Thursday, January 7, 2010

The S Word



There come times in life where two completely different spheres of life somehow cosmically connect.

This week, BB has been sharing some shockingly-personal experiences about an attempt at suicide, which (in a way) helped me prepare for a lengthy and worrisome discussion with a friend who has been facing the same gay/Mormon conundrum. For that reason, I’ve decided to dedicate some writing to this topic, so that I might better understand suicide and its prevention and hopefully make a difference in the life of someone who needs to help someone or be heard.

Some Background:

There was a time in my life that I struggled to understand why anyone would ever consider suicide (enough so for me to outline a paper on why West Side Story is a superior work of art to Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet). How could life get so bad that death would be a suitable alternative? romeo-and-juliet-DVDcover

High school was an incredibly idealistic time for me; however, once I left that world and made my way out into the real world—out of the bubble of Utah Mormon culture and into the mission field—I began to understand that the real world was composed of the shades of grey I’d only begun to recognize in art and literature.

I came home a different person emotionally, physically, mentally, and psychologically. I had the best and the worst experiences of my entire life (including an emotional breakdown— all of which I’ll detail more in the future), allowing me to empathize and connect with practically every person I’ve come in contact with since then.

A Struggle:

Things are different once they’re knocking at the back door, demanding your hospitality, your attention, and a cup of sugar.

It was like any other Saturday night. Grandma always called my father (her favorite son) to talk about her week and how things were going with the rest of the family. The call lasted only a few minutes before he called me and my brother to dinner twenty minutes early.

“Boys,” he said in a husky whisper, “you’re cousin Tanner’s dead.”

Tanner was nearly forty, reconciled after a brief period of estrangement with his wife. He put the kids to bed, kissing both of them on the forehead, took half a bottle of pain medication, and then fell asleep holding his wife in his arms.


In the moment, as my father described what had happened, only one thing went through my head. My reaction was anger—anger at taking a father from his children, a son from his parents, and a husband from his wife. The greater frustration, though, came later. It was not the matter of loss (for that was all too common and understandable), but rather my own inability to understand why a seemingly happy man would do such a thing.

To be honest, despite all of the sincere efforts I made to understand—from talking to my family to reading about suicide on the internet—I just couldn’t find an answer.

I’ve said before that figuring out and accepting my homosexuality became the key to understanding so many other aspects of life. This is one of those aspects.

End, Part 1lifelinewebbutton_200x200


Mister Curie said...

You weren't kidding when you said upcoming posts were going to be serious.

Quiet Song said...

I had intended to write about "means reduction" on my blog and had not reached a point where I was ready. Here is a link to get you started:

Was Tanner's death conclusively a suicide or could it have been accidental? Or is it unclear?

El Genio said...

BB's posts have been heart wrenching to read. That kind of conflict, or loneliness that leads to such a dark path is something that no one should have to experience.

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

@Mr. Curie: Next week, I'll have a back-to-basics series on my dating life. More laughs and fun for a bit.

@Quiet Song: Tanner did leave a note which his father found. I think I have time to incorporate that information into the final part.

@El Genio: I can't agree more.

Madame Curie said...

I agree that BB's posts have been heart-wrenching, and difficult to read.

My girlfriend in high school attempted suicide our freshman year. Her parents responded poorly, which made the situation even more difficult. They didn't understand the depth of her pain, and she couldn't explain it.

In my experience, when a person who attempts or commits suicide is in a romantic relationship, the suicide is also difficult for the significant other's perspective. In my case, my girlfriend once told me that I had "saved her life" by showing her that she was lovable. From that moment forward, I was constantly afraid that my love would never be a sufficient tether to mortality. Nevermind that our love was non-traditional (we are both women), and I was constantly afraid for her sake that she couldn't handle the label of homosexual.

I wish for a world where parents were better educated at dealing compassionately with homosexuality and teenage suicide.

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

Mme Curie-- "I wish for a world where parents were better educated at dealing compassionately with homosexuality and teenage suicide."


I had not considered the emotional toll taken on the significant other until a recent breakup. Asked to eliminate contact with homosexuals and return to the church, I worry that suicide is on a dear friend's mind following his decision to excise that part of his life.

Anonymous said...

The lingering, persistent, and horrid question of "WHY?" never goes away. It makes things almost unbearable, running around in your mind, why did they do it? Why did they do it to me? Did they not love me enough? If it wasn't about me and loving me, then why did they do it? And so on.

I'm afraid the only thing that makes things a little easier to deal with is the passing of time. But still to this day, on the day my cousin died, I fall into a horrible depression and isolate myself. Some of the pain from suicide is permanent.

This is a good post, I commend you for it. :]

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

@James: Thanks for weighing in on this. Blame and shame make for a destructive team. You're certainly right to point out that everyone tied to the one committing suicide carries on the hurt in a different form.

I guess you could say suicide is more a transference of those feelings than an actual escape.

Dean Grey said...

I'm sorry to hear about your cousin.

I think the bigger concern isn't how Tanner could do such a thing to your family but why he did it.

Maybe he felt his family would be better off without him? Maybe he was unhappy in life?

But in the end it really doesn't change the fact that he's gone and if you keep wondering why, you'll never be able to move on from it.

Sometimes things just go unanswered in life.


Anonymous said...

I guess I'll chime in here. I always thought to myself "why would somebody commit suicide?" - because in my view, you can always get out of whatever bad situation you're in. You can always hit the reset button and start over. New career, new town, new everything. Things are bound to be better.

But that assumes that one's suicidal influences are external. But often, they are internal. You can never get away from this. Everywhere you go - your demons follow. I am close to someone who has attempted suicide in the past - and has talked about suicide in the present. He struggles with it at all times. There is a deep emotional pain that has been present constantly. No psychotherapy or drugs help. No religion or progressive therapies make a difference. He is constantly depressed - and as far as he sees, suicide is the only cure. In my friend's case - his depression and suicidal thoughts are not related to homosexuality.

He has been seeking help for over 20 years now - and according to him, has never made any progress. When I said to him that maybe the therapy and medication were working, because he was still here with us, he said he wished he had been successful in his prior suicide attempt, and then he wouldn't have suffered every day for the last 20 years.

It's quite sad. I think for some - there may be no answer for their problem.

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