Copycat Suicide

By N.J. Lindquist:

Please don’t allow the suicide of someone you admire or care about to lead you to choose a copycat suicide.

 

Image from Wikipedia of Mindy McCready

Image from Wikipedia

When I read last week about the death of country singer, Mindy McCready, I can’t say I was surprised. I knew that her current boyfriend (the father of her 10-month-old son) had died only a few weeks earlier, and that his death was being looked on as a probable suicide. I have to admit that when I first heard of his death, I had a feeling in my gut that hers would be next.

As a fan of country music, I’ve long been aware of Mindy, and really enjoyed some of her songs, especially “Guys Do It All the Time.” But I was also aware of the roller-coaster life she’s led, including her upbringing and connection to a Pentecostal church; her graduation from high school at age 16; her move to Nashville to pursue her dream; and her relationship with married baseball pitcher, Roger Clemons (when she was 18 and possibly younger).

I was also aware of her parents’ divorces and remarriages; her various relationships with men; her two children, her battle with addictions and her earlier attempts at suicide. It almost seemed as if an early death would be the inevitable conclusion.

I feel so sorry for Mindy and her family, and in particular for her two young sons. But my greatest concern is that no one else will copy what she did.

I remember years ago meeting with a teenager I’ll call Debbie who had been cutting herself regularly for a long time, but had recently made several attempts to commit suicide. As we talked about Debbie’s life and her frustrations, she began to cry and whispered the name of a male singer who had recently died from what was being called suicide. Apparently Debbie was a huge fan, to that point that she idolized him, and she was feeling the need to follow him, even in this.

The fact that Debbie’s attempts at suicide hadn’t been successful told me that she probably didn’t really want to kill herself. But that doesn’t mean she couldn’t have succeeded. She was fortunate that her mother had been in the house each time and found her before it was too late.

As I believe was the case with Mindy, there were things in Debbie’s past that made her hate herself and her life—things that were at the root of the cutting and the spiral her life was in—things she couldn’t just push into a dark corner of her mind and ignore. But at this point, the impetus for her suicide attempts wasn’t as much about her personal issues as it was about the very real fact that her idol had done it.

The idea of killing yourself may not come from a celebrity; it might be because a partner or friend does it, as in Mindy’s case; or a family member.

If you’re thinking about committing suicide because someone else has done it, consider this: Your life is too important to become a footnote to someone else’s life.

What you can do:

  • Don’t keep your dark thoughts to yourself. Find someone you can talk to about how you’re feeling and why you feel a strong connection to the person who has died.
  • Look for positive things you could do to help the person’s family and friends deal with the pain suicide leaves behind.
  • Make a list of things you could do to help preserve the memory of the person who has committed suicide so that others will remember the good times and not just focus on the circumstances of the death.
  • If you continue having suicidal thoughts, see a doctor or a counselor and tell them exactly what is troubling you.

 

Overcoming Grief: Plan to Live!

One way to help overcome grief is to plan to live–one day at a time.

children walking down a road     In this series 10 Things I’ve Learned  About Grief” (from the book Dear AmericaI share my own story of loss and grief.  The tenth thing I learned (see the first eight here) about grief is this:
     #10: Plant bulbs: plan to live!
     Okay, maybe you don’t garden, but here’s what I mean: The Saturday after the Attack on America, I took my radio into the garden to stay abreast of the latest news as I planted fall bulbs for spring flowers.
     As talk shows discussed possibilities of future terrorist attacks, biological and chemical warfare, and other possible horrors, the thought suddenly occurred to me that I may not be here next spring to see the very tulips I was planting.
     After all, those people who boarded planes or who went to work at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and New York police and fire stations that Tuesday morning fully expected to be here that afternoon, let alone next spring. Will I still be here? I wondered. Will our society still be here? Will our nation still be here?
     Maybe I shouldn’t even bother planting, I thought. I paused for the briefest of moments.
     No, I determined, I am going to plant these bulbs. I am planting them in faith, expecting to be here next spring to see the flowers.
     I planted the bulbs.
     Whatever it is you love to do, make plans to do it-next month, next season, next year. With God’s help, determine to survive. Trust God to carry you through whatever this life dishes out. He won’t let you down.  (Excerpt from Dear America )
     “Lessons From Grief: Living Is About Dying” is an article by Sabrina Beasley who lost her husband suddenly in a car accident but found something to look forward to. She writes:
“As for me, brushing this closely with death has awakened me spiritually. I can see how short my time on this earth is. Like [the apostle] Paul, I praise God that it’s short. I can’t wait to know the Lord face to face, but for the sake of the dear lost souls who walk hopelessly around me, I have resolved to do everything I can to spread the Good News [of Salvation in Jesus Christ] for as long as I am alive.”
     When losing a loved one makes you want to die, do something you love. Create something to look forward to. Find for yourself a reason to live. Your loved-one would want you to live. And even if you think differently, many others in your life know you, love you, and want you to live. God has a purpose for you, and He wants you to live.
     Through this inspiring video,  “The Call” by Celtic Woman,hear God call you to something great for the rest of your life:
 

