My big brother was 19 when he commited suicide. I was six years old. He was in prison for assault. I learned later that he was sentenced to five years in prison. If he'd lived he probably would have been out of prison in two or three years. My cousin told me he wrote her saying that he'd been raped while in prison. I guess he couldn't bear existing in such a violent place. My brother was a tough guy, yet prison got the best of him.
I remember my brother as a good student athelete. He was on the football team. He graduated with good grades. I remember being scared of him, though. I was his annoying kid sister. He didn't have much patience for me. He would pull pranks on me sometimes or tell me things that weren't true. I remember him argueing with my mother alot. I learned later that he would smoke pot with my cousin alot. He smoked alot of pot. I don't know the details of his arrest and conviction. My mother used to keep clippings from the newspaper but I don't know what happened to them.
My brother was often very depressed and angry. I think he was just discovering the prospects he had as a black man in the seventies. He would make nooses out of my jump rope. He was trying very hard to make sense out of his life. I think he would have turned out fine if he hadn't gotten involved with the wrong kind of people. He was thinking about death already so it didn't surpise me when he killed himself. My sister felt that he was going to hell. I don't believe in hell anymore so his death has taken on a different meaning for me. I think he just didn't want to be gang raped for five years. I also think he probably knew that prison would change him into someone he didn't want to be.
Death scares me. Coming from a religious background suicide was never an option. I feared hell more than death. During my depressions I have often been suicidal. My first attempt had me burning down my apartment. That got me in jail for two weeks. I was convicted of arson and given two years probation. That experience nixed alot of my desires to kill myself by harming other people's property. I made a contract with myself that I would never harm myself. That and the fear of hell has kept me alive. I have often felt like dying but I realized that killing myself only hurts those who love me and want to help me. I think my brother felt alone and frightened of his future in prison. I don't think he was given any hope for surviving. That and being depressed already made a perfect storm of suicidal emotion.
I don't talk about my brother because it's just too depressing. When I started to feel suicidal I thought of him alot. His death devestated my mother and she still hasn't quite gotten over it. I think his death shocked her. I don't think she realized just how down he was feeling. When someone commits suicide it's always a shock to those closest to that person. Again the way this country stigmatizes suicide has alot to do with that. People don't take suicidal people seriously. They don't think they will go through with it. They think the person is just trying to get attention. They think the person is going through a faze and will get over it. They think that the suicidal person needs to snap out of it and stop being so selfish. These are dangerous things to think. Always take a suicidal person seriously and get them the help that they need.
When I was suicidal I would tell people and they would try to help me or get me the help I needed. That was important. When my husband was unemployed I was suicidal alot but I kept it to myself because I knew we couldn't afford me going to the hospital. We didn't have health insurance so I felt like I had to soldier on. I stayed indoors and rarely talked. Looking back I could have contacted someone and maybe I could have gotten on medication. During these tough economic times I'm afraid there is going to be alot of people who will try to battle suicidal thoughts on their own and end up killing themselves instead of getting the help they need.
Since I don't believe in hell anymore the thing that would keep me alive would be my husband and my family and friends. Death still scares me. It's an end and I don't know if there is life after death anymore. It makes me want to live life to the full and really make the most of each day.
In this case fear was helpful in keeping me alive. Fear of hell,fear of death,fear of the unknown really kept me from harming myself seriously.
Suicide should not be an option no matter how bad life gets. We are tougher than we give ourselves credit for. Overcoming adversity is something human beings are good at. I think my brother could have overcome his circumstance but he wasn't given any options. I hope he found peace.