World Suicide Prevention Day

It's not until Monday, but the newspaper editor chose to publish my annual letter today. Maybe more people will read it on a Saturday than a Monday. Who knows.
This time around, I tried to focus on teenagers.


Oh, and I didn't choose the title, they did.


Teenagers' use of pot may lower IQ

I saw a report about this on the news yesterday morning and promptly forgot about it (either a senior moment or too much else on my mind). Anyway, I finally remembered and here is the link:



My video has audio again

Two years ago, I felt the need to make videos in Henry's memory. I'll be the first to admit that they are pretty amateurish, but I wasn't after art. I was interested in healing and those videos (actually, slideshows would be the correct term here) did their job.
I originally uploaded them to Facebook and they were up for a few weeks before Facebook noticed that I had used copyrighted music. A big No-No. They were taken down and I was sent sternly worded emails. Oooookay ..................
So, I uploaded them to youTube (where they have been ever since). YouTube, too, noticed that I had used copyrighted music, but they figured out a way to monetize that (there's a link on where to buy the album), except for one of the songs. "Ripple" by the Grateful Dead was removed and so, Henry's Last Journey, turned into a silent movie.
Big surprise today when I went to watch it (I do that on occasion) and there was audio again. I wonder if it'll stay or not.
Blogger won't let me put a direct link to it for some odd reason, but here's the link:



Suicides at the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge

There's been a rash of suicides (4 since April) from the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge:


I especially "like" the last paragraph of the article:

"Transportation department officials decided there was no effective deterrent to stop people from jumping from the bridge."


Another step closer

A few years ago, members of the Bridge Rail Foundation (I was part of that group) visited local lawmakers to explain about the need for a suicide barrier and the need for funds. I believe it was Lynn Woolsey who sponsored adding language, although the article mentioned Barbara Boxer, to an upcoming highway transportation bill about funding for barriers. That bill was stalled in Washington for ages but finally passed.


Here's the relevant paragraph:

"The new transportation bill contains crucial wording allowing funding for suicide prevention including safety rails and nets on bridges, said officials for the Sausalito-based Bridge Rail Foundation. The language in the bill also clarifies that institutions such as the Golden Gate Bridge District — a special purpose district — are eligible for these funds."

Of course, the battle to procure those funds isn't over, but it's another step along the loooooong path.


The Final Leap

The post title is actually the title of a book by John Bateson ( http://www.amazon.com/The-Final-Leap-Suicide-Golden/dp/0520272404/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top).
L called me a little while ago to tell me that the author was on a local radio talk show and I managed to catch the second half of the show. There wasn't anything new being discussed, I've read enough about the subject to know the numbers and the issues, it's just good to know that somebody actually wrote a book about it.
I'm not going into what I heard on the show, not even the one not so smart comment by a caller.
What I do want to mention is what was being said at the very end: The Golden Gate Bridge Authority is in charge of everything that happens on and to the bridge and they are making absolutely no effort to secure funds for the approved barrier. They are putting plenty of effort into raising money for bike barriers and a center divider to prevent car crashes and for a new tourist center. The ones trying to raise money and/or securing funds are the people of the Bridge Rail Foundation (us). The author also mentioned that if there was more pressure from the public, things might be a bit different. But we all know how far too many San Franciscans feel about this issue.



It's that time of year again, time when high school seniors graduate. As we've done in previous years, we are handing out scholarships at the public high schools in town. The first presentation was last week Wednesday and, as usual, L made me do the speech while he stood in the background. But then he had a work emergency and I had to do Thursday's presentation by myself - for the first time ever. I was more than a little nervous and I have no idea how things went - I always rely on him for for feedback. It's always positive and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that he simply doesn't want to stand behind that microphone; he does enough presentation and speeches at work. Anyway, the whole thing was over so fast, it was a total blur and I think it went okay.
The recipients were, as always, chosen by the counselors at the schools, I just provide a list of criteria and, if there are questions, I'm happy to provide additional input. So, when I receive a thank you from a mother for choosing their child, I feel a little like a fake. I didn't do the choosing.
Yesterday, we received 2 thank you cards and today, there was a small package in the mailbox. Another thank you card along with a small gift and another thank you in DVD format. I am so touched that somebody would go to all this trouble.
I have to say, this is the best "job" I've ever had. Hate the reason for doing this, but it sure feels good to, hopefully, help somebody else.


