDS I LOVE THEM AND IM SORRY” DAD. THAT DAY WILL BE IN MY MIND FOREVER, I DID NOT WANT TO GIVE HIS CLOTHES AWAY , SO A FRIEND OF MINE TOLD ME THAT I SHOULD MAKE A QUILT , SO I HAVE STARTED A QUILT FOR MY DAUGHTER ,IM NOT SURE HOW TO ACT OR HOW LONG TO CRY. LIFE HAS TO GO ON . MY KIDS AND I ARE CLOSER NOW , THEY MAKE SURE IM OK . I WOULD NEVER WANT THEM TO BE WITH OUT ME .THANKS

  • RIZA

    i was in high school when my brother took his life. confusion and shame overwhelms me. no amount of pacifying words can erase the feelings especially when two other adult sisters did the same thing. i’m 46 now.

  • Pili

    Heh, the ones who asked “why he/she comitted suicide?” are ALWAYS the one who invalidate their relatives’ and friends feelings: “why are you complaining? You have a good family, intelligence, a job, [add whatever else it's supposed to make a person happy by itself]“. “What? Were you raped or something? Then don’t make dramas” “What you need is to have God in your heart”

  • Cris

    My husband committed suicide on March 12. My 9 year old daughter found him but told me he was asleep with a gun. Nobody understands why because he was always so happy and friendly. We know he was depressed about work but we had been in that situation before. We are having a hard time understanding. I am going to look for the book so maybe it will help me.

  • http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/108725/how_to_help_your_teen_deal_with_a_friends.html?cat=25 Stephanie Mayberry

    Suicide has touched our family several times. It is so devastating and the healing is so long.

  • indy

    Wow ,pili,kinda harsh.
    My father committed suicide 9yrs ago,some family members still dont like to talk about it there was many mixed feelings.but few in the family actualy knew the total events that lead up to the mental breakdown,because of the pain he went thru ,part of me felt like at least hes not hurting anymore,but then ,a part of says if i only would have done things differantly .honsty is very important and differant situations in life happen and we just have to learn to deal with them ,at times i still cry ,and there’s times i smelt his scent around me.denial is the worst thing to do, yes life goes on .hold on to good memories you have.dont let the selfish act committed ,be your last thought of he/she.i had 26 yrs with my father and glad for that.

  • DESPERATE HOUSE WIFE

    I want to suicide because im feel alone. i have son but he love his father more. im a wife with passive husband, passive to increase family economic, passive to lead the family. my family husband never like me and pretend that i am none. i see this family not have good future. i cant take my sick son to the doctor without my parents help by pay the bill. many bill havent pay yet untill now. if i cant gather with my husband, my sons never love me, whats the reason i have to live ?

  • bigamber

    SUICIDE….Been there and survived…It’s like being in a very dark room,every wall is a reason not to find the door.
    You don’t want help because the pain of living is so great, that the
    dieing would allow you to finally rest.
    The toiling that goes on in the mind is so crazy making that you feel like it showing to all that you live with and everyone eles in the world.
    The burden that you feel is so great,you want to make everyone else’s life easier.
    Trying to end my life was much easier then the hard work that it would take to find the door to that very dark room.
    I almost made my escape,but for the doctor’s determition to keep
    me alive….So here I am still living. 19 years later.
    I have a life worth living for. Every morning I wake up and I know
    I’m not going to miss whats waiting for me.
    The blues never really goes away, But I would rather keep trying
    then to give in……To it helps to make a promise to someone to tell them when you start to feel those emotions coming on.
    I think it was John Wayne that said “That dieing is easy,Living is the hard part,but well worth it”
    The most shame that is felt is by the person that attempts and
    Survives it.
    There are so many reasons to stay alive, just as many to make the
    the no so great escape,But remember the love that you we will miss out on….and seek out help and love yourself.

  • Irma

    My son committed suicide in 03′ he was 22 yrs old, and it is still very hard on me. The whys, and the what could haves still linger and the pain is still so deep, it eases but never goes away. We miss him….

