Thursday, June 2, 2011

Self Built Lonely Walls

The first I heard of suicide was a story about my great uncle told by my parents when I was a child. He was a Navy Seabee, loved by many, and then gone. He took his life. I wondered why? Another story told to me, a threat of suicide during my college days…my friend talking her roommate down from exiting via the window of a high-rise dorm building, lots of screaming, tears, then hugs, and then off to the college pub to party…it will be ok? Then as a high school substitute teacher hearing rumors among students about life-threatening behaviors, they were just high. Everything was fine? Attitudes and behavior merging to silence often so lonely, and so quiet, suicide not to be spoken of, yet almost deafening noise created by loss, pain, and anguish.
Brian Dyak
President and CEO
Entertainment Industries Council, Inc.

National Action Alliance Executive Committee Member

Finally out of college ready to tackle the world, I was young, married, and energetic. Opportunity abounded, she a trained crisis intervention teen counselor and me an activist organizing and creating youth crisis services for runaway youth. I heard stories of dysfunctional families, physically abusive family circumstances, alcohol abuse and drug addiction, rape, incest, violence, and suicide. My path became clearer to help make the community aware that compassion was necessary and services such as hot lines and crises centers were essential. The challenge: to somehow stop the cycle of discontent and to work to make things better by finding like-minded people who cared and promote services that can assist.

Then, what seemed to me out of nowhere, I came home to find that my wife compromised her life and her service to others by ending her life. The same friend who talked her roommate out of jumping. I took solace in a note that spoke of love and life and her trials to be a part of this world. She spoke of her own “self built lonely walls” and vindicated those who loved her clearing the blame, guilt, suspicion, and doubt. She put forth a challenge to discover how strong one must be to go on. A challenge she chose not to accept for herself. I went forward with great confusion. What could I have done?

Unfortunately it did not stop. My friend and college roommate, a talented musician, decided he “had enough” following in the footsteps of one of his good friends who permanently left his children and family to fend for themselves. I wrote his parents to lend what support I could, explaining all the good that their son had bestowed on so many and his high standard of friendship. Other suicides surfaced in my life among close family, friends and acquaintances, the most recent a friend who just lost his son a few months ago. How can anyone really understand that split-second of decision to actually leave life behind?

Suicide, creating wounds and then scars for life, challenges the power of optimism that the world can be a better place. Yet, like a huge human experiment of life, I have been fortunate finding compassion and support from loved ones early on, learning the importance of sending out love, unconditional love, and finding like-minded people. The havoc suicide does to relationships may be countered by love and time. Working together towards understanding and openness is essential…hiding only contributes to the loneliness and the confusion, a consideration I made when I said yes to writing this blog. I also deeply considered the contributions that the media could make to suicide prevention.

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention is an amalgamation for me of what has been, what is, and what can be. It is an honor to participate as a member of its Executive Committee. The Action Alliance is a gift that permits many people with varied life experiences and vast expertise to work together on behalf of others and unselfishly themselves. The notion that shaping public policy, service to others, raising awareness, and educating about real-life circumstances of suicide is a power that states,” I am not alone, we are not alone”. Feeling the support of others, communicating the caring for the purpose and mission, and, most importantly, showing love of life and optimism creates opportunity that together we can truly make a difference. I believe we can set a course that can break down “self built lonely walls” and let life be the gift it is intended to be. The Action Alliance is a vehicle for that belief to come true and I am grateful to be able to play a small part.