This week, I feel constrained to continue on the subject of suicide, because I strongly feel we should do all we can to call this problem out, and annihilate it.
Whenever it happens, suicide is one puzzling occurrence, and it would be good to ensure that we do not unnecessarily lose anyone again this way. It doesn’t matter who the victim is, the news always devastates.
John and his wife Helen, are close family friends. A few years ago, John was diagnosed with arthritis, and Helen confessed to me she had noted a marked difference in his behavior, especially withdrawal, but she could not pinpoint the exact cause of the problem.
While working in Home Health, I once had a client whose daughter was overly concerned with her mom’s medication. I had at first thought the daughter to be just fussy for nothing. The mom had stage four cancer and was living her last days, but the daughter insisted that her mom ought to live the best she could till her last day. She went through any new medications keenly, reading even the small print to know the side effects. She refused to give a certain medication to her mom, insisting it would increase her anxiety, which would not be good for her. She then contacted the doctor and requested for an alternative medication. This incident opened my eyes to something I had never thought of as important or even possible.
After Helen told me the changes in her husband, I asked her if he was taking any medication that could be affecting him, but she was not aware of anything like that. I requested her to check the side effects of the medications John was taking. Surprisingly, one of the pain relievers he was taking had these side-effects, among many others: loneliness, anxiety, depression, irritability, or other mood or mental changes, thoughts of suicide. Upon contacting the doctor with this information, he promptly changed the medication. Since John had been seeing this doctor for a while, it was obvious he knew that John’s family was predisposed to depression, and therefore, a great possibility of suicide. It was hard to imagine why anything like that could happen.
It is good to trust doctors, but in this evil age, it is good to be extra careful and proactive, plus, it only takes a few minutes to google the side effects of the medications we or our loved ones are taking. Sometimes for those of us not in the medical profession, it is hard to associate suicide with medications side effects.
After we lost our very lively and lovely nephew to suicide, it was a hard thing trying to silence the voices in my head, that I was to blame for his death, because I had delayed to pay his college tuition by two weeks. I desire the vigor I had then, to try and reach anyone who needs help. My hope is that we can make it personal and try to reach out to someone. Sometimes it doesn’t take much; it may be just a smile, a hello, getting the lunch bill for someone, checking on your neighbor, just a warm feeling towards someone, or just a good deed. You just never know who your smile or good deed might remind that there is still some good in the world, and change their mind from committing suicide.
Finally, remember kindness works, please pass it on.
It is still a beautiful world, let’s strive to be happy.
Kenyan Parents In USA Senior columnist