  • http://www.organelle.org organelle

    The idea that 90% of suicides are the result of ‘mental illness’ is utterly absurd. When I heard this author state that opinion as fact, he lost -all- credibility in my eyes. The reason for a good 55% of suicides is administrative and interpersonal neglect. What I mean is that individuals are repeatedly victimized by their cultures (which usually charge them for this privilege) and are then ‘discarded’ when the damage becomes too severe to negotiate.
    Our culture is hateful, abusive, fascistic, and over-amped with knowledge-experts who are lying to us to sell their media. Our government and institutions are catastrophically corrupt, and torture us, as it has for a good 20 years, charging us constantly for this.
    In such a situation, without allies or hope of repeal — many people make permanent decisions. It’s not surprising, and it sure isn’t a sign of ‘mental illness’. What we have with this author, is, unfortunately, a pet idea he wants to sell. While suicide and ‘mental illness’ may have high correlations statistically, this is not evidence of cause. And usually, what caused the mental illness was an irresolvable conflict between a human person, and institutions of various kinds which exist primarily as parasites, predators, and other threat — nearly always masquerading as heroes.

  • Susan

    I understand that suicide might be caused by some mental illness but I totally disagree that it is a selfish act committed (as someone said above). It’s not selfish at all. Who wants to be in this dark place?! Some people feel because of thier illness it would be better for all if they opted out. I think one who contemplates suicide is hurting so bad inside that we cannot see or comprehend it. The pain can be unbearable! AND you can’t “just shake it off” or “snap out of it”.
    I too have been there and on one attempt I was angry that the doctors brought me back and that I woke up alive.
    I’ve had a pretty good life these last several years but suicide thoughts still creep in every so often. We often feel like “what is wrong with me” and why do I get these feelings.
    They try to make it go away but if it doesn’t I guess they get rid of it by suicide. I don’t believe you will go to hell if you don’t injure or kill anyone else in the process. I believe God will hold you in His arms and take all the pain away.

  • ann

    I read that suicides suffer from inner devestation, feeling utterly out of inner resources to cope with the problems and pains of living. That resonates with me. Sometimes it really doesn’t matter whether you have outside help, or what is going on, or how relatively bad the circumstances are or aren’t; if you don’t have the inner resources to cope, you just don’t.
    After I developed a personal relationshiip with God, Who, according to His word, is “always with me,” I learned to lean on Him and never felt resourceless, or suicidal, again. I thank God that was willing to give Him a try.

  • Rev. Tom Chopp

    As a medical chaplain, who has walked with patients, who have attempted to take their own life…
    I believe that the act of suicide is not a conscious choice–it’s a
    response from that inner voice of deception–“that this painful period in my life is my journey–not just a single event.” I believe that the person is deceived into thinking that death is better than life.

  • Viqueen

    At the very least, most comments here don’t condemn the hope-challenged souls who see life so darkly. I am one of them and don’t want to be. How do you change something so fatalistic, something that seems to seep from the marrow of your bones? Knowing God hasn’t removed this curse. So what then?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Painless

    I have read thru this and find it to be filled with ignorant babbling. I can’t see that any of you have any understanding of suicide and why one would choose it. Irma, I am sorry for your loss. Don’t blame yourself. There is nothing you could do. I know. I have a family, I have NO mental illness and in fact I have a 126 IQ. Being smart doesn’t change a damn thing. I have depression, I fight it always and I am tired of it. It comes back no matter what. Having been on the verge of pulling a trigger myself I know. YOU GET TIRED OF IT COMING BACK. IT DOESN’T GO AWAY. I don’t believe in attempted suicide. Unless someone bursts in and knocks the gun out of your hand. If you want to do it….you will do it. You won’t swallow some fucking pills 5 minutes before someone comes home. You won’t swerve into a guard rail with your seat belt on and knowing your car has airbags. Nope! I’ll tell you how someone that really wan’t to end it does it. You leave a note, you go someplace where the kids won’t be the first to find you, and you get it over with. It’s that damn simple. Everything else is bullshit.

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