Seeping through pores
The virus takes root
Invisible at first
A sense of not being
At home or abroad
In this sea of strangers
Wandering in and out
Filled with good will
They come and go
Dry and desolate
A thought takes root
The only welcome visitor
Whose words unheard
Make perfect sense
In this dying hope for miracles
That never arrive on time
In recognition of our national upsurge in suicides attempted and/or completed, and in honor of family members and friends who ended their lives on this earth, or made the attempt and failed.
Always a thousand unanswered questions. Always a sense of ‘what could I or we have done differently?’ Always a desire to go to sleep and hope for something better when I wake up.
Multiple resources are available online. Hotlines and chat rooms are open night and day.
I first posted this poem with comments in June 2018. Now it’s October 2020, and the number of USA deaths by suicide is climbing. How would you respond if a family member or friend confided in you? What would you say? What would you do?
Every situation is different. However, based on experience, here’s a way to begin conversation immediately. Don’t forget to take notes, including the date and time.
- What’s your plan?
- How would you do that? (Describe the process and preparation as of right now.)
- Have you talked with anyone else about this? (If so, with whom did you talk, and what did they say?)
- Do you have the suicide hot-line number? (If not, give them the number. You can’t force them to use it.)
- Promise you’ll call me before you carry out your plan.
We’re not trained to have these conversations. Nonetheless, it’s important to make this real and present. The worst thing would be to commiserate (I call this ‘polishing the furniture’), and then hang up because it seems your friend or family member is feeling ‘better.’ Now we have two people in denial. Hardly a good outcome.
Bottom line: An awkward one-to-one conversation is the best possible place to begin. Honor their pain. They’ve just reached out for help. Not for a feel-better conversation.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 June 2018, expanded and reposted 30 October 2020
Signs of Suicide found at mentalhealthfirstaid.org
Chart found at Wikipedia.eng