As the holiday speeds forward this December and family members and friends reach out to one another by connecting at festivities and through gift-giving, remember that not everyone is enjoying the season because “more than 36,000 people in the U.S. kill themselves every year,” according to Psychology Today. And some of those deaths occur around Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year.
Regardless of what month someone chooses to take their own life, suicide leaves behind the same devastation to family and friends–and the same question: Why? Suicide is no respecter of age either, with a 7-year-old male student from Delaware taking his life earlier this year, according to a Dec. 19 news report from WBOC. Suicides at that age are rare, occurring at a rate of .5 per 100 thousand people, according to Dr. Laura Epstein, but they still occur.
Some say that there is no way to understand suicide unless you have been there, and one of those who has experienced a close encounter is author William Styron, who went to the trouble of penning his own memoir about his suicidal experience, entitled Darkness Visible, describing the emotional turmoil as having “felt the wind of the wing of madness.”
It is rare for the general public (and oftentimes even family members of the deceased) to learn exactly what led to a loved one’s suicide, making it hard to understand how to prevent one. And while personal memoirs of those who tried and failed are informative about this important issue–and should be given serious consideration for the information they do impart–they do not necessarily represent every type of person who will attempt suicide in their lifetime. Each individual is different and driven by different reasons to take their own lives.
For example, some people are driven to despair over losses, like a job or a loved one, while other people choose to end their lives in order to end the pain of marital problems, divorce or even severe health issues, like those actor Robin Williams faced at the end of his life, before his suicide.
Psychology Today understands that loved ones of those who have committed suicide want to understand the issue better, providing practical articles to help those who are trying to cope with a loved one’s suicide during this time of year, as well as other suicide-related issues.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website provides a toll-free number (1-800-273-8255), made available 24/7 to those who want help in not ending their life.
And if you know of someone who is depressed, experiencing family troubles or otherwise having a hard time at this time of the year, do your part by taking a moment to check in with them to let them know you care and are willing to help if you can. It may be all it takes to keep them from addressing their issue in the most serious and permanent way possible: suicide. And no one wants that kind of Christmas gift from a family member or friend–including you, right?