New Normal: New Hope After Trials

By Jeenie Gordon:

This excerpt, written by Jeenie Gordon (licensed marriage and family therapist) was taken from Too Soon to Say Goodbye, Healing and Hope for the Suicide Victims and Survivors, and used by permission from New Hope Publishers.

Once you have gone through this gut-wrenching painful cycle, you will establish a ‘new normal.’ You will again feel hope.
Image: anekoho / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: anekoho / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As a therapist, I often tell my clients about the concept of “old normal versus new normal.”

Life has been going on in a normal manner – ups and downs, little annoyances, and joys – the usual stuff. Then disaster strikes and throws us smack dab in the middle of agonizing pain. During the time of mourning, we feel abnormal. Nothing makes sense, we don’t care about life. Nothing brings joy. Grief has us in a vise grip, with unyielding heavy chains surrounding our hearts and minds.

I have told many clients:

“If you weren’t feeling abnormal during this tragedy, then I’d worry about you. This is normal for what is currently happening in your life.

“Once you have gone through this gut-wrenching painful cycle, you will establish a ‘new normal.’ You will again feel hope, be able to laugh, and enjoy life. The old normal is gone forever, but a new one will replace it.

“A word of caution: There will always be residual pain the rest of your life. However, it will no longer control and suffocate you. Emotional health can and will be achieved and you will be able to deal with the residual hurt.”

God certainly has a purpose for us and for all the things that happen in our lives. However, we may never fully understand what those purposes are while we’re on earth. It’s not that God doesn’t want us to know, but we are probably incapable of understanding because of our limited, finite minds.

Consider a two-year-old who sticks a fork into an electrical outlet. The parent grabs it away, yet does not try to explain to the toddler the dangers of electricity. At that age he could not grasp the concept.

Perhaps God withholds the reason trauma has occurred in our lives, not because He wants to hide something from us, but because our minds are unable to comprehend. Someday, when we see Him in His majesty and glory, we will fully understand.

Grieving in a Different World: I Want to Kill Myself

By Dianne E. Butts:

When grieving a loved one, it can be easy to hate your new circumstances and even think, My world is so different, I want to kill myself.  Here’s hope.

 

Image: Classical Sunrise by Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Classical Sunrise by Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In this series 10 Things I’ve Learned  About Grief” (from the book Dear AmericaI share my own story of loss and grief.  The ninth thing I learned (see the first eight here) about grief is this:

 #9: Your whole world is different, but that doesn’t mean you will be sad forever. 

We talked in Grief Lesson #8 about how grief can seem to go on forever. I mentioned that many people grieve for a full two years. I wish to clarify what I mean. I know a woman who lost her husband two and a half years ago. Recently I overheard her talking with a friend and she said that people tell her it will get better but she still misses him and she doesn’t expect it will ever get better.

I felt guilty thinking perhaps I was one of those people telling her it would get better.

The other woman said she had lost her husband over a decade ago, she still misses him terribly, and then she told my friend she was right: she will never get over it and it will never get better.

How sad!

When I say grief last for two years, I’m not saying at the end of two years you won’t grieve anymore or feel pain or miss your loved one! Have you ever hit your thumb with a hammer? Or done something else physically painful? With the kind of pain that takes your breath away? At least for a little while, you can’t speak. You can’t express anything but the pain. You can’t move, except to hold whatever hurts and hang on. We learn that if you hang in there, you’ll get your breath back. That’s what I’m talking about.

I’m not saying the pain goes away. I’m not suggesting you won’t miss him or her anymore. Your life has changed and it will never be the same again. But the pain will ease gradually, and after two years you should be able to breathe again. You should be functioning again. If you’re not, you need to seek out help.

Your grief will not last forever. After the death of her husband, I once heard a woman ask her friend, “Will I ever laugh again?”

Her friend wisely and immediately answered, “Yes. YES!

This article “Living Through Grief” on CBN.com has some helpful information about the steps of grief that we normally experience. It also lists three steps to recovery: Grieve, Believe, and Receive. The article offers “Scriptures that can bring hope, strength and peace” and tips for “Helping Others Through Grief.”

