I attempted suicide when I was sixteen. Over the almost fifty years since, I have told very few people. I’ve only shared when the importance of disclosure felt greater than my desire for privacy. I have shared with others who have survived suicide attempts. I’ve also shared with those in danger of succumbing to their suicidal urges—when the sharing of my personal experience would have more impact than my professional experience—when it might save a life.
Suicide is not a conversation-friendly topic. Like most provocative subjects, it makes people uncomfortable and can generate rigid opinions. But, there has never been a greater need for education on the complexities of suicide. One thing shrinks know for sure about suicide is that it is contagious. Hotlines and ERs have been on high alert since Robin Williams committed suicide. If someone who has so much going on for him cannot go on living, why should I? Maybe opening the discussion is Robin’s last gift to us—not through laughter, but through tears.