I decided right then I’d better find ways to speak to comments like that. It wasn’t long though, and two young people from that church in Racine, Wisconsin, did take their lives. One was 15, the other 16.
I’d had both of those young men in my confirmation classes. I knew their parents, and I’d been to their family events. One of the parents taught Sunday School. Suicide was real and it was final.
As I went into campus ministry at Northern Michigan University and The University of Cincinnati, there were more experiences like the ones from Racine. But when Jon, one of my cousins, took his life at 45, suicide touched someone in my family. Then its very close, its personal, its painful. In spite of all I’d learned, I was still left wondering if there was anything I or anyone else could have done.
I’ve studied, gone to seminars, been to and even conducted funerals for those who fell by their own hand. I can say there is no easy answer and certainly no cliche’ that will ever address survivor’s grief. Even as recent as last year, an acquaintance and friend of mine from Wausau, Wisconsin, took his own life.