“You have to treat the root of the problem, and not just operate on the symptoms,” explained Ebbem, a Norwegian medical student and my seatmate on a recent flight from Oslo to Amsterdam. “When I did my psychiatric rotations in northern Norway, I would ask people ‘How are you today?’ and they would talk for great lengths and detail about everything that was bothering them. It was as if no one had ever asked them ‘How are you today?’ It was clear they had a lot to get off their chest. It helped that I was an outsider who they had never met and had no long-term presence in their community.”
Men in the middle years — that is, men between the ages of 35 to 64 — make up less than a fifth of the U.S. population. They also account for 40 percent of suicides.
As I mentioned in the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s (SPRC) Spark Talk video, because of the large number of people in this demographic and its high rate of suicide, it will not be possible to reduce the overall number of suicides in the U.S. unless the MIMY suicide rate drops.
It's rare to find a person who can accurately and meaningfully describe the unique agony of someone who has lost a loved one to suicide. In fact, it takes someone who has known that pain first-hand. Kristen Spexarth knows it from the loss of her son, Colby, and she has bravely and lovingly found the words to describe her journey—beautiful, wise words that are a balm to me and to many other suicide loss survivors.
Three recent encounters left me musing about the importance of empathy and emotional well-being in the lives of those we love and touch.
I found out my husband Matt died by suicide, five years ago, at 9:30 in the morning. I had just dropped off my 5-year-old son at school. Nobody in my life had ever died this way before. I was in shock. I had no idea what to do. My chief concern at that grief-stricken moment was what to tell my kindergartener at 3:30 when I picked him up from school.
It rose briefly in the news media last month that Gloria Darden, mother of Freddie Gray, the young black man who died last spring while in custody by Baltimore police, had attempted to take her own life. Darden was admitted to a local hospital on Oct. 21 with injuries indicating a suicide attempt, according to news sources including The Washington Post. She is expected to survive.
Dear Robin McLaurin Williams,
Saturday, June 13, was a very special night at KING/NWCN in Seattle for mental health awareness and education.