Don’t let thoughts linger in your mind that make you think terrible thoughts like I want to kill myself. Don’t give up. Hang in there. It does get easier.

Video: Listen to this beautiful, hope-filled song performed by Lynda Randle: “I’m Free.”

May you find freedom from your grief.

Read other articles on this site by Dianne E. Butts HERE.

 

Filling the Void When My Son Died

By Janet Perez Eckles:

A mother’s grief knows no bounds with the loss of a child, especially to murder. Only God’s love can bring true healing and fill that terrible void.

 

Image: stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Looking back at the night in that emergency room when the doctors walked in and asked, “Are you the parents of Joe Eckles?”

I jumped to my feet. “Yes, where is he? How is he? When can we take him home?”

Those questions carried my fear that something awful had happened when we received the call that he was wounded. But nothing, nothing, no amount of faith, knowledge of bible verses, of years of attending church could have prepared me to receive the doctor’s words that shook my senses.

“Your son has not survived the twenty-three stab wounds.”

Emotions? Feelings? None made sense. No mother can begin to comprehend the horror and grief that slices the heart.

Anguish jabbed at me when my son died: thoughts that I’d never be able to live carrying that pain. I’d never be able to face a world without my Joe. Weeks dragged back with sleepless nights and with days that made no sense.

And one dark afternoon, as I held his football jersey and pressed it against my chest, I realized that the void he left in my heart, my life and in our family was what ached the most.”Lord,” I cried out. “Will you fill this emptiness that sears in me?”

In the midst of my sobs, God’s voice whispered a question, one I’d heard many times before. But now it had a different message for me:

”Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” Romans 8:35.

I had experienced the sword of pain. But I lifted my head, wiped one more tear, and looked up. I chose to receive Christ’s love to fill the void the love for my son had left. I embraced Christ’s love to soothe the bleeding wound in my heart. And it would be God’s love that would touch the heartache and begin the healing.

Ten years have gone by since that day when my son died. And  looking back, I think of many who want to know how to commit suicide, how to end it all, how they can go on living when the anguish feels too much to endure, I understand.

But now I also comprehend that God’s healing is found in the love He offers, in the promise He makes, and in the hope that soothes each wound.

See more articles and videos by Janet Perez Eckles HERE, including how she not only lost her son, but also faced her husband’s unfaithfulness and the loss of her sight. Janet continues to rest in God’s arms and rejoice in Him.

How to Help a Friend Who’s Lost a Loved One to Suicide

Helping a friend who’s lost a loved one from suicide can be difficult. Words can leave people encouraged, or unintentionally inflict additional pain.
But don’t let your fear of saying the wrong thing keep you from reaching out.

 

Image: David Castillo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How we face a crisis often depends on what kind of support we receive. What not to do is as important as what to do when a friend has lost a loved one from suicide. Here are suggestions from people who have been there.

Don’t assume marriage relationships are fine. Two drowning people cannot save each other. In the case of a loss of a child, gently ask your friend how their marriage is holding up. You may be the one to help a grieving couple seek appropriate counseling.

Avoid clichés. “God must have needed another angel,” is not only unbiblical but reduces God to a needy, selfish deity. It’s better to say, “I’m sorry.”

Resist saying, “At least your loved one is in a better place.” Saying at least insults the griever by minimizing their pain.

* Listen if someone wants to talk about the loss, but never pressure. Leave the door open for conversation and reminiscing by asking, “How are you?”

Don’t think it’s too late to offer support. Grief can be a lengthy process. Long after others have moved on, you may be the perfect one to encourage someone who is still sad.

Don’t try to distract the griever by keeping them busy. Unless asked, don’t clean out articles that belonged to the one who died. Grief cannot be avoided; it must be walked through. And grief has its own timetable.

*Don’t say, “Call if I can do something.” They won’t. Instead, offer something practical. “I am going to the store. What can I pick up for you?”

 

PLEASE

PLEASE, don’t ask me if I’m over it yet.

I’ll never be over it.

PLEASE, don’t tell me she’s in a better place.

She isn’t here with me.

PLEASE, don’t say at least she isn’t suffering.

I haven’t come to terms with why she had to suffer at all.

PLEASE, don’t tell me you know how I feel.

Unless you have lost a child.

PLEASE, don’t ask me if I feel better.

Bereavement isn’t a condition that clears up.

PLEASE, don’t tell me at least you had her for so many years.

What year would you choose for your child to die?

PLEASE, don’t tell me God never gives us more than we can bear.

PLEASE, just say you are sorry.

PLEASE, just say you remember my child, if you do.

PLEASE, just let me talk about my child.

