Monique Colver

Monique Colver
Vancouver, Washington, USA
December 20
Colver Press
Author of "An Uncommon Friendship: a memoir of love, mental illness, and friendship," now available on Amazon and at Now working on an essay collection, "Early Lies," due out in spring 2014.


MAY 19, 2012 1:17PM

Kennedy Curse? Try Human Curse.

Rate: 4 Flag


It's not that I want to take anything away from the Kennedys -- I'm sure their suffering is great and suicide is such a difficult thing to wrap your head around, unless you're the one who's suicidal, of course, and then it makes all the sense in the world.

But what happened to Mary Richardson Kennedy was not because she had married into the Kennedy clan. Oh sure, it's plastered all over the news as if being a Kennedy is a death sentence, but let's get real. Suicide happens every day, to many people who aren't Kennedys, or know Kennedys, or have ever met a Kennedy.

Suicide is far too common to have it reduced to one family's curse. Don't I wish. If only we could restrict it to one family. Think of how many lives would be saved!

Suicide is everywhere. And whoever it happens to, it's a tragedy, whether they're married into a famous family or they're run-of-the-mill people like the rest of us. (I don't really know what run-of-the-mill means, so take that with a grain of salt.)

Suicide takes our loved ones prematurely and then we can never ask "why?" But even if we could ask, the answer might not make any sense to us. How could it? It's not our experience.

Those of us who have been close to the concept can understand, and those who have not, cannot.

When we call a suicide one family's curse we're negating the widespread tragedy that is suicide, we're reducing it to one situation, one cause and effect, one tragedy that is somehow different out of hundreds, thousands. But it's not any different from the suicides that happen every day. The result is the same: one person is gone, and the people left behind are grieving and wondering why.

And just for the record, don't give me any of that "Suicide is a selfish act, they're thinking only of themselves . . . " We don't know what they're thinking, but I can guarantee that some are thinking, "My family, my friends, the world, will be better off without me in it." Sometimes they think they're doing everyone a favor. I have thought that, which is why I'm so good at telling people not to assume they know what's going on in anyone's head. We don't know.

Your reality is not my reality.

Instead of calling one suicide one family's curse, as if there's nothing that can be done to stop it because, after all, it's a curse, and everyone knows curses aren't easily lifted, let's think about what we can do about reducing suicides. There's not enough help for the people who are suicidal, and not enough understanding of what they need. This is partly because we don't take it seriously -- we tell them to cheer up, to look at the bright side, that things will get better (as if we possess some sort of magical powers to see into the future), and when the pain is great that suicide is starting to look like an option, platitudes don't work.

We tell them to think of the others who will be hurt if they leave us, and then they wonder who's being selfish now?

There are people who use the threat of suicide as emotional blackmail, as a means to get attention, as a way to make themselves important as people scurry around to save them. I'm not talking about those people today. Today I'm talking about the people who are in pain, right now, and who are considering suicide as an option, and who are in so much pain they can't see another way out.

There's no curse, and there's no easy fix. I wish there were. It would be so much easier that way, wouldn't there?

We need to help those people find the light, the light that is sometimes hiding behind all the chaos and that makes living just one more day worthwhile. It might be just a little bit of light, but there's more where that came from. I'm not an expert in psychiatric issues, but I know how to find just a bit of light and hang onto it. Sometimes that's the best we can do for the short term, while we work on the long term.

I'm long term now. There's light most of the time, and it's a great place to be. 

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I'm glad that there's light most of the time. It is a damn fine place to be.
thanks for the honesty and the sanity, monique. you said too many 'right' things to point out one or several. the whole essay is excellent, and i'm *so* glad you found that way to get just enough light.