Opinion Columns & Blogs

Silence and isolation are not the solutions to preventing suicides

One of the ailments of teens is depression. I know, I remember it well.

Depression can strike anyone at any point in life, but for teens it is epidemic. A broken date, a gauche comment or a zit on prom night looms as a crisis point that will affect the rest of your life. At that age you do not see things in perspective, everything is now.

For a child with real problems, this immediacy can be deadly. With my physical and learning problems I felt I was an odd duck and that I would never fit in. I remember looking at drops off buildings trying to figure how far I would have to fall to die.

I did not act out, I just got quieter, but a teacher noticed and talked about the future I could have, that I had worth.

As an older teen in nursing school, one of my best friends was suicidal. She had scars on her wrists showing where she had cut herself; a miracle saved her, that time. Then she went away and killed herself on the highway. She was out of miracles.

That, of course, set me off again. Luckily, I had good friends who stayed with me for two whole weeks until I was myself again. Later another friend, a talented artist, felt trapped and nearly stabbed herself to death. She said she never would have done it if I had been there.

And that points to the solution – time – time to get help, time to diagnose the problem and time to heal. Don’t kill yourself, talk to someone. Reach out for just this one day. Call the crisis line at 360-586-2800 and get help. Talk to a friend, a teacher, a counselor, but also try the crisis line.

And, for those who know people in crisis, let them talk. Help them talk. Don’t leave them alone. Call for help. The crisis line is for you too, it will give you resources and ways to help.

This is serious.

When I mentioned this subject to my friends at the Olympia Senior Center, I was surprised to learn just how many have been touched by suicide. It appears common for all of us to be scarred by it, but we just do not talk about it.

I think that is a mistake, we have to talk about it. It is in all our lives and if we ignore it, it doesn’t go away. If we let people know just how dark it can get before you survive and thrive, maybe the next person will not hurt themselves. If we talk about it, maybe we will be sensitive enough to save someone who is thinking about suicide.

You give me your permission to kill myself when you do it first. Family members of suicide victims commit suicide. If we survive the shock of your death, we will not be improved by your death; rather we will morn because we didn’t know you were so desperate. You may feel you need attention, but suicide will not get you what you need. Suicide is not a solution; it is everyone’s failure.

The Crisis Clinic of Thurston and Mason Counties can help you when you are desperate, troubled by drugs or drink, need food, or are homeless. It is not just for those who are looking for suicide prevention.

Check out the website, crisis-clinic.org/ and find resources for when you have needs. The teen help line is there at 360-586-2777. This is a great place for volunteers and a place that can use donations. With this asset in our community we never have to be alone, we have a friend.

Virginia Towne, a member of The Olympian’s Diversity Panel, retired from the University of Washington as a computer programmer. Towne, who has personal experience with disabilities, can be reached at townevi@gmail.com.