Tag: suicide

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The New Yorker has a piece on Godelieva De Troyer’s sad life and wretched death, and uses it as a framework to consider the ethical dilemmas associated with doctor-assisted suicide. When I came to this sentence, I almost laughed out loud: Opponents have warned for years that legalization will lead to a “slippery slope,” but […]

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Is Dementia the Death of the Self?


Suicide in the context of terminal illness, or a loss of quality of life, physician-assisted suicide … I have conflicting feelings. I am adamantly opposed to physician-assisted suicide. If people want to kill themselves, they can acquire their own means to do so. Yes, this is a disadvantage to some, but by insisting all have the same opportunity we open the doors wide for abuse.

These thoughts are shaped by my religious beliefs, as well as my experiences with kids and adults with developmental disabilities, and my work with medical patients. I certainly don’t expect anyone who doesn’t share my religious beliefs to agree.

Veteran Suicide Remains a Problem


shutterstock_181602527According to a 2013 Veterans Affairs study, approximately 22 veterans take their own lives every day. That is a staggering 8,030 soldiers a year. In a recent article, former Army Ranger and author Sean Parnell points out that the cause of these disturbing numbers remains unknown. He suggests that it may have to do with the Veterans Administration’s process for identifying and treating soldiers with suicidal ideation:

Given the well-documented challenges in getting access to VA services, there’s little reason to believe a gigantic dysfunctional bureaucracy can respond with the appropriate speed and sensitivity needed for a veteran struggling with thoughts of suicide.

Parnell isn’t wrong. The VA is the Gordian Knot of bureaucratic disasters. How much they are to blame for suicides can only be speculated at but, considering how many individuals have died by accident while under the care of the VA, it’s not an unreasonable suggestion.

Losing a Friend You Didn’t Know You Lost


shutterstock_115558456Like most days, this morning I woke up, kissed my wife, and then got on my phone to see what I missed overnight. I am much more of a Twitter guy, but lately I have been looking at Facebook more.

I went to high school in rural Central Virginia and graduated in 1988. A multi-class reunion has been planned and the organizers are using Facebook to manage the guest list and to allow people to talk about the event and share memories.

This was posted today:

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We saw her gravestone the first day we came to look at the house. The seller’s real estate agent, I don’t fault him in the least, said something non-committal, such as, “Mmmm. Yeah. I think that was one of the previous owners. Not related to my clients.” She was 42-years-old, the mother of four sons, […]

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Something bothered me greatly in the discussion of the 9/11 attacks.  Many, many people jumped from the burning Twin Towers.  These jumps were sometimes described in terms of “dying with dignity,” as if the people were choosing to kill themselves before they were killed by the fire.  I just watched a video of a man […]

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Genius and Suffering


Why are human beings never content? No matter how much civilization advances, no matter how affluent and secure we become, no matter how much knowledge and opportunity we amass, it’s never enough. Why? Because we know there’s more to be had. We know it can be better. The very thing that enables us to conquer the natural world — imagination — also robs us of an animal’s simple focus. 

Why are persons with extraordinary minds so often miserable when alone, even if they are genuinely joyful and amiable among others? Because they are forever taunted by their own vivid dreams and nightmares, by bold hopes, and by a thousand “What if…?” scenarios for every lost opportunity. Simply put, their appreciation of what is flounders beneath a relentless shadow of what could be.

We Salute You, Robin Williams


There are millions of Robin Williams videos being shared online in the wake of his death, all of us trying to get a handle on what we’ve suddenly lost. But I’ve got a clip here you probably haven’t seen. Five or six years ago Robin Williams did a USO tour for our troops. He was fresh out of rehab; maybe he was trying to get some healing for himself by giving back a little.

At some point in his routine, Williams is interrupted in dramatic fashion. Before you know it, he’s living through a comic’s worst nightmare, and the entire audience has literally turned its back on him. But he handles the situation just as you would hope.

That Lonely, Dark Place


Grey BeachAt the risk of nauseating Rob Long, I offer a few words on suicide, about which I have learned more than I would have cared to.

I’ve seen many sorrows in more than 30 years as a cop, but the images that haunt me most are the suicides.  My first, when I was just weeks out of the police academy, happened on the beach.  A woman called the police to report her husband missing, and it was my partner and I who were assigned the call.  The woman greeted us at the door of a beautiful home near the beach, showing us inside to take in the trappings of what was – or had been – a prosperous life.  There had been financial setbacks, she told us, and she was worried that her husband would not be able to cope with the sudden change in the family’s fortunes.  They kept a gun in the house, and when her husband did not come home as expected she feared the worst.  When she found that the gun was not in its customary place, she called the police.

It was wintertime, or what passes for wintertime in Los Angeles: gray skies, a bit of drizzle, and a biting wind coming off the ocean.  My partner and I began to trudge across the sand of what appeared to be a deserted beach.  But there was someone out there, down near the water.  From a distance, he looked to be sleeping.  Or perhaps he was just gazing up at the passing clouds.  But as we got closer we could see the gun near his hand, and then the blood in the sand, and then the wound in the side of his head.