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Monday, November 29, 2021  

Suicide at the Holidays?Published 12/22/2004

The holiday season is upon us and while we are thinking of all the happy times, there are those every year who take their own lives, even during this season of caring and love.

The thought of suicide may be inconceivable to begin with, yet when mixed with the joy of the holiday season, it often seems incomprehensible.

So I thought it might be a time to lend some personal insights to this confusing phenomenon, as it was only three years ago that I sat at the edge of suicide myself, only a week before Thanksgiving.

Why?

Well, mostly because I was dealing with a depression that felt overwhelming and endless. I couldn’t see light at the end of the tunnel, or find a lifeline to grasp on to.

While I had friends and family who loved me, I was unable to express my feelings to them clearly enough for them to understand my level of pain, and I didn’t know how they could help me either. What complicated matters further is that I have always been seen as a very strong and confident person. So, try as I might to explain my emptiness, my overwhelming gloom, my feelings of doom no one understood.

Did I want to intentionally hurt my loved ones or mar every year with an anniversary of pain? Was I contemplating this act to be selfish?

Of course not.

All I could think about was making the pain stop and the overwhelming depression finally end. And at that time, looking forward to a Christmas that felt empty and alone, looming like a death sentence in and of itself.

It’s interesting to note that even when I confessed to my loved ones how I had actually written a suicide letter, they were shocked and filled with disbelief. They still could not grasp it, even after I spelled it out in intimate detail.

Unless you are in that dark place, you just cannot understand.

Even more profound was something that happened a year and a half later when I wrote my book, "Get Out of Your Boxx," where I vividly describe the opening chapter with me writing the suicide letter and then screaming at the top of my lungs in desperation, realizing that I couldn’t actually go through with it due to the pain it would cause those very same people. When my sister edited that chapter where I describe my suicidal thoughts, she was still shocked and said, "Even though we talked about this right after you were contemplating it, I still didn’t understand just how desperate you were until right now."

When I hear some people say that "suicide is the most selfish act anyone can do," I want to vomit. It says to me that they have never been at that brink. They have no idea of what a person in that position is going through. And isn’t it easy to pass judgment when you’re not there yourself?

As this holiday season gets closer, think about those around you who are alone and do not see the festivities as warmly as those with small children or strong family ties to bind them together at this special time of year.

Who might feel isolated? Who might have experienced a recent break up and the idea of spending Thanksgiving or Christmas alone and without significant other may be the straw that breaks the camel’s emotional back? How can you reach out to them and make them feel special and included in a meaningful manner? Let us keep our eyes open for those silently crying out for help – even when they may appear as the Rock of Gibraltar to others around them.

While it is a myth that suicide rates increase at the holidays, even one life lost at this time of year is a tragedy that can mar what should be a time to celebrate the birth of Christ and the coming together of friends and family, and turn it in to an anniversary of pain.

If you are the one feeling overwhelmed and life seems to hard too handle, hang onto this line from Iris Bolton and "The Phases of Grief." Suicide is a long term answer to a short term problem. There are always answers, if you just reach out to ask for help.

As for me – I cherish every day I am given now! The things I would have missed had I carried out my suicidal thoughts in 2001, are unbelievable!

Life is a precious gift to me and I sum it up with this great quote from Eleanor Roosevelt … "Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present!"

May your holiday season be filled with many, many gifts and may the one you cherish the most be your own wonderful, miraculous life!



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