Thursday, July 1, 2010

Suicide

I've written two novels. In both stories there are many ideas and themes that made their way in without my having to intentionally put them there. For instance, in each book, a central character is suicidal at the beginning. Furthermore, it’s part of the premise of a novel I’m planning.

I write about things and people that reflect who I am and my experiences. Obviously, I’ve never committed suicide, nor have I known anyone who did. But I do have some personal experience in that area. After you’ve attempted suicide, it’s hard to admit to anyone, even yourself, that you felt those feelings, did those things. But I can never forget where I've been. It makes life that much more precious, even ten years later.

In my writing, the suicidal characters are both female. (Maybe that’s a subconcious attempt to distance them from myself.) In Aersh, Tuatha is the embodiment of all my anger. She’s trapped in a bad situation with no out, and decides to strike out against her oppressor in a sabotage mission that will end in her death. In a way, she’s courageous, but she’s still checking out of life early. Her relationship to my own experience is metaphorical.

In The Sense, I never intended for Leah to become so much like me. I gave her the gift of a perfect memory, and somehow it became a curse. She finds herself trapped by memories of every mistake she’s ever made. Still, she doesn’t have Tuatha’s horrible past. She’s not trapped on a spaceship, forced to fight an unjust war. She’s never killed anyone. She still has family. Superficially, there’s nothing in her life bad enough to justify wanting to end it—her reasons are all internal. She has no excuses, no good reasons, and no hope. She walks to a cliff over a river, intending to kill herself. It’s not courageous, and there’s no higher purpose. Leah only wants to end the pain. Then Esha stops to help.


What happens next is that Esha uses her newfound supertalent to fix Leah’s memory problem. It’s essentially magic, but there’s much more happening here.

I, the author, put someone in Leah’s path who can help her, and even though she’s been let down so many times before, she accepted the help. Esha’s presence was enough to keep Leah from jumping, and Leah did her part by taking the hand that was offered to her. It’s the beginning of the book, and Leah’s problems come back. When they do, there’s someone else there to help her. Eventually, she’ll be the one offering help.

This isn’t metaphorical or magic—it’s what really happens. Thousands of people Leah’s age attempt suicide. It’s a part of life for many of us, one that we rarely discuss.

Suicidal tendencies don’t make for a good first impression. When the subject comes up in conversation, you don’t say anything. The people who know what you did don’t mention it, either. 



You know that what you’ve been through was painful and difficult. You know you’ve overcome great obstacles, and should be proud of yourself. You also know that you tried to kill someone dear to those you love. You nearly put them through all the pain and sorrow of losing a loved one. You are the victim and the murderer.

3 comments:

  1. It's unfortunate people can't or don't know how to approach the subjects of depression and suicide. I've been *there* but lived to tell about it. Now it's my mission to get others to do the same and I think sometimes all it takes is a single person to offer a hand or lead the way. To show that person in need, they're not alone.
    Fantastic post and excerpt.

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  2. Whoo-boy. This brings back a lot of memories of my own. Remind me to share them sometime soon. I love you, and admire you, without reserve!

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