On the news the other night I heard the CDC report, “Research has found about 90% of individuals who die by suicide experience mental illness.” My question for the CDC is.. what about the other 10%? What else would cause someone to die by suicide? I feel like they are leaving that 10% wide open for blame. Our culture is very good about blaming others for someone’s suicide. Most people who don’t understand suicide or never been touched by suicide would look at my husband’s death and say to themselves, “I love my husband and he loves me…it would never happen to us.” I’m pretty sure those same people would be shocked to hear that I loved my husband and he loved me too. Yes, he had his problems..lots of them..but he still loved me. It is easier to blame a catalyst instead of looking into someone’s condition.
My late husband was a cop. After he killed himself I reached out to his chief twice only to be ignored…twice. Many officers view suicide as a “black mark” against the department…a weakness. It was much easier for his job to blame his suicide on “martial issues” and move on as quickly as possible..leaving me to choke in their dust. Conveniently, the police report left out the part in his suicide letter where he blamed the police department for his death. Also missing from evidence is the information on the “mysterious” black lace around my husband’s neck at the time of his death. Brett used a suicide bag to end his life and the black lace wound around his neck was also his black police shoe lace. Brett had over 20 different pairs of shoes…even had shoe laces still inside the box downstairs where he killed himself in the garage. But my husband went upstairs to his closet and chose that particular pair of shoes…his police shoes. If that doesn’t have symbolism..I don’t know what does! But I do not blame the police department. I do not blame our marriage. I do not blame myself. Brett died of a mental illness…clinical depression.
Look…I’m writing all of this tonight because the holidays can be hard, but for those surviving a suicide loss…it’s even that much harder…it’s devistating. If you are blaming yourself for your loved one’s death…don’t. If you are someone blaming another for your loved one’s death…don’t. If we keep blaming a catalyst we are never going to get people the help they deserve. Mental health and physical health need to be looked at the same way. Do we blame others for someone getting cancer? Then why would we blame ourselves for someone else’s mental illness?