For me, every time I see a news alert about Parkland, Florida or Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, I have a 5-second panic attack. With two suicides over the past eight days by survivors of the February 14, 2018 massacre – where my 16-year old son was taking a math test in that same 1200 building where the shooter destroyed lives – it shatters my heart yet again.
I can only imagine the continuous pain of the families of all who are no longer here. I empathize with the many who have survivor’s guilt. I am vigilant to speak to my own son daily and listen keenly when he expresses himself. Now a senior at MSD, I hear what he says…and what he doesn’t. I also