The Fifth Annual Bridge Visit

 As I wrote in the previous post, it's that day again. It was surprisingly cool on the bridge, windy and quite foggy. Parking was a problem, too, but we made it eventually, tied our flowers to the rail and a big cable and took the obligatory pictures and left. No reason really to hang around, is there?
We then drove across the bridge into San Francisco to take our nice in-laws to lunch and checked to see if the flowers were still there - they were. On the way back, though, about 2 hours later, they were gone. It's not that we didn't expect it, though. We knew that would happen.
The ones I tied to the mailbox are still there, though, those forget-me-nots I grow just for Henry.

Five years

It's that day again, the anniversary of that horrible day when Henry died. And, just as we've done every year since then, we will be going to the bridge - with flowers and pictures this time around. L's sister and her husband will meet us again, we'll tie flowers to the rail, take a picture or two and, in my case, marvel again at how Henry could have had enough courage to do what he did (because, believe me, when you stand at that rail and look down, it's a long, long way down and I, for one, think it takes courage to make that move.). And wonder yet again why he did what he did.
I had a message from a friend on Facebook that made me cry already today and I'm not much of a crier. Nice words about the things I've done over the years, the education, the attempts to make people aware and it feels that maybe it was the right thing to do.
I've been struggling the last few weeks trying to decide how to find the right balance between honoring Henry's memory and not overdoing it. What's right? What's too much? I still don't know. This year, there are no slide shows, no lengthy posts (except for this one). Doesn't mean I don't still miss him, that I don't still wonder and that I don't still have many, many questions.
Miss you so much, Henry. ♥Mum♥


Means matter

An article from the Harvard School of Public Health talks about suicide, how means make a huge difference (e.g. availability of a firearm in a household, lack of barriers etc.).
Haven't we said that all along?



37 in 2011

I posted earlier what I thought was a report about deaths in 2011 which turned out to be the one for 2010.
So, here is the new one, the numbers are higher than the year before:



A suicide barrier for the Cold Spring Bridge

Just saw a link to this on Facebook, it's nice to see that there are people with compassion and common sense:


Let's just hope it'll happen here soon, too, because it's definitely time.


Photoshopping and soldering

I've talked a couple of times about the online class I am taking and I've shown a picture of what I had made so far.
Well, I've actually moved right along (at a snail's pace) and finally figured out how to solder bezels last week. And than I got stuck again. I knew I wanted at least one bezel to have a picture of Henry and I was dragging my feet hard, that just wasn't something I wanted to work on.
But, this morning I buckled down and opened PSE and played. It took me a while but I finally found how to add special effects to photos (and I'll be lucky if I'll ever find that again, I'm not a whiz when it comes to computers and/or software) and I played with a few photos. I'm quite pleased with the results and will, hopefully, use one of them in a bezel.

I'm leaning towards the last one - with the light effect - rather than the vintage effect photos.


Fiction and suicide barriers

I like reading (murder) mysteries, not the gory, violent, scary ones, but the somewhat more subdued ones. Although, just about anything dealing with murder is kind of violent.
Anyway, I'm reading V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton and one of the victims is found dead under the Cold Spring Bridge near Santa Barbara. It's meant to look like a suicide because quite a few people have jumped from that bridge to their deaths, but it is actually a murder.
I'm familiar with that particular bridge. There's a group wanting a barrier on that bridge and they have been in touch with our group, the Bridge Rail Foundation.
What I found especially interesting is a paragraph on page 216 of this novel (it's supposed to be a newspaper article): "Vance is the eighteenth Santa Teresa County resident to plunge to her death. Caltrans representative Wilson Carter called the loss of lives resulting from individuals jumping from the 400-foot-high bridge a "regrettable and entirely preventable tragedy." Statistical studies show that barriers erected on comparable structures contribute significantly to the reduction of suicide attempts. Carter further stated, "The long-term emotional and financial toll as a direct result of suicide offers a compelling argument for the construction of such a barrier, which has long been under discussion by state and county officials."
I've done some googling and can't find a Wilson Carter or this particular quote, but it's not that different from quotes about other structures needing a suicide barrier.
Oh, and the novel is set in 1988, so this particular discussion has been going on for a while there, too.


