Clendaniel: My brother’s suicide prompts this plea to you

Few issues in life are more difficult for healthy, happy people to understand than the mindset of people who die by suicide.

I know.

My oldest brother killed himself in 1983 at the age of 31. Ever since, I’ve done what those left behind so often do: Wonder what I could have done — no, should have done — to prevent it.

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The issue was again in the public eye last week when news broke that fashion designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain had taken their lives.

The same week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the news that suicide rates had risen steadily in nearly every state from 1999 to 2016, increasing by 14.8 percent in California and 25 percent nationally.

It’s heartbreaking to realize that nearly 45,000 Americans died by their own hand in 2016, making it the 10th leading cause of death.

There must be something more we can do to help those in need.

But, for me, the thought of revisiting my brother’s death and the pain it caused can be overwhelming in ways that I still fail to fully comprehend. I almost always avoid talking about it. When I heard the news about Spade and Bourdain my first thought was to do whatever necessary to put it out of my mind. Don’t read the stories. Don’t talk about it. Don’t think about it. Focus instead on anything — North Korea, traffic woes, affordable housing, the Giants’ game — to avoid bringing back those nightmares.

My brother wouldn’t want that. This I also know. He was a man who had an opinion on everything and wasn’t afraid to share it (it runs in the family). He wasn’t one to avoid talking about an issue. He’d want us to find something positive that could come out of his experience.

So that’s what led to two conversations in the last week with Toni Tullys, Santa Clara County’s Director of Behavioral Health Services.

One of the first things I learned from Tullys is that calls to the county’s suicide crisis hotline (855-278-4204) were up 25 percent last week. On average, the county has six well-trained staff members and 100 volunteers answering the 750 weekly calls (roughly 3,000 each month) made to the hotline, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Calls are also up in other parts of the Bay Area and California.

“It’s really important to reach out to people who are struggling and find ways to help them,” said Tullys. “We need to have more conversations that focus on depression and finding ways to talk to people who may be contemplating suicide. We would all benefit if people weren’t so afraid to talk about these issues and share with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.”

Many people are afraid to get involved out of uncertainty over what to do or fear that they may say the wrong …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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