I’ve been volunteering at the Facebook Putting a Face on Suicide page for nine weeks now. Each Monday I sign in at twelve noon and stay focused on the page until eight in the evening. My job essentially is to either Like or respond with a message to every comment that is posted on the page. Though I’m able to move back and forth to my writing work or look at my emails or write a blog post, as I’m doing now, I need to check back every couple of minutes so I can respond quickly. It’s not good to let people know there is no one minding the store, so to speak.
I have gotten a lot of value from doing this job. I look forward to it every week because I know the wonderful service it provides – solace to those who have lost loved ones to suicide. It is a place where our memories never die. It is a place where we can see their faces and read their stories whenever we want.
Paul's Putting a Face on Suicide poster
This job is also a huge confront for me. Even though my Paul died over twelve years ago, my grieving for him is not over – and I know it never will be. So I must compartmentalize from my grieving self – as I do in all the other things that go on in my life – and be an objective responder here.
And that is so hard because every week there is at least one photo and one story that brings me to tears. Today it is the photo of a 28-year old man who died fourteen years ago. A young woman commented that he was her first love.
Last week it was the photo of a boy nine years old. Why oh why does a nine year old want to die? But he was not alone. The week before it was a photo of a girl only ten years old who hung herself as a result of bullying at school.
I don’t know what the statistics are for suicides caused by bullying, but I’ll bet the numbers move up every year. A Facebook page Bullying is for Losers may have the numbers.
Suicide happens to people of all ages. Today I see photos of: Terry age 52, Jim age 47, Kelsey age 15, Ashley age 24, Wade age 19, Elizabeth age 33. And they all left behind someone like me who has to go through life compartmentalizing his/her grief in order to survive and move on.
And, please remember that Putting a Face on Suicide is not for people in emotional distress. Please call 1-800 784-2433 [SUICIDE] if you or anyone you know needs help.