Plain Talk About Suicide

When someone dies of suicide, it’s common to wonder “Why?” Often the answer is depression, but not always. It’s a disease just like cancer. Yes there are sometimes life circumstances that exacerbate the disease, but not always. I’ve seen days where an acute bout of hiccoughs could trigger a plan to end my life.

In the words of my wise friend and mental health professional Ted Bonar:

My heart hurts. Everyone: suicidal thoughts are common and suicidal behaviors are treatable, and we must speak about it and discuss it without fear, discrimination, or stigma. Love to you and everyone else.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to for a list of additional resources.

But I too am sometimes guilty of putting the burden on the sick. Yes, we’re responsible for our own self-care, but often (I know this from experience) the sick person is wholly incapable of asking for help or reaching out. We’re all in this together. And, (while I’m on my soapbox), the proper phrasing is “died by suicide” not “committed.” We would never say someone committed cancer or diabetes or committed a heart attack. It’s not a choice. It’s a disease.

Rant over.