Simplifying the Semantics of Suicide

This is part 1 of a 4-part series on Simplifying the Semantics of Suicide.

A good friend commented about our posting regarding those the mentally ill have left behind a few days ago. She was genuinely concerned about daily interactions with people struggling, not only with mental illness, but with addictions and even issues that one may consider to be self-imposed.

Regardless of all the differences of the why we find ourselves stuck, the similarities of the how to get through deserve more focus.

Over time society has redefined and, perhaps, made judgments on those mired in suicide’s depths without truly understanding all the intricate components.

Ann and I have talked at length, and we have shared with our children, how our story may be different from that of so many others.

happy groupWhy are we so happy in the midst of things that have devastated others? How have we made it work for us while others aren’t so fortunate? What created the safe haven where we can communicate so openly and honestly and vulnerably about our pain, and at the same time genuinely laughing about it?

Semantics are what people connote something to be, rather than what it really may be. We need to narrow that gap between what we think we know, and what we probably should know.

I readily acknowledge that I will stumble over this as I try to put words to the indescribable.

But I think it is worth trying anyway.

Ann and I are a unique combination of human beings. We often joke that we are saving two other people a lot of misery.

But, the truth is that we have saved each other from potentially indescribable misery that has not been allowed to become reality, and we will continue to work hard to ensure that it never will.

Together we have learned how to walk the fine line between being lonely vs. being alone, empathizing vs. enabling, and a life that hurts vs. one that just sucks. In the next few days I’d like to post thoughts on these concepts – each are worth deeper probing.

clouds4I’ve thought long and hard how this miracle has become part of our lives. I attest that miracle is the right word, as the definition of a miracle is something that occurs that otherwise would not have naturally.

Mosiah 3:19 has become part of my daily prayer, my monthly fast:

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

I’ve wondered if our secret is simply love. Or is it more about trust? Or is the main difference our understanding of the bigger picture?

Certainly all of these are critical components.

But I think the biggest contributor to our success is not so much as an abundance of something, but rather the complete absence of it.


One of the emotions expressed about a loved one’s suicide is that of anger. We are so angry at such a selfish act that obviously reflects only feelings about the depressed and not of those who are left behind to pick up the pieces.

One of the things you hear from family members of those who are mentally ill or severely depressed is anger that they aren’t trying a little harder to meet the rest of the family at least part way.

One of the frustrations you hear from the mentally ill is anger that none of their loved ones can possible understand just how hard this is.

One of the rationalizations made is that the mental illness makes one biologically angry and is just a part of who they are. The family should be able to look past it.

Ann and I have been through all of them.

angerIn fact, I have spent far too much of my life being an angry person. In its own way, anger is power and strength and a weapon to combat all that is unfair.

Naturally so.

But in utilizing what was natural, I was blocking all the unnatural possibilities waiting for me.

To put it incredibly simplistically, we found the chemotherapy for the cancer that is anger: mine is called Ann; I would like to think that hers is called Greg, and both of us receive continuous treatments we call Alex and Nick.

Yes, it is enraging that they cannot conceive the madness in my head.


Yes, it is exhausting that I can’t let down my guard against negative emotions even fractionally for a moment.

Yes, it is infinitely unfair that there are so many activities and adventures that are closed to our family because of my mental illness.


Yes, it is cruelly selfish that my feelings and needs are always the first consideration and theirs relegated as secondary.

But to put it in Ann’s eternally wise words: It is what it is, now let’s move forward.


And we do –

Because at the end of the day:

Her love is greater than my pain; and my love is greater than her fear.

Unnaturally so.


4 thoughts on “Simplifying the Semantics of Suicide”

  1. So beautifully explained. And how is it possible that we find this unnatural ability to love beyond our weaknesses? Because He (Christ) loved us first.

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