I love finding different metaphors for the experience of “Life.” Recently, I used one I had not before as I commented on another writer’s lyrical article. I stated the following:
Life is a beautiful terrain, but it can be most uneven. How we navigate it is up to us.
Although I stand by these words, I would like to expound. Whether we call it a journey, a book or any other symbol, life can be most unfair, and the paths within its lovely landscape can begin or become treacherous. Some, whether it be a combination of luck, resilience, and tenacity, are able to find steady footing as they overcome the seemingly insurmountable trek of their surroundings. Others, sadly, even with staunch supporters do not feel they are able to do so and choose what should not have to be….
Taking one’s own life is not deemed heroic in western civilization. In fact, at one time, most religions considered it to be taboo. Now let me qualify this. I certainly understand the reason some people succumb. The pain whether it be physical, emotional or both can be so debilitating that an individual does not feel they can go on. With that said, many others who share a similar experience do not make this choice. I am not here to judge especially for those who endure great suffering, but there are more situations when this no-turning-back action is most unnecessary.
My greatest concern about discussing this phenomenon is that it is on the rise in the United States. Although we have great abundance in our society, there appears to be starvation in one area and that is around community and connection. Loneliness is increasing for many reasons, and the consequence is often suicide.
Last year, I wrote an article for Sixty and Me regarding the increase of suicide in the middle-aged female Caucasian population between 1998 and 2007 give and take a few years. There have been many articles written about this, and in the article on Sixty and Me, I shared my belief that purpose and connection were lacking for these women who reached such a pivotal turning point in their lives. Why this was not indicated in the minority population? In my humble opinion, the community continues to be quite significant and thriving in their lives.
Fast forward to these last few years, not only is suicide on the rise in general, but the rate of women taking their own lives is now outpacing men.
According to NCHS, the rate of women 45-64 increased from 6.2 per 100,000 in 2000 to 9.9 per 100,000 in 2016.
I am part of this age group and want to do everything to say again, “This should not be…” The theme of my overall work is that everyone is capable of getting unstuck even from this dire mindset because nothing stays the same. I will continue to promote this not just from professional experience but personal. As long as there is life, there is a chance to find steady ground.
Most disturbing if this has not been enough is that the suicide rate from ages 10 years old, that is correct 10, to age 24 has increased 56 percent from 2007 to 2017. There appear to be many variables around this, one being bullying which in itself is bad enough but with social media, this adds a level of shame and humiliation. In addition, there seems to be a glamourization of taking one’s life. Truly, if some of these young people could recognize that hopelessness could shift with the right help, they would forgo this extreme and irreversible measure.
Suicide continues to be ever-present in the aging population. As seniors get older, this seems to increase. Finally, due to PTSD, our heroic Veterans are most at risk. Both populations are too often forgotten and do not always recognize their own place in our fast-paced society.
Although there are other variables, what seems to be a common thread throughout all populations is a lack of human connection and, for some, purpose.
For those of us who are able to see life in another way, we must continue to avail ourselves and offer a message of hope. We need to remind all populations as they step along a treacherous path which unfortunately they have found themselves, a smoother landing might be within reach. As many people have written before me, when you have felt you are at your lowest point and can’t go on, taking another step may provide you a clue or even a glimpse of a possibility which you might never have imagined. Just think how sweet it could be.
What about you? Have you ever experienced a period of hopelessness? What has helped you remain hopeful? What keeps you connected? What gives you purpose? How do you try to promote a positive attitude in others? Do you believe, as I do, that helping others is the greatest service of all?
Darlene – You addresses a very different subject with compassion without being judgemental. Most importantly, you offer a simple solution in which all of us can participate – connect with others. This is easier than most people think. I smile at strangers and say hello all the time – I look at name tags and ask store clerks if they are having a good day – I joke and engage wait staff when eating out – when I visit church members in the hospital, I look for others who may need a kind word and prayer – I have helped folks put groceries on the belt if they are having trouble or have children requiring attention. In other words, simple acts of kindness to a stranger can change a very bad day to “another day.”. Thanks for tackling this subject and let me give you a ?
Hi Len, You are just lovely! Going the extra mile with small but such meaningful acts of kindness make all of the difference in the world. You are so right. Many people feel invisible in our fast-paced society, and sometimes a smile, a thank you can make all of the difference in the world, ways me may never know. Thank you for reading this and encouraging others (I saw on LinkedIn) to do the same. I am so appreciative that you shared. We are partners in “kind.” With a smile, Darlene?
Darlene – Thank you for your kind words.
Blessings Darlene, this is certainly a subject that touches many since long before. I struggled with the thought one day, but heard the voice, “Is this how much you love me”? It was God speaking to me to let me know that He loved me so much He suffered greatly and gave His life for my eternal soul. I don’t expect people to agree with my thought process, but because of my faith, I know that these words were true. However, the difference I learned is that all of us may have a weak moment or downside in life where we may question, “Is it worth it”? There are those whos emotions have been challenged, there is a chemical imbalance that may propel them to take their life. Still, God knows this. Thank you
Thank you for your lovely response. As I noted in an earlier reply to Jonathan, I, too, am a woman of faith and believe God helps me get through some of the travails of life. In my profession, the idea of a God is not celebrated by most. I have no problem indicating to colleagues or clients (when appropriate) that they can believe whatever the want, but I say, unabashedly, that I believe in God.
I remember your articles was one of the first I read and liked. I was pleased to see that God was allowed on these pages.?
We must always defend the Creator of our souls, and bless you for doing so
Thank you for sharing this. I have lost several friends this way over the years. It is so hard to understand why someone gives up. The is an important message you share.