PLEASE, mention my child’s name.

PLEASE, just let me cry.

 

By Rita Moran

Compassionate Friends

I Want to Die, I Miss Him So Much

By Dianne E. Butts:

 If your grieving reaches a point where you consider taking your own life, you need help–do seek that.

Your pain will eventually ease, despite how terrible as it feels right now.

 

I am convinced that the grief and loss we feel when a loved one dies is in direct proportion to how much we loved that person and how big of a hole they left in our lives.

When we are grieving, it’s easy to feel like we will never feel any better, that we’ll be grieving for forever. As you miss that person, do you find yourself thinking, “I want to die?”

In the article series “10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief (from Dear America), we’ve been exploring what  I learned after losing my father, brother, two grandparents and a friend, all when I was a teen. I hope what I’ve learned will help you.

Here’s the eighth thing I’ve learned about grief:

Somewhere I read the average person grieves for a full two years after the death of a loved one, so give yourself plenty of time. However, if you or someone you love is struggling after that, consider asking for help.

I remember as a teenager how losing my Dad ripped the ground from under my feet. Most of my friends didn’t understand (although some did because they had lost a parent too).

A couple years later when my brother was killed in a motorcycle accident, a friend told me I needed to “get over it” and “move on.” When she told me that, we hadn’t even had the funeral yet! It took me many years to realize that she meant well; she really was trying to help.

But the fact is we can’t rush grief any more than we can turn it off or on. Grief has a mind of its own and it will take the time it needs to work itself out.

If you try to rush through grief, you may enter into denial. But grief will come back to you sooner or later.

If you try to ignore grief, it might hide for a while, but it will be back to visit.

If you get frustrated with grief and think that it is taking too long, or if you go the other direction and hang on to your grief because it’s all you have left of the person you love, you may be headed for trouble. That kind of trouble can possibly lead to thinking about suicide.

Give yourself, of someone you know who is grieving, a proper amount of time. But if the grief hangs on, seek help.

Of course you need not wait. You can take advantage of organizations and services that can help.  To find them, check with the funeral home, a church, a counseling center, your doctor, the phone book, or the internet.  One reputable organization is New Life Ministries (1-800-NEW-LIFE) www.newlife.com.

If you’re thinking “missing him (or her) for so long makes me want to die,” check out the article 10 Tips for Healthy Grieving by Steve Arterburn, host of the radio show New Life Live.

Here is an encouraging thought for when discouraging times or dark shadows come: Video: “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” by Lynda Randle:

Lost a Loved One? A Grief Lesson on ‘Firsts’

This continues Dianne’s 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief. Here she discusses the first year of ‘firsts’, as that can tempt some to think about suicide.

By Dianne E. Butts:

 

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In 1850 Alfred Lord Tennyson, in his poem In Memoriam:27, wrote, “ ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” But if you’ve lost a loved one, it may not feel that way, but instead may tempt you to think about suicide.

The first year after the death of a loved one is filled with many “firsts.” In my list of “10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief” (excerpted from my first book, Dear America), the sixth thing I’ve learned about grief is this:

 #6: During the first year, you will experience a lot of “firsts”—your first anniversary, first birthday, first Christmas, and other first holidays without your loved one. Other firsts may include the first time you go to the movies without your loved one, plan a trip by yourself, or dine solo. And, of course, there will come the first anniversary of your loved one’s death.

It’s hard for anyone to get through all these for the first time. And getting through them the first time does not take away all the pain or depression. You may feel grief on those anniversaries for many years to come.

I learned some people experience “anniversary grief”: feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety, or other emotions around the anniversary of the death. These may even be subconscious, as a feeling of sadness, anxiety, anger, or other emotion that you just can’t figure out why it is hovering over you.

For years I felt a vague sense of dread, like something bad was about to happen, around my birthday. I could not shake the feeling and did not understand it. I didn’t connect it with my brother’s death until a friend of mine explained “anniversary grief” to me. It was only two days after my 18th birthday that my brother was killed by a drunk driver. I’d had other traumatic events happen near my birthday when a younger teenager also, including when my parents announced their divorce and yet another year when my father was diagnosed with cancer and had major surgery.

While I hadn’t connected the dots, my subconscious had, and it left me with that feeling something dreadful was about to happen. You may experience a different feeling. These feelings can cause us to think about suicide.

When such an anniversary is approaching:

  • Try to anticipate times that will be difficult, like holidays.
  • Make plans to do something special.
  • Preferably do your special plans with friends, family, or other people around.
  • Holidays or personal anniversaries are no time to be alone.

