Tag Archives: suicide prevention

The poet’s expression of joy conceals his despair at not having found the reality of joy. — Max Jacob

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When the news broke on July 20th of the death by suicide of Chester Bennington, lead singer of the band Linkin Park, my immediate thought was “surely this is another hoax, like the recent bogus announcements over the internet of the deaths of Clint Eastwood and William H. Macy.” Sadly, it is true. Chester Bennington took his own life at the age of forty-one. This came as a horrible shock to his family, friends, band mates and millions of adoring fans. He was in the prime of his life, at the top of his game as a professional performer and in between tours with his band in promoting their new album One More Light. It seemed he had everything to live for, yet he decided to end his life. This is, undoubtedly, hard for many to understand and who are left wondering why. I can only surmise that in spite of the fame and success he enjoyed in life, despair got the better of him and he decided he could not go on living. Despair is part of being human and how human beings cope with it or not varies according the individual. Continue reading

I love to be individual, to step beyond gender. — Annie Lennox

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The suicide of Joshua Alcorn on December 28, 2014 marked the tragic end of his young life. He was seventeen years old. His suicide attracted world wild attention as he published a suicide note on Tumblr in which he related the stress of suffering gender dysphoria (he felt he was a girl living in a boy’s body). This stress was too much for him to bear so he opted for suicide. He adopted the name Leelah in his suicide note. He leaves behind his grieving parents, younger siblings and the rest of those who knew and loved him. Details are emerging as to the stress he endured and a degree of dysfunction in his family. He came from Christian family; his parents (Doug and Carla Alcorn) did not understand what he was experiencing and essentially told him to “pray it away.” He said in his suicide note that his parents sent him to conversion therapy for treatment. Compounding this tragedy was the lynch mob mentality that took hold. Doug and Carla Alcorn experienced harassment, even a call from activist Dan Savage that they face prosecution. Is this warranted? Continue reading

Keep passing the open windows. — John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire

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“Keep passing the open windows” is the phrase that comes from the John Irving novel The Hotel New Hampshire, published in 1981. It is a catchphrase among the Berry family, the characters whose story is told in the novel. It is drawn from a story that the Berry parents tell their children, about a street performer called “The King of Mice.” He committed suicide in jumping from a window. “Keep passing the open windows” is the family’s way of saying to each other to carry on when the going gets tough. I read the novel in 1983 and saw the feature film version released in 1984. This catchphrase and the sentiment behind it has remained with me over the years and I have applied it in my own life in “passing the open windows.” However, I understand while it is easy to tell someone who is troubled, having a hard time coping with life, its joys and sorrows, to “keep passing the open windows”, promising them things will get better, sadly, not all stories have a happy ending. Continue reading