An entire community is hurting because a little girl jumped off a freeway overpass on South 48th Street. Most media outlets have been silent about this. When it comes to suicide, they are very cautious. Talking about suicides it’s said can inspire others to also commit suicide. The same is true of other violence. Copycat criminals are a real thing. But that doesn’t stop the media from reporting that. Every day we hear about gun violence on the news but two out of three gun deaths are the result of suicide and still more often than not, when it comes to suicide we are silent.
I can’t think of a problem that has gotten better by not talking about it. And so I choose to talk about suicide. I’m not going to pretend that a girl didn’t jump off the South 48th Street overpass. I am going to say that regardless of what was going on in her life I think she made the wrong choice. I think if she were still here and could see the community’s reaction to her death, she’d agree.
My previous post pointed out that public shaming was one of the likely causes of her decision to end her life. I’d like to also point out that it couldn’t possibly have been her sole reason. People who choose to kill themselves rarely do it because of one event. Much has been said about what else happened to her. Much has been said about the signs and how the school or her parents should have done something to stop it.
When I worked for the police department in police records, I transcribed a lot of suicide reports. The first one was a 13-year-old boy who shot himself. His note was full of thoughts I think everyone who has ever been thirteen has had. Over the next two years, I’d write up dozens more. Friends of mine have killed themselves. I’ve been suicidal at times myself. In every single case, there’s a part of me that wishes for one more conversation. I’m not a trained counselor or therapist, but I know that conversations change and sometimes save lives.
I’ve received numerous emails telling me that I shouldn’t be talking about suicide and pointing out the guidelines for talking about suicides. Some of those guidelines I agree with. Others I don’t. What I hope you get out of this article more than anything else is that if you’re feeling depressed or thinking of suicide, talk to someone. And keep talking.
If you have no one to talk to, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Personally, I’ve always felt that suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems. Things pass. There was a time when Robert Downey Jr. was a drug addicted prison inmate. Now he’s the highest paid actor in the world. That’s not likely to happen to most of us, but our lives can turn around in major ways when we least expect it. 2012 was probably the worst year of my life, but 2013 was arguably the best.
I started Tacoma Stories because I value everyone who lives in Tacoma and I wanted to talk about those that leave us. Every death impacts our city. If you’re from Tacoma or ever lived in Tacoma, then you’re a part of our city and we need you. We can only imagine what the young girl who jumped off the overpass last week might have brought to our city had she lived. It’s my hope that her reactions inspire people to live rather than die. And for public shaming to be viewed in the same way we view all other child abuse.
– Jack Cameron