Pastor Charles Stanley wrote a beautiful letter to grieving people on the tenth anniversary of September 11th:

We experience injustices at the hand of others who cause us overwhelming suffering. The pain gnaws at us and we wonder, Why God? Why did You allow these things to happen? Is there any hope left?

“Are you experiencing this kind of grief today? Has your world come crashing down due to another’s hurtful actions? Have you lost someone or something that is very precious to you? If so, I want to remind you that God is still on His throne…and He loves you unconditionally.”

You can read the rest of Pastor Charles Stanley’s letter here.

Seek out the comfort of friends and family. They love you and they need you, too. So don’t let the first year of firsts after the death of a loved one tempt you to think about suicide.

When you feel sad or are thinking about suicide, why not instead begin to think about things you are thankful for? God, also, has experienced pain and loss and He knows how it feels. Listen to this song with lots to thank God for: “I’ll Say Thanks” by God City:

Grieving the Suicide of Family Members

By PeggySu Wells:

At a family reunion, we grieved the suicide of family members, causing two people to be permanently missed.


Does this symbolize your own broken “family tree”? Who will be missed at your own family reunion?

Last weekend was our annual family reunion. Because of the suicide of family members, there were two important people missing. Because of suicide, several of the people in attendance were deeply hurt, and all of us were affected.

My cousin is two years older than me, and the most beautiful girl I know. When we were kids, her dad committed suicide. Today my cousin is a grandmother, and we still do not know why her father took his life. It was a shock. His wife and my cousin never recovered.

Last year, like his grandfather before him, my cousin’s son took his life. Very calculated, he did this in a fashion that his mother would be the one to find him. It devastated her on many levels. As the days go by, she merely learns to live with the gaping hole in her heart. Life for her is forever altered.

I cannot begin to fathom what these two men were thinking that led to their decisions. Her father. Her son. But from an outsider’s view, I see this as a selfish act because of the sad impact these choices wrought on those left behind. The close loved ones. The wives and mothers who loved these men.

When they thought about suicide, was this the legacy they wanted to leave on their family? Is this what they envisioned the family tree would look like for their children?

Suicide doesn’t appear to have been the answer to any problem. To have solved anything. Suicide certainly has proven to cause generations of unanswered questions, family members left feeling abandoned and shamed, and an unquenchable sadness that blankets their hearts.

We can learn from the experience of others. Perhaps this father and this son believed their situation was dire. Unfixable. Without alternatives. Yet, today their family members live at a different address, in a different state. Settings and people change.

I understand that suicide may be filling your thoughts. And there are other options. Please make a choice that is healthy for you and for those around you. Get the help you need. People are available to support you through the rugged times. The number for the suicide hotline is 1-800-784-2433.

(I Believe, Help Thou My Unbelief by the Gaither Trio in their studio)

How to Make it Through the Night

By Janet Perez Eckles:


Image by bulldogza / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 I tossed in bed. Those long nights, those awful nights that echoed what I lost. “If I could only make it through the night,” I thought between sobs.

But when morning light shimmered through the window, the reminder of my loss closed the drapes and to my dismay, sadness, deep sadness visited again.

Is that what people do when a child is gone? Is that what life will be from now on?

All those moments of grief plagued my days.  My family saw a Mom who dragged her feet, not walked with joy anymore. I had turned to a wife that sighed rather than laugh. And I saw myself like a discarded piece of garment in the closet of life.

But when the day came and God nudged, lifted my chin and whispered I wasn’t alone, I gave a long sigh, wiped my face, and brushed the self-pity from my heart. That was what I longed for—for company, for someone to walk with me, stay with me and give me encouragement. But the encouragement I thirst for was more than words. I wanted promises I could count on, that were solid and lasting.

And it was those promises through Jesus, which I let sink into my heart. I believed in the promise that He would provide the strength and energy to take that next step. They gave me the wisdom to know how to express my feelings and the grace to make it through the night into the next day.

Looking back, the fear I was alone in my pain was what brought added darkness to my grief. But when God’s promises danced in the sun rays coming from the window, my world changed.

The sun that shone was warm with God’s Word, His true Word that reassured He would be enough. His guarantee that He would not let me sink, let me drown in sorrow, nor stay down.

Instead, He would lift me up, and in a gentle voice, repeat what my soul hungered for—“you will never be alone.”

Fresh morning of freedom—His promises that prevailed brought down powers that pressed me down. And His constant companionship, counseled me with comfort. New confidence marked my days– joy trickled through, peace settled in, and laughter visited again.

For another article about Janet and the loss of her teen son (including a video) see Finding God in Grief When My Son Died.