Yesterday was Easter Sunday. I’m not an Easter sort of person, but no doubt the day will have unusual connections in the future.
Someone I have known practically since the day I moved to Texas took his own life yesterday. We weren’t particularly close, in the way people count close relationships, but he was always present in the neighborhood, always had pleasant exchanges and so forth, and I knew a large part of his extended family as well. My daughter and her husband are long-time ‘as-good-as-family’ with them.
I first new something was wrong around mid-late-morning when I heard sirens in the area that seemed to stop right on my block. I looked out the window to see 2 ambulances and 4 or 5 sheriff or constable cars and loads of first-responders milling about going in and out of the house across the street, talking to individuals who lived there. I knew one of the family members (K) has had serious health issues for years, and I was afraid the sirens were for him. Turned out he was the one who found his brother (J), who I didn’t know if he had health issues or not.
I didn’t know until another brother (L) and his wife pulled in and parked in my driveway which brother it was, and then the wife said, “He hung himself.” I was stunned. Seriously just stunned.
For my part, I’m not directly involved and his passing isn’t personal to me. Obviously my heart goes out to his family for their loss.
A question that nearly always comes up is “Why?” I don’t know if he left any sort of note, or if maybe the family has more insight into his state of mind. None of my business, really. But I know that a lot of times, the initial explanations that come forth aren’t the real why, but symptoms of the underlying why, which may never be known.
Is suicide ever a legitimate choice? Of course it is. And the reasons are as varied as the number of people who choose it. Sometimes there is a mental health issue that can be treated, and people on the brink of suicide can find a way forward through treatment. In other situations, ending one’s life is a personal choice with dignity after a life of suffering. I don’t believe suicide is always wrong or bad or shameful or otherwise negative. Some people simply have enough of this life.
For me, personally, unless I die of some other cause first, I will probably end my life on my own terms. When I am unable to live on my own and would become a burden on someone else, I would rather not do that. It has nothing to do with despondency or pain or something — it’s just a choice not to be a burden to others if I lose my independence.