Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Writing the Words Left Behind After a Suicide

Some horrible facts about suicide from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - numbers are from 2007: 

More than 34,000 suicides occurred in the US. That is 94 per day or 1 every 15 minutes. Males take their own lives nearly four times as much as females - representing 78.8% of all suicides in the US. Firearms tend to be suicide weapon of choice among males; females prefer poisoning. Among young adults (15 to 24), there are roughly 100-200 attempts for every completed suicide.
Andrew Hinderaker's Suicide Incorporated is currently playing at Roundabout Underground. This fascinating play takes us to a company, which services those (primarily men) who are about the take their lives. This company does not try to prevent suicidal behavior. For a fee, it helps write what cannot be said out loud; it writes or refines the customer’s suicide note. By the way, this service can be expedited for an additional rush service fee.

Several days after seeing Suicide Incorporated, the play has me wondering. First, how responsible are we for being in tune with the mental and emotional state of those around us? If my brother or friend or coworker is hurting - to a breaking point - and I fail to be there for that person, am I in some way responsible for that breaking point? Second, the play suggests that a driver for male suicide is the difficulty they have communicating their feelings. In the play, we feel Norm’s (played by James McMenamin) discomfort when he shares the pain from his failed marriage and manhood. Why do men (especially) find it so hard to communicate? Why?

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for both men and women in the US. Therefore, Suicide Incorporated rightfully does not end on an optimistic note. However, it left this audience member thinking and it offered some glimmer of hope as the men begin to open up and share their feelings.

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