has been all over the (mostly local) news and facebook over the past week. Another life lost needlessly, another teenager who had to look up directions on how to get to that bridge. And again, no body found as happens so very often.
When she first went missing, there was hope that she had gone off somewhere and would be found. Eventually, her bike was found near the bridge and the search efforts turned into a recovery effort.
So said and so unnecessary.
A few more links, there was quite a bit of media attention - not quite so much now.
We handed out the first set of scholarships last Wednesday and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm getting used to giving a short speech and having my picture taken.
Unfortunately, the next morning I woke up with something pulled in my neck. That has happened before and I've always toughed it out. So I thought, I'd just do that again. It was worse on Friday so I went off to see my new doctor. He asked all the right questions and one very wrong one (did I get drunk the night before this happened? No, of course not. I don't drink alcohol.). Still trying to figure out if he was serious or not. Anyway, he prescribed an ointment and muscle relaxants. The pills made me so loopy and tired that I'm missing the whole weekend and didn't help a bit with the stiffness and pain. Neither did the ointment. Back to toughing it out.
Yesterday was the awards ceremony at the high school we added this year. Unlike the other schools, there is no set program. You need to stand in line at 3 pm to pick up a number. I got there before 3 and still was only No. 28. Back to school before 6 pm to be seated on the stage for a good hour before it was our turn. Speech went well, the kids picked seem great, but I was worn out. Oh, it is raining again which didn't help with things.
I was just getting ready to go to bed when Larry called me over to show me an article he had found online: http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Bridge-Suicide-on-the-Golden-Gate-Bridge. I made the mistake of reading it all and was pretty disturbed. There's no way to tell who the writer is and while all the stuff included in the article is out there somewhere, I simply couldn't figure out where he got all the "intimate" details about Henry. Not until this morning did I realize it's all straight from the article Tia O'Brien wrote for which she interviewed us a few years ago. While I like that this issue is being brought to the foreground yet again (there's still no money coming in for a barrier), I had managed to successfully push the whole article far back into my mind and really liked having it there. It feels a bit as if my privacy has been invaded. Yes, we talked to Tia willingly and appreciated what she did, but having Henry and our lives dissected like that was really difficult and being reminded of it all was no less easy.
I am so torn on so many levels. On the one hand I want my quiet little life back, nevermind that it's a tad boring; on the other hand I want to do what I can to help not only with the suicide barrier but also making people aware of suicide. It's not easy and I have a feeling it'll be something I'll struggle with for quite a long time to come.
There never was a time (once I was old enough to understand) that I was not aware of suicide. My father was a homicide detective who spent more time cutting people out of trees than investigating murders. And he talked about it, in a rather dispassionate way. I guess you'd have to in that profession.
The first time it hit close to home was when a former teacher and his lover took their lives in a rather dramatic way. I was 16 at the time. Next, at 29, came a former classmate. That one hurt, the circumstances were sad, very sad.
Still, suicides were something that happened to other people only. And they just happened, there wasn't anything anyone could do to prevent them - or so we thought at the time.
And then Henry decided one day he didn't want to live anymore. Now, this one hurt badly, worse than anything else I've ever experienced.
One way to deal with my grief was to start reading, to educate myself and I came to realize that there are far too many misconceptions about suicide. And that far too many people mistake their opinions for facts.
Yes, suicides can be prevented. Mental illness is treatable. Suicide more often than not is an impulsive act and if the easy means are taken away, the attempter often doesn't look for another way. Case in point is the Richard Seiden study conducted in the 1970s. He and his researchers identified 515 people who were prevented from jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge and followed their lives. Of these 515, only 6% went on to complete suicide and only 6 people went back to the bridge. There's the British natural gas story - once Britain switched from coal gas to natural gas, suicides went down by a third. People didn't look for another way once they couldn't stick their heads into the oven. (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/06/magazine/06suicide-t.html?_r=1&ex=1216094400&en=83bf55db43f6ac85&ei=5070&emc=eta1)
And, it's not called "committing" suicide. Crimes are committed, suicide isn't a crime. Suicides are attempted and/or completed.
Far too often I come across the opinion, "If they want to die, just let them." Feeling suicidal isn't a fatal disease, suicide is not the same as euthanasia. It is not an informed decision, but rather a decision made when the attempter is in a state of distress, mental agony, psychache. Edwin Shneidman, the father of suicidology, addresses that very well in his book "The Suicidal Mind." Talking to somebody who has decided life isn't worth living anymore works, pointing out to them that there are reasons to go on and try again works. Explaining that being pregnant, having lost a job, getting divorced, losing a boyfriend/girlfriend, not being accepted by your first choice of universities are not reasons to end one's life.
No, these people are not the scum of the earth and they do not deserve to take themselves out of the gene pool. That sort of thing is stupid, hateful and obviously expressed by somebody totally insensitive, immature and uncaring.
Suicide also isn't a sin (any longer). It used to be, but I'd like to think we are just that little bit more enlightened and compassionate. My son had a funeral mass, there never was any question about it.
There are plenty more facts I learned once I started reading and I may or may not address those in time, but, for now, I'm done.
Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of Henry's death and, as always (until there is a barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge), we will be retracing his steps.
And youTube doesn't allow the soundtrack for the second one, the one about Henry's last journey. Oh well, it's here, music and all.
With the fourth anniversary coming up next Sunday, I set myself a deadline: finish all this and a blog that's invitation only (The Diary of a Suicide). That one isn't quite done yet, but what remains is just editing.
So, once that is done, I am done. No more serious videos. I will still continue with suicide awareness, of course. And who knows what else will happen.
There have been so many changes in the last 4 years. I even got a tattoo for Henry (he'd hate it as he would all the rest of it). But - you gotta do what you gotta do.
Word of warning, though, it's not fun or amusing or entertaining. It's a series of shots, set to music, of Henry's last journey, the steps he took from the parking lot onto the bridge.
Not easy, but definitely something I HAD to do.