Dealing with loss

No, this isn't a post with advice on dealing with loss, rather, it's a "I don't quite know how to deal with this" post.
It's been almost 5 years since Henry left us and I'm doing just fine most days. It's the "special" days that are still a problem. We deal with Christmas by going away, that works. Thanksgiving gets pretty much ignored. But what about birthdays and the anniversary of his death?
I have a good friend who sends special gifts for the special days to make sweet memories and I am incredibly touched by her thoughtfulness.
Three years ago - or was it 4 years ago? - I came up with the idea of asking friends to have pizza in Henry's memory. It was his favorite food and we visit his favorite pizza place on occasion. Last year, K was visiting, so we invited friends and relatives to join us and there were 7 of us. It was quite nice. A nice distraction. Yesterday, there were 4 of us and it was fine. But, and I don't know if it's the still lingering cold or what, I don't feel so good today.
Yes, there are good memories to hold onto but there are still all those questions: why, what led up to it, why didn't I see it coming?
And then I ask myself: Am I dealing with this the right way? Shouldn't it maybe be time to just let go? I know I've moved on. But is it maybe time to put this behind me? I just don't know.
I've heard from a friend about another mother who lost her only child in an accident. She shuts herself in her house and spends her daughter's birthday remembering. No phone, no visitors, just herself and her memories. I can't do that and I don't want to do that. I know that isn't right for me.
Another friend organized a card tournament as a fund raiser in her brother's memory. The money raised goes towards a scholarship.
Still others have masses said on their child's special days. We did that for a while, until we didn't need them any longer.
I know this feeling will pass, but there's still the anniversary of Henry's death coming up and we will be visiting the bridge again - with flowers. Since it'll be the fifth anniversary, I am wondering if I should do anything else. But, if so, what? And, really, shouldn't I maybe just move on and treat all these days as if they were nothing out of the ordinary?
I just don't know.



Today is such a bittersweet day - sweet because of the nice memories - bitter for the obvious reason: Henry is gone. Today would have been his 23rd birthday and, as we've done for a few years now, we're having Pizza Night in his memory. We'll get together with a few friends at what used to be his favorite pizza place and there will be quite a few more people eating pizza where they live or happen to be tonight.
I remember the day he was born so well. It was bitter cold, just like it is here today. Of course, Oklahoma cold is different from California cold. It warms up quite a bit here, there, it stayed cold for ages. During the time we were in the hospital, Henry was the only boy and the heaviest baby in the nursery. He was such a good baby, quite calm and unfussy. And he calmed down immediately when held. Didn't like car rides which was so different from Kate.
The picture above brings back memories, too. It was taken in the late summer of 1995, during the break between kindergarten and first grade. Henry had been taking karate (soo bahk do) for about a year at a studio that was very much geared towards teaching children. This was his first tournament and it was set up in such a way that each child earned a trophy of some kind. He didn't do quite as well in forms (he got so much better as time went on, going from soft and mushy movements to totally crisp and sharp) but won first place in sparring. There had to be contact of some kind and Henry kicked the little girl he was sparring with in the stomach. Not hard, just enough to earn him a point (and it wasn't mean or malicious, just part of the routine). The trophy was slightly taller than he was and he was so proud of it (wanted us to install a security system in the house so nobody would steal it :-)).
My father, who had been coaching a local wrestling team for many years, had died just weeks before in July 1995 and so I was a little weepy when Henry won. I think my father would have been proud of him.
It's "funny" - I can still hear Henry's voice and when I close my eyes I still imagine him coming in through the front door after school. It's been almost 5 years now and I still miss him and I still have questions.
Happy Birthday, Henry! ♥