I have always been an unabashed fan of the late poet Sylvia Plath.
I love her poetry, her writing. I can relate to the way her mind worked. They way her thoughts weave into the darkness, reaching out for hope even if she did not ultimately find it. I feel her poems in a way many cannot. It speaks to an all-too-familiar pain.
But no matter how dark and horrible life can be, and it definitely can be, there is nothing after this life. It is simply nothing. I do not believe in God or afterlife. Once our bodies expire—we are gone. Everything bad and everything good and everything in between ceases to exist. For me, there is far too much in this world to be fascinated with to choose suicide.
Even if the situation you are currently in is horrific and I know it can be unimaginable, suicide is NOT the answer. There are millions of miles of earth, billions of opportunities to explore, trillions of new situations to experience and a plethora of new people to meet. There is just so much more to this life than where you are at any given moment.
This is what keeps me moving forward through the difficult times. And I will not pretend to be anything less than moody. I am a profoundly deep person. I feel things more intensely than most people. I react to them. I am sensitive. I am introspective. I am the quintessential poet. I admit I am melodramatic in my thoughts, in my feelings. But when things gets so dark for me, I try to remind myself to hold onto the vast intrigue, the unread books, the unvisited destinations, the unwritten poetry, the unmet people.
Last week I was re-reading some of Sylvia Plath’s works, admiring her way with words, her uncanny ability to put into words my pain even before I was born. I was thinking how it is such a shame she chose suicide. It is heartbreaking really. I wish I could have known her. I wish we could have had conversations over tea. I wish I could have absorbed some of the darkness surrounding her. She felt there was no escape from her life except death. Unfortunately, she set an example for her children—an example she can never undo.
16,836 days later her son, Nicholas Hughes, followed her example choosing to hang himself in his Alaskan home. He was an intelligent man of science. A marine biologist whose love for fish, fishing and the science of fisheries he inherited from his father. It was this love for nature that inspired him to move to Alaska many years ago. According to his sister he battled depression throughout his life even while passionately pursuing his research. Suicide may or may not be inherited, they are finding some genetic links but most experts believe it is not so much inherited as it is taught through example. Depression is often inherited and whether you are a fan of Plath or not, the connection between her decision to kill herself and his ultimate choice to do so—is connected.
Both Nicholas’ mother, Sylvia Plath, and his stepmother, Assia Wevill, committed suicide during his childhood. This cannot go unmentioned. Depression is difficult to survive. Again, suicide is not inherited but it can be taught as coping tool. Children whose parents have attempted suicide, not just succeeded, are six times as likely to try to take their own lives. This is significant. This could not have been what Sylvia Plath wanted for her little Nicholas.
It is too late for them both now, no matter what did or did not contribute to their decisions. Suicide is the ultimate choice for too many. But it is not the only way out of the darkness. Each of us can help prevent suicide. We have the responsibility to do so both for ourselves and others. Suicide affects many people—not just the person considering it—but it is not your only option. If you are suffering from depression and having suicidal thoughts there are other ways out. Get help now before it is too late.
Recognize the signs and symptoms. Know where to get help for yourself or others. If you feel suicidal or you know someone who does you or they can call 1-877-273-TALK (8255).
Here are some other suicide prevention / help links below:
Suicide Awareness Voice of Education (SAVE)
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
Suicide hotlines in your area (and national hotlines)