Monday, November 13, 2006

Suicide


Last week I learned that one of my classmates from high school, another Waverly Viking, had died. His funeral was the next day, so I attempted to reach as many of my other classmates as I could. In talking to one guy, we were speculating on whether our deceased classmate was involved in an accident or an illness of some kind. It wasn't until much later in the evening that it even crossed my mind that it might have been a suicide. Surely enough, I got back an e-mail from another classmate who had heard it had been a suicide. I was unable to attend the funeral, so I don't know any other details. However, in cases like this, I don't really need to know any of the cause-of-death details. The details I did learn were tragic enough: He left behind a wife, two daughters (one still in high school) and at least one grandchild.

I remember Doug as pretty much just another face in the crowd like me, not a jock, not Homecoming King, not a petty thug, just common everyday class fodder. I remember hearing him laugh in the hallway in between classes and saying "Hi" sometimes when we'd meet. I remember he was a nice guy and never caused me any grief during those often emotionally turbulent teenage years. I will always praise anyone who did not burden me during those sometimes trying times.

As a result of this news, my writing took a more introspective turn last week. At times I'd ponder why my classmate made the ultimate choice in going past the point of no return. I know all the reasons I've contemplated it over the years, but I don't know why he decided to hang it up one final time.

I found that not only was I going more within, but so were my characters. They were more in tune and reflective about their actions. They created a few interesting nuances in their story, but for the most part they reserved their wild impulses and considered future consequences for their actions. They're forging onward a little more this week, braver to explore new frontiers, yet they're forever changed. As am I.

May you find peace, Doug.

3 Comments:

Blogger Robin L. Rotham said...

This is what writing is all about, isn't it? I feel very lucky to have the ability to absorb events like this, run them through the convoluted filters of my mind, and then verbalize them through my writing. It's a very cathartic way of dealing with life's challenges that can be helpful to others, as well.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Parker said...

Diana, I hope to God if any of us ever does contemplate suicide, we'll tell one of our friends before going ahead with it. Maybe something could be said that would stop such a tragic waste.

6:46 PM  
Blogger Melissa Marsh said...

I've lost three family members to suicide - my great-grandmother, and two of her sons, my great-uncles. It's a very scary thing - but it is also so very unnecessary. Granted, two of those suicides happened before mental illness was looked upon as a disease which you could find treatment for - but not the last one. And I remember the intense anger my father had when his uncle killed himself - he had a very difficult time with the whole thing.

9:57 AM  

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