The announcement of his death stopped me in my tracks. He was 40 years old.
I loved this guy so much. His face lit up the world.
Statistics remind us that suicide is something we must continue to pay attention to and to work on prevention. Most of us know someone who has taken his or her very own life. The pain can be overwhelming, but although ending one’s life can seem like the only way to end the pain, it is not the only way to cope with pain. Things can get better.
But the act of suicide is permanent and leaves family and friends devastated. Forever.
The grief is permanent. Alice Holker was married to tWitch for almost ten years. They met on Dancing with the Stars. The couple shared three children together. His mom’s grief, too, is wrenching, as she wrote about her son Stephen Laurel Boss and how she longs to facetime him in heaven.
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that in 2020, suicide was the twelfth leading cause of death in the USA. Over 45,900 people committed suicide in 2020. And now reports are that suicide rates are at a 50-year high, with the predictions that suicide rates will likely continue to rise. Having an awareness of the magnitude of suicide in our nation can prompt us to become more educated about how to seek help for ourselves and for others.
NIMH offers warning signs that a person may be at risk of suicide. Here are a few:
- Talking about wanting to die
- Talking about feeling empty or hopeless or having no reason to live
- Feeling unbearable emotional or physical pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast
- Taking or thinking about death often
I suppose we all wear a façade to some extent. So many people smile through the pain that the phenomena have even been called “smiling depression.” It is not a sign of weakness to be depressed. Life can be so painful.
When someone seems in distress (or even when someone is not), it can be important to try to talk and to listen for any warning signs of contemplation of suicide. One of the most important things we can do for each other is to be a safe place for listening to what is really going on in a loved one’s life. It takes time and intention to stop and listen. Especially in times of stress, people long for communication with friends and family. Having a caring person in our lives who listens is crucial to our well-being.