Dealing with suicide

There is so much to love about life.

My 5-year-old niece started kindergarten on Tuesday, and as I sat talking with my older sister about how she was going to deal with it, she said, “I just can’t believe how fast the time goes.”

I remember holding my niece for the first time in the hospital. I remember watching her toddle around, say her first few sentences, and graduate to official “big kid” status after being potty-trained.

And now she’s off to school every day, by herself, learning and growing.

I started thinking about how short life is, how valuable it is, about all the things that are important to me and why. How you can’t take anything with you when you go, except the memories and knowledge and love you gain while here?

All this was on my mind when I came across an article this week about fellow “American Idol” contestant Fantasia Barrino, who attempted suicide by overdosing on aspirin and a sleep aid.

At that moment, I wanted out. I wanted it to be over with, all of it,” said Fantasia in a VH1 Behind the Music interview, which aired Tuesday.

I was very saddened to hear this news. Having a father who is a psychiatrist, I’ve heard many, many times over the years how precious life is and no matter what you’re going through, death is never the answer. He made it a point to talk to us very candidly but appropriately about suicide and how devastating it is for the family left behind. Things eventually turn around, get better, work themselves out over time. Everyone goes through tough times – everyone has hard days, hard months, hard years. We were taught to hang in there through the toughest of it and it would be well worth it in the end.

Suicide is, I believe, one of the most heartbreaking things to deal with. It is completely selfish on the side of the one attempting it, because even though they just “want out” it’s never that easy for all the loved ones who remains behind.

So how does a well-known celebrity who has had so much success in her short life go from such a high point to hitting rock bottom?

“I was tired of people doing me wrong, constantly, over and over again, dealing with my family — my father, dealing with men … I was tired,” she says. “My head was hurting me. I was over it.”

Luckily Fantasia’s manager, Brian Dickens, found her and was able to get her to a hospital. She said this about her recovery:

“My nurse, Melanie, was a blessing into my life because she didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear. She told me what I needed to hear. And she looked at me and said, ‘You gotta get up and you gotta get out of here ’cause you haven’t fulfilled your destiny.’ “

I think about my precious 5-year-old niece and all of the wonderful life experiences she has ahead of her. I think of my son who is just starting out with life, so full of curiosity and energy and innocence. They have the world at their fingertips; their “destiny’s” are yet to be discovered. I hope and pray they will retain their love of life, even when times inevitably get tough.

Thankfully Fantasia has learned from being in such a “heavy” place.

“That was somewhere I don’t ever want to go again.”

Have you or a loved one ever experienced such a devastating thing as suicide? What are some things you did to cope with the “heavy” feelings? How can we teach our children the importance of life and sticking to it through the dark times?

Leave a comment encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.