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.

 

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