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December 19, 2013 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-12-19

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metro >> on the cover


After a suicide, the devastation
still lingers for loved ones.

Ronelle Grier I Contributing Writer


There they discovered Steven
had shot himself. He was 37.

was their choice when they could have made
another choice. It should not be an option:'
Grim Statistics
Robin L., a local woman who asked that
These tragic stories reflect only
her real name not be used, was sitting in her
a few of the more than 38,000
living room when her son came downstairs
suicides occurring across the
and announced he had swallowed a large
country each year, surpassing
quantity of prescription pills.
the number of deaths by motor
"He said, 'I just tried to kill myself said
vehicle accidents. The number
Robin, who managed to stay calm as she
of suicides has risen more than
took him to the nearest emergency room. He 31 percent in the last decade,
then spent a week in the psychiatric unit of
according to statistics from the
Kingswood Hospital, where he was treated
Centers for Disease Control and
Charlene Genser Lezell's daughter,
Laura Last Solomon at her wedding with her
for depression with therapy and medication.
Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.
Alyssa Faith, with her son, Sean
late mother, Marcia Last
"When he came home, he said, 'Thank
Suicide is now the fourth most
God, I could tell you about it:" Robin said.
common cause of death for
"Now ifs an open dialogue. He's on great
adults ages 35-64, where the
"People say suicide is selfish act — I don't
child loses his job or relationship during an
medication, and it's all good:'
largest increase was found.
believe that's true Solomon said. "People
episode of depression, the risk of suicide
Former Detroiter Charlene Genser Lezell
The highest suicide rate occurs among the
are in such pain, to them ifs a relief. When
increases:' writes Young, who also teaches
is still stunned and grief-stricken over the
elderly, according to the National Institutes
they're in such pain that death seems better
resident physicians at the Wayne State
loss of her daughter, Alyssa Faith (Lezell
of Mental Health, and suicide is four times
than life, they're not thinking about survi-
University School of Medicine.
asked that Alyssa's last name not be used),
more prevalent among males than females.
vors; they just want to end their pain."
He urges parents whose adult children are
who shot herself in her Florida home two
While the winter holiday season can be
living in their home to make every effort to
Warning Signs
years ago, leaving a husband and four chil-
challenging in terms of family issues and
restrict access to prescription and over-the-
dren ages 11-16.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a depres- A person contemplating suicide may exhibit
counter drugs, and to avoid keeping firearms
What shocked Lezell further was the
sive condition caused by decreased daylight
behavioral changes similar to those that
in the house.
discovery that her daughter, who was 40,
and sun, more suicides actually occur during
accompany depression — increased isola-
Other risk factors include a family his-
the spring months of March, April and May.
had been conducting Internet research for
tion, falling grades or altered eating and
tory of suicide or abuse; previous suicide
several months on how to kill herself using
"Sometimes people can keep it together
sleep patterns — but not always.
attempts; history of mental disorders, par-
knives and various types of firearms. Prior to during the holidays:' said Susie Kamen, a
"What's so hard is that it doesn't always
ticularly clinical depression; alcohol and
shooting herself to death, Alyssa had tried to
Farmington Hills-based psychotherapist.
look the way you think it would:' said
substance abuse; feelings of hopelessness and
end her life by stabbing herself in the chest
"Then when the season changes and the
Kamen, adding that sometimes life crises
isolation; physical illness; loss of a relation-
with a knife, using a diagram of the heart she people around them are enjoying the spring
such as a divorce, break-up or the death of a
ship, job or financial security; or unwilling-
had found online. When that attempt was
weather and sunshine, their own depression
loved one can trigger irrational thinking that ness to seek help because of the stigma.
unsuccessful, she decided to use a
becomes more apparent:"
can lead to suicidal thoughts or behavior.
"People should be able to say, 'I am suf-
gun, again following instructions
Depression, bipolar disorder
"Ifs that moment when you lose all per-
fering and I need help:" said Solomon.
published on the Internet.
and other forms of mental illness
spective and all hope Kamen said.
"My mother was so busy being strong for
Jerry and Gail Beale of West
are frequently present in those
Those who have attempted suicide in the
everyone else, being the problem solver, she
Bloomfield were aware their son
who contemplate or commit sui-
past are more likely to try it again. Having a
couldn't ask for help:"
Steven had been struggling with
cide. According to the National
specific plan and the means to carry it out
Solomon and others believe a stigma still
certain issues, but his suicide
Association for Mental Illness, one are also serious warning signs. In his book
exists in the Jewish community, where fami-
came without warning, following
of every 17 Americans lives with
When Your Adult Child Breaks Your Heart,
lies refrain from revealing suicide, mental
a break-up with his girlfriend.
serious mental illness, and milder
psychiatrist Dr. Joel Young, founder and
illness, domestic abuse and addiction.
"I had just talked to him two
forms of depression are even more medical director of the Rochester Center
"The only way it's going to be another
Steven B eale
hours before," Gail said.
common. Prescription drugs can
for Behavioral Medicine in Rochester Hills,
thing we talk about is if we start talking
When Steven's girlfriend called the Beales
be helpful, but finding the right combination states that most suicidal behavior occurs
about it:' she said. "People used to whisper
to say he had taken the break-up hard and
and dosage is challenging, and many adults
during periods of depression.
about cancer; today we participate in walks
she was worried about him, Jerry immedi-
stop taking their medication or take it incon-
"Under the best circumstances, it is
and wear pink ribbons. Why are we still
ately met her at his son's Waterford home.
hard to live with a mood disorder: If your
whispering about suicide?"

Haunting on page 10


December 19 • 2013

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