One person’s death diminishes us all

Published 6:28 pm Friday, September 11, 2020

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Whenever one hears of or learns about another person’s suicide, the first question people ask is “Why?”

To the person who ended his or her life, the question for them became an overwhelming, “Why not?”

Sometimes there’s an explanation left behind that might answer the survivors’ initial question, but there’s still a matter of coping with the loss.

The reasons for suicide can be varied, including mental illness and depression — if the two can be regarded as separate factors — or even a severe disruption in one’s life, such as failing health, the loss of a spouse or child or even job and home.

We suggest that when people become isolated from one another or their community for an extended period of time, their (already troubled) mental health can worsen. The time that we spent away away from one another during the early months of the pandemic likely didn’t help numerous individuals already in personal anguish.

We are reminded of John Donne’s brief essay, “Meditation XVII,” commonly known for this particular line: “… No man is an island, entire of itself … any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; …”

If you have so far gone through many years of life without somehow being made aware of another person’s (attempted) suicide, then you might also be living in a type of isolation. You are encouraged to connect with others for you might become a lifeline to someone so troubled … and they for you.

As the Rev. Nathan Decker of High Street UMC pointed out in his own recent essay in The Tidewater News (“When we wish the unthinkable,” Sept. 2), suicide isn’t only about the statistics. “They’re not just numbers … they are the hurting people waiting for us.”

This week of Sept. 6-12, indeed the whole month, is devoted to making people aware of how they can help prevent suicide. To learn more, visit or call the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.