There's been a lot of death talk lately. Just read a gorgeous piece of writing by Lawrence Hill about how he took his mother to Switzerland because at 90 she was ready to leave this world but even though Canada has made doctor-assisted suicide legal it's still very much "in some cases", and his mom didn't quite qualify.
There's been a lot of suicide talk, after Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain both recently chose to end their lives that way. My friend Gayle Brandeis wrote a piece about how we talk about this difficult subject here. Gayle should know; her own mother committed suicide. Social media discussions are everywhere—some say it's a selfish act. Others say no, it's not, because someone in that frame of mind is not capable of thinking clearly.
All too often depression creeps into these conversations. Depression is nasty. It can leave you feeling as if there's no chance that you'll ever feel anything but despair. So many people are nipped at by that black dog.
When I was 17 it was not such a good year, to paraphrase a song. As much as I could, I explored how I was feeling by writing about it. Poetry probably saved me. Here's a poem I wrote that year.
The eerie guise of moon and sand and sea
all fused together as I walked the shore,
seemed soft to whisper, wring your hands no more,
and to their blackest depths invited me.
I stood there for a while; time ceased to be.
The waves kept lapping softly at the shore
as time allowed my hidden thoughts to soar—
from cares and worries I longed to be free.
I knew that soon I had to make the choice
of going on or stopping there to rest
when suddenly I seemed to hear a voice—
it said to me, do what you know is best.
Which way to turn? How to avoid the strife?
I turned away, for I had chosen life.
If you are suffering, please reach out. Talk to a friend. Call the suicide hotline. Chances are things will not always appear so bleak.
Here's a list of the various provincial hotlines in Canada: