A Conversation on Suicide and the Left Behind: Twitterscript of Jennifer Michael Hecht

Friday, March 14, 2014 - 3:16pm
A Conversation on Suicide and the Left Behind: Twitterscript of Jennifer Michael Hecht

Author and poet Jennifer Michael Hecht on suicide, resilience, and community. She says, "We have secret web-like connections to each other. Sometimes when you can't see what's important about you other people can." Join the conversation here.

Post by:
Trent Gilliss (@TrentGilliss),  Executive Editor / Chief Content Officer for On Being
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Credit: Spencer Platt License: Getty Images.
“None of us can truly know what we mean to other people and none of us can now what our future self will experience. History and philosophy ask us to remember these mysteries, to look around at friends, family, humanity, at the surprises life brings — the endless possibilities that living offers — and to persevere. There is love and insight to live for, bright moments to cherish, and even the possibility of happiness, and the chance of helping someone else through his or her own troubles. Know that people, through history and today, understand how much courage it takes to stay.

Bear witness to the night side of being human and the bravery it entails, and wait for the sun. If we meditate on the record of human wisdom we may find there reason enough to persist and find our way back to happiness. The first step is to consider the arguments and evidence and choose to stay. After that, anything may happen. First, choose to stay.”

~Jennifer Michael Hecht, Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It

We are receiving an outpouring of stories from people sharing their stories of grief and resilience. We're hoping this Twitterscript of Krista's conversation with Ms. Hecht prompts you to join our ongoing conversation about suicide. Share your experiences here and let's build a better dialogue about this issue in our society.

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Trent Gilliss is the driving editorial and creative force behind On Being. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on "The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi" and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent's reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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I had a cousin commit suicide when I was a young girl, he was 19 or so. I have also attempted suicide on many occasions. I am now 50 with a 13 year old son who is a peer mediator at school and has been given the gift of a great program at his school called The Gatekeeper program which encourages students to be mindful and watchful and to act if a person they know is suicidal. I loved this talk today, how often we forget that it is NOT just us on this planet as individuals trying heroically to conquer our darkness but our connections, our loved ones, and how we turn our mind to better times, even and especially in deep depressioon. Thank you both for a wonderful program.

I despise cultish idealism. It's reasonable to expect people to try and live and heal and get better up to a point. However, saccharin phrases about "light" and "hope" are all about others' inability to deal with death and illness and is very often, in my experience, as oppressive to the afflicted as the disease. Expecting people to suffer for the sake of others is incredibly selfish. It also speaks to the "savior" complex of Western Society and indicates a sense of privilege that most of the world doesn't share. Is the schizophrenic homeless man, who has no family, in any of your "secret webs?" I doubt it. And if he is, is it fair to expect him to suffer indefinitely so you can feel better about yourself for putting change in his cup?


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