Thank you as always for your thoughtful comments. I am sorry you experienced loss in this way. It is difficult to know what might have prevented the point of no return, but sadly, we do not. One of the greatest fears for a therapist is having someone commit suicide. In my years as a private practitioner, it happened to me early on, and although the family knew I was a main support and thanked me, it was still quite devastating. This was an example where once was too much. Thank you again!?
This truly a very heart-warming post, Darlene. Thank you kindly.
Yes, the subject matter is a very sad issue to reckon with, and I personally feel that apathy is largely to blame. In your conclusion you asked a few questions. I shall respond to your questions from my personal point of view.
What about you?
Of course, each one of us have experienced many a low moment in your lives, but I feel that some sort of appreciation from within ourselves or from others will enable us to climb up to the mountain top… and perhaps shout out,”Yes, I did it”
Have you ever experienced a period of hopelessness?
In my early years, YES, but since getting involved in humanitarian programs, there have been numerous moments of hopelessness…but then, even in the darkest of moments, when I realized that I believe in and worship a God who specializes in things thought impossible….. the ray of hope ‘tickled’ my heart, that Hope brought me to the conscious level of gratitude and thankfulness and most importantly the Opportunity to use those talents entrusted to me to be of assistance to those who were unable to do so under those specific circumstances.
What has helped you remain hopeful?
With every small success, I realized that the impossible was possible only if I did what was possible and tackle the next “impossible bit”
What keeps you connected?
Hope in God, in His promises and the many assurances He gave us, and love and care for those around me. I did not specifically understand this love or the care/concern – it just became an automatic reaction to the hope welling within that I can do “something”.
What gives you purpose?
A sincere and a deep appreciation for LIFE in general. And yes, I do believe that LIFE stands for Living in Faith Everywhere. Without Hope, Faith and Love – nothing is possible.
How do you try to promote a positive attitude in others?
By example. It is that simple and it is also contagious.
Do you believe, as I do, that helping others is the greatest service of all?
An emphatic – YES…… absolutely.
“Everyone has a purpose in life and a unique talent to give to others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.” Kallam Anji Reddy
Thank you, Darlene, for sharing your message with us, and Stay Blessed.
Thank you for your beautiful, thoughtful and poignant response. All of us experience the depths of despair. Life can be quite arduous. Like you, I believe in God and in the possibilities and more than not I am grateful. In addition, I share your quest to serve others as I hope to continue to do so all the days of my life. Thank you for all you do, and I look forward to reading more of your articles.
Darlene, the statistics you reported for women and the demographic are sobering. Truly. I feel that your questions and dialogue that you are asking us – your readers to discuss are wonderful ones and it gives me time to think – gosh – I too, can so relate to what you are writing. At this point of life a purpose, a meaning, a niche does feel like a driving force. I can only imagine for other women what it must feel like for them as well. The fact of the suicide rates that you presented speak volumes. I do help women too with the work I do look at themselves at a soul level. I believe that helps form some type of meaning for them. For me, what now keeps me going is family, my appreciating simple and small things, crediting good health and that I still have years to create, and the knowledge that things can change in a flash.
As for a positive attitude and service – I do my darndest to give my all in this category. I feel that focussing outside of myself – eventually feeds those days I feel lacking inside of purpose or meaning.
I very much enjoyed you fostering interaction and what you presented in the post. Is that not the key to exploring truly hearing what people have to say to foster new alternatives for them. I feel more connected to other women and also more compassionate with them as well.
Thank you, Darlene.?
Thank you dear Maureen for your deep and thoughtful commentary. Your work on the soul level is invaluable. Thank you for such a beautiful service and sharing your knowledge of numerology. Your daily offerings are magical! You are helping in ways you may never know. Thank you again!?
Thank you dear Laura for beautiful and thought-provoking comment. I am so appreciative. It is such a difficult topic, but once I saw the stats on the younger generation, I felt a need to pen this. As always, I am grateful for your exquisite words, your honesty & your courage. Thank you again!?
What an important topic that you’ve addressed here, Darlene. As someone who has experienced many dark nights, difficult challenges as well as a brief period of suicidal ideation in my 20s (a catalyst to finally courageously break my silence by seeking the support of a therapist), I know how important reaching out for help can be. I also lived the experiences with my son as a teenager when I almost lost him on two separate occasions. What gave me hope was this fierce/playful/alive part of me that could connect with nature, that could connect with my imagination, that could be in different situations with other people and notice some relief-sometimes a stark contrast-between the dark/light. Books, movies, my dad and grandma’s love, often gave me great hope that something else was possible-that tiny, beautiful moments could happen even in the midst of godawful. I trained myself to look for the crumbs of goodness wherever I could find them and begin to gather them in a basket inside my heart. Smiles from strangers, kindness exchanged between two strangers in front of me, loving words spoken to me by a complete stranger, or my ability to speak or act in kind ways towards others-the loving response that seemingly spontaneously happened when I did so-all helped me “stay connected.” Connecting to God/Universe/Love -something beyond myself really helped too-and I did eventually shed the image of God being this dead man with a white beard floating in the sky. I had “spiritual experiences” which the positive emotions’ scientists could now document as actual experiences of love/Love.
The way I know to “promote a positive attitude in others” is to give them space to let go-in safe/healthy ways of all the unresolved pain in their hearts, bodies, spaces, and beings. Usually people need tools/skills in emotional health-grieving, raging, trauma resolution, flowing experiences through our bodies-not holding onto anything that is toxic for our well being. This often allows that true self to naturally emerge free of the layers-sometimes ancestral layers of gunk.
Sourcing myself and compassionately guiding others to the empowerment, love, and grace already inside of them is what I love being/doing. Holistic transformations-space, body, heart, mind, and soul.
Thank you so much for asking such great questions, for shining a light on the difficult, heart wrenching topic of suicide. (And for bravely doing so because I think this tragic challenge in our world seems to still be shrouded in shame.)