Suicide leaves void for loved ones
It took minutes for Jane Doe, not her real name, to learn that her best friend had committed suicide. Learning to live with it, however, took years.
“It was probably like three years,” she said. “I mean, she was my best friend, so I felt abandoned. I felt worthless because why couldn’t my best friend talk to me? I was lost and didn’t know what was going on.”
That was nearly 16 years ago. Doe has lost several friends and an uncle to suicide. The losses still hurt but now she knows how to cope with them.
“It’s sad to say, but you kind of get used to it,” she said. “It still hurts, but it’s like ‘OK, this isn’t new.’ That’s also really sad.”
Doe had a friend who stepped in during her suicide attempt and saved her life.
Doe’s friend was there to prevent her from swallowing pills during her attempt.
The pain of her loss has given her understanding to discuss suicide prevention. She has found, however, that it’s a balancing act.
Sometimes people who hear Doe’s story think their own problems are trivial and don’t want to share, which she understands but tries to work past.
“Like no, you need to talk,” she said. “That wasn’t what it was about. I’m just trying to explain that I’ve gone through stuff, so what you’re going through is fine, let’s talk. I’ve felt like that with other people.”
Suicide takes a heavy toll in the U.S., particularly for ages 10 to 34, where it is the second-leading cause of death, according to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It also is the fourth-leading cause of death for people 35 to 54.
However, statistics sometimes lag, and many available numbers are from between 2016 to 2018.
A majority of suicide victims in Kansas in 2018 were between 15 and 44 years old, with 105 deaths for ages 35 to 44, 103 deaths for 25 to 34, and 101 deaths for those between 15 and 24, according to Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
There were 555 suicides by Kansans in 2018, which was the most since 1999, as was the state’s age-adjusted rate of 19.2 suicides per 100,000 people, both according to KDHE.
Men had a much higher rate of suicide in Kansas, comprising 78.9% of the state’s incidents.
Even after Doe’s suicide attempt, it took time to make a permanent and positive change to her mentality.
A short stay at a hospital’s mental health clinic two years ago put Doe on the road to healing.
“I don’t even know what it is,” she said. “Now it’s like I have more patience and think things through more.”
Doe has found it helps to have a coping mechanism, whether it’s for a person thinking about attempting suicide, family and friends trying to recover in the wake of a suicide.
For Doe that was writing letters to her best friend, as well as her spirituality, and eventually visiting her friend’s grave five years ago.
“I went to her gravestone and it was the first time I saw it,” she said. “Something lifted, because it felt so good to see her.”
While Doe believes discussion is a necessity, she understands it isn’t an easy topic.
“I don’t think people think it’s OK to talk about,” she said. “Maybe people think it’s too scary or like they’re walking on egg shells. I’m here like let’s talk about it, because we need to. Shed some tears while you’re talking about it, make yourself feel better.”
Last modified Sept. 17, 2020