there is no grace in grief
Men, as in most studies, generally have more aggressive impulses, thoughts, and emotions than females. It happens in their dreams and it occurs with their methods of suicide. It is often violent and unbridled. The methods men use when committing suicide are violent a majority of the time; use of firearms, cars driven into walls or off cliffs. And often as you have seen in mass shootings, they set up a homicide/suicide situation where they will commit a homicide(s), and want to take themselves out in the sad hope of making a mark on the world (another blog on profiling to come). Women overall, use less violent means. They overdose, or they may use carbon monoxide poisoning with their car, in their garage or with a hose, other may use other methods of poisoning, and hanging. Women use firearms as well but the statistics are much lower for firearms and suicide with women. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in the USA, suicide statistics for all men, all races, and all ages was the 7th leading cause of death from 2000 to 2008. From 2008 to 2010 sadly, it moved from the 7th position to be the 4th leading cause of death among men. For women of all ages, & races, from 2002 to 2010 suicide was not listed at all in any of the top 10 leading causes of death for women. The first 3 causes of death have consistently been heart disease, cancer, and stroke for the past 8 years. Personally, I think this is because women are stronger emotionally. Possibly, have better emotional networking and support and have a tendency to use their support systems. They may not be as strong physically, but most know how to lean on others and talk. This blends into some of my previous posts about men, just not having the emotional tools to communicate effectively. It’s not their fault. Part of it is wiring and part is our culture. The need to demonstrate they are “strong”. Trying to treat law enforcement persons is even more difficult. And please know when I make these statements there are many exceptions to this rule. Interestingly, when looking closer at suicides, the CDC reports that the highest number of suicides among men were because of a”failed relationship”. Health problems were the second cause of suicide. Again, the failure of relationships most likely would have to do with emotional issues including communication, and their lack of understanding how to connect with women on an emotional level. I use to manage the emergency mental health department for the City of Alexandria, VA about 5 miles outside Washington, DC. I worked closely with police and fire departments and witnessed these statistics play out in real life and real-time. I was often called to hostage barricade situations, as well as suicide calls, both attempted and completed. One cold winter evening in the winter, I think it was in November, someone was reported as standing on the outside rail facing the water, on a bridge. The wind was blowing fiercely that evening. This man wanted to jump very badly off the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. This is a bridge that crosses the Potomac River and connects VA to MD. The man eventually came down after several hours of negotiating. Another oddity, is when I when I was growing up in the suburbs of Maryland, we had 4 suicides on my street in a 3 year period. Two of them were housewives that had committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning in their garages. They lived across the street from one another. The two events were not connected. The next was year, a 15-year-old boy shot himself in the head in his house after school. Four houses down from me and 5 houses from the 2 women. His little brother who was about 9 years old, ran up to my house saying he was afraid that ” the big bookshelf upstairs fell down” and he was scared. The parents were not home from work. I ran down there with my father to see what happened. He didn’t know his brother was home and this young man had used a shotgun and shot himself at the top of the steps. The walls were covered. It was a such a sad and macabre seen. A few years later, that same child who came up to my house, ended up shooting himself in the head in the same house in the same place. I felt so bad for the mother of these children who was a wonderful person. Who survives that? I remember her on her front lawn on the ground rolling around in hysterics making sounds I had never heard from any human. We all got it. No one judged her, it was like something on 60 minutes. Her marriage fell apart and she ended up living in the house alone, and passed away a few years ago of a health problem. The suicides of her only 2 children destroyed her. She never came back from that. Not really. This verifies the information we sometimes hear that suicide happens in clusters. One person does it and suddenly it’s happening all over the place. Even on the news. And it’s true. The reason for my post is to share that suicide permanently emotionally damages any family and friends who are left behind. I currently see a lovely man who came to me because his only son, who was 24 at the time, an extremely handsome, intelligent, sweet young man, and graduate from an Air Force Special Intelligence school shot himself in the head in his bathtub one week after his graduation. He had been hired to go on special assignment after graduation. His father, has been seeing me off and on for 5 years now, since the suicide. His son left no note. No trace of any issues, nothing. His father, has scoured through his sons computer, his files, his personal belongings and his clothing looking, researching for clues and answers anything to help him understand why his son would do this? He goes to his son’s grave every Sunday alone, by request, and “shares” a glass of scotch with him. He has changed. His tears today are as fresh and deep as the day it happened. He has been to every place, down every road, to every hotel, talked to every friend, family member, girlfriend, and even exactly mirrored the week his son experienced the week of his death. He really didn’t learn anything. Nothing. It kills him that he doesn’t know why? This has been the biggest challenge for him. His life now, revolves around his son’s birthday, the day he committed suicide, the day he was buried, and the day he found out. The holidays mean very little to him now, his marriage is falling apart. His son not only took his own life, he took his father’s life too.
Suicide is not a private event.It is like throwing a stone in a pond and each ripple represents a person. Then each person carries with them guilt, grief, anger, and confusion, and wonders if they could have done anything, anything at all to prevent it. Then it touches another person. Marriages break up, siblings struggle in their personal relationships, siblings struggle with their parents if their sibling committed suicide, often other siblings or friends commit suicide. It tears families apart at the hinges. Lives change. It is an angry and selfish thing to do to those in your life who love you. It is the ultimate angry abandonment. A final permanent expression of contempt to those left. Reach out, even if you think no one will understand. Read about survivors and how they pulled themselves out of the hopeless trap they tricked themselves to believing they were caught in. There is always hope.
I miss the comfort of your embrace
I miss waiting for your calls
that never came
I miss the excitement of planning things that we never did
I miss waiting to see you each day those days lifted my heart but for only for a second,
as I never got to see you at all.
Each night I spent in quiet isolation, in death, only to unravel myself in the dark, knowing loneliness would be my only companion. The layers I put around your going grew thin.
Each morning I added new layer to myself with the sunrise,
All the time knowing my quiet desolation would be my only partner once more. As the moon grew bright and full and the light shed only enough for me to notice that I was in the same spot with the same darkness, waiting for a new hope that never came.
I will miss missing you.