Once again, the below link is my friend, Dr. Adele McDowell’s article in the Canadian Huffington Post on suicide. For those of you contemplating suicide, have loved one(s) who died from suicide, or health practitioners who have dealt with issues of suicide with their clients – this is a must read!
As a former psychotherapist, as a young daughter of a father who talked about committing suicide, and as a grown woman when I remembered being sexually abused and feeling at my lowest, Dr. McDowell’s words spoke to me personally and professionally. For my adolescent years, the “straw that broke the camel’s back” for my father was after a series of failed businesses in the United States, when our chicken farm went bankrupt, my father felt a total failure and didn’t know how our family could survive this last circumstance. While my father bemoaned his losses, starting with losing his wealth, status and class when we escaped from Communist China, my mother immediately went out to work to put food on the table. Because of her quick action and her willingness to work for minimum wage, she saved our family from total loss. However, it still took a long time for my father to get over all these failures, and added to that, the fact that his wife saved the day rather than him, made it harder for him to bear.
As a child, I was afraid I’d lose my father – then, what would we do? And, from my mother, I learned that pride had no place when the family had no food to eat. However, growing up with a suicidal parent must have had some affect on my psyche. When I remembered the sexual abuse, in conjunction with physical and emotional abuse, I remembered my father’s suicidal mantra and wondered, if indeed, that was a way out for me. At the time, I’d already been divorced, but I did have my adult children to help me through this period – for which I am truly grateful.
It was also Dr. McDowell who helped all of us through one of the most trying time of our lives, following the death of my mother. I had a lot of unresolved issues with her at the time of her death, and when she died, I knew there was no way they would be resolved with her. Not that they would have resolved even had she lived, but that her death made it final, made it real. I know I had suicidal thoughts, but they never went as far as making any definite plans or taking any definite actions. But, it scared my children so much that they sought Dr. McDowell’s counsel and got us all talking about what was going on. I am extremely grateful to both my children for doing that, as well as Dr. McDowell for speaking with us.
Professionally, and ironically, the majority of my clients were adult survivors of child sexual abuse. Many of them had suicidal ideations. And, it wasn’t until I remembered my own abuse that I was able to help them in a way that I couldn’t before. They knew I understood how they felt. They couldn’t say, “You don’t understand” because they knew I did. On the other hand, they couldn’t get away with hiding, justifying, rationalizing or denying either – because, again, I did understand and had gone through all those ways myself. And, with intensive therapy and soul work, I am grateful that I had the right people resources to make it through.
I had one client who actually succeeded in committing suicide. I immediately sought counseling because all those questions that Dr. McDowell asks in the article, “Did I do enough, what else could I have done, could I have prevented this, etc” were the same questions that I asked at the time. I learned that I did all I could do, that the final decision isn’t mine. And, this was later confirmed by her husband. He told me that she lasted longer with me in therapy than the many other therapists she had gone to, so he had hoped that this time, she would make it. He told me that the many other times she attempted suicide, she’d always left signs for people to find her. This time, she did not! He told me how grateful he was that I had gotten through to her as much as I did, but that she had already made up her mind.
Please read Dr. McDowell’s article: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/adele-mcdowell/understanding-suicide-grief_b_7950622.html. And, also her more in-depth book, “Making Peace With Suicide”, on the current happenings in this arena as well as the groundbreaking ways to heal.