A woman committed suicide this week. I did not know her, however family members did. Through Facebook, I put together the pieces of a somber puzzle.
I first saw the status update of someone who witnessed her death. They did not know each other, she didn’t know her name. It was happenstance that put my friend in front of the building when this lady jumped.
Hours later, there were vague posts from others saying “so sad about” and “RIP”. By connecting the nameless, vague dots I realized that the woman that these people were mourning killed herself. But no one’s talking about that.
Everyone’s words are carefully crafted to avoid suggesting that it was suicide. Her obituary has the typical scrubbed language: “died suddenly”. But that’s not even true. Suicide is not like getting hit by a bus; it is not something that happens in an instant that ends a life.
When someone dies from cancer, the obituary will read “after a brave battle with…”. Isn’t suicide also the end of a battle? Setting aside the common “selfish” argument, a battle with mental illness is not unlike a battle with cancer. In both cases there is something wrong with your body’s function. Whether it’s a malfunction of the brain or a growing tumor, it is something that needs treatment.
A battle with cancer is talked about. Women who beat breast cancer row boats and run marathons to publicly and proudly boast their victory and to support other women who are in battle. No one talks about the battle with mental illness. I’ve never seen a 5K for depression.
I’m certainly in no position to judge. I silently struggle with mental illness from the safety of this anonymous blog. I presume the woman who killed herself this week also battled her illness silently. It’s a reminder to us all that the silence is deadly.