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The consequences of suicide

Posted 8/11/2010   Updated 8/11/2010 Email story   Print story

    


Commentary by Chrissy Cuttita
Team Eglin Public Affairs


8/11/2010 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- What are the consequences of suicide?

For those who try or even succeed in committing suicide, many believe it puts an end to the suffering, but for family and friends left behind, the feelings of sadness, loss, and endless questions seem as eternal as the death of their loved one.

I remember attending my best friend's funeral mass in 1996, like it was yesterday. To get to the church I had to drive through the neighborhood where she and I once lived, attended school and played since we were five years old. My years of mourning started at that church service.

The service was announced as a side bar to the gruesome story in my home town newspaper. My mother called me to read the saddening news.  I quickly returned home to seek relief to the shock and loss.

Immediately I wondered what I could have done to have prevented this. I wondered if I was at fault for being so far away when my friend needed me most. Perhaps if I hadn't enlisted in the military I could have been there for her, I thought. Taunting memories of the long nights I helped her cope through all sorts of personnel struggles left me feeling I had abandoned my childhood friend.

I constantly remembered the many times my friend would call me and seek my help. For example, one of my family Thanksgiving dinners was interrupted when I quickly ran out to meet my friend on a snow-piled street corner to hug her and comfort her in a time of great family distress. Anytime I drive by that corner I struggle to remember the warm love of that day, instead of the frigid memories of death.

Surely, I thought, she would always know I was there for her. We shared a deep spiritual relationship and bond unlike any other in our young lives. But somehow, in a moment of weakness and confusion, she decided to take her life suddenly as an end to years of heartache.

 I still continue to cling to the words of the priest at the funeral mass who had often spoken with my beloved friend. His words comforted my anguish of not being there physically to help my friend during her last years of life.

Still, I struggle emotionally with simple things that trigger thoughts of that horrific day. When talking to my 12-year-old son about childhood friendships, I'm left feeling a big emptiness in my own childhood. All the photographs of my life's occasions until I was my son's age have my friend pictured in them.

I can't help but remember the dreams she shared with me and how we planned to have children who would also be best friends in the future. I can't watch movies with a dry eye if the scenes play out the same activities we shared in our childhood. My son knows this routine all too well and often feels compelled to mourn with me, caring for a person he never met.

I've learned to cope with the fact that sometimes people are so sick they don't often come to you for help. It requires strength to come to someone transparently and tell them you need help. Not everyone has that courage, so it takes the people around them to read the warning signs even when they aren't spoken. Our eyes and ears must be open to every cue. We need to know every door may lead to possible survival so our hurting ones can be led to healing, hope and life.

We can help when others can't help themselves just by being sure to be there for the people in our lives. In times of great distress, our minds can trick us into not seeing who is there to help us. When saddened, our thoughts can lead us to believe we are alone, or worse, have no other way out, but perhaps ending it all.

So we need to constantly let the people in our lives know we are there for them. We often hear "it takes a village to raise a child." Similarly, it takes each and every one of us to realize we can have a positive impact on the lives around us if we choose to engage.

I am truly sorry for those who loved my best friend, because I know they'll have to live with the loss forever. I'll never forget Deborah, who sadly passed June 10, 1996.



tabComments
8/14/2010 2:48:42 PM ET
Tell your family and friends daily that you love them and be there for them. If you are far away call them to check on them and if you know they are having difficulties try to be there for them if you can.
Jemie Russell, St Petersburg FL
 
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