"Hope is a necessity for normal life and the major weapon against the suicide impulse."
~ Karl A. Menninger

September is the beginning of autumn, and it's also a month we equate with going back to school. It is also National Suicide Prevention Month. Suicide is not a subject I particularly enjoy writing about, but it's something that deserves special attention. I'm sad to report that during my more than six decades on this planet, I've lost seven loved ones to suicide. I write about these losses in my poem "The Lost List."

These individuals all took their lives for different reasons, but they all left me with different emotional scars that I share in my poem. For the most part, prior to their deaths, they were dealing with mental health challenges such as depression. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. We're lucky to be living in a time when there are many modalities to help deal with depression, such as therapy, medication, exercise, and holistic healing.

Below, I review the book Let's Talk about Death, which helps us talk more openly about death and how we want to die. Author Michael Hebb says that next to the death of a child, suicide is the most difficult subject to talk about.

Recently, I've pondered the effect of the pandemic on the incidence of suicide. Early in the pandemic, I read that due to personal and financial reasons, suicide numbers have increased, especially among adolescents. However, according to the CDC, since 2016 the overall rate of suicide has dropped incrementally. Healthline suggests that the reason for the drop during the pandemic is that historically during times of crisis, people tend to rally around one another, become more open about their feelings, and seek out medical and psychological assistance. This could also be the result of an increase in suicide-prevention campaigns.

Perhaps this is the silver lining of the pandemic: We've not only learned how to be alone and work from home, but we're more inclined to reach out for the emotional help we need. Hopefully, moving forward, we can hold on to these new ways of navigating life's challenges.

Be well. Be safe.
Carpe diem.

  • Write about someone you know or heard of who took their life.
  • Write about a time when you were depressed.
  • Write about what gave you strength during the pandemic.
  • Write about your favorite September memory.
"Writing an Inspirational Memoir"
Leaders Transforming Global Consciousness: Hosted by Christian de la Huerta
Virtual Event
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
To register: Click here.
"Writing a Riveting Memoir: A Roadmap for Crafting a Compelling Story"
University Club of Santa Barbara
Members only (for now)
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
"Reflecting on Mental Health of Immigrant Children Like Myself" (article). The Good Men Project. August 1, 2021.

"Bracelet Cuddles" (poem). Amethyst Review. August 9, 2021.

"The Lost List" (poem). Salt. No. 2. Summer 2021.

"Create a Revolution" (poem). Quail Bell Magazine. August 16, 2021.

"How I Found Empowerment in Going Back to School" (article). Sixty and Me. August 17, 2021.

"7 Ways to Get More Focused." Psychology Today. August 19, 2021.

Last week I walked into our neighborhood independent bookstore and asked the salesperson for a novel written by a contemporary Japanese writer. I've always been a fan of Japanese writing due to its simplicity and honesty. Without hesitation, she pulled out this book and handed it to me. I read this little gem in one sitting. It was so very compelling.

Written in the first person and based on a true story, Murata gives us a rare glimpse into the world of Keiko, a 36-year old woman whose entire life revolves around her position as a convenience-store clerk, and all the people she encounters during the course of a day. This is a fascinating glimpse into a world rarely written about.
Let's Talk about Death (Over Dinner) by Michael Hebb (self-help)

Ordinarily, this is not the type of book I would pick up to read. However, I believe it's an important work to help inspire necessary conversations with ourselves and our loved ones. Hebb believes that we need to face our mortality, not only as individuals, but also as a village.

Death is a subject that is most often avoided, and as Hebb says, "If you don't talk about what you want at the end, then you can be sure that you won't get what you want. Picture what you want your final days to be like: Who is around you? Are you in a hospital? Will there be a funeral, and if so, what music is playing and who is speaking? What happens to your body and how do you want to be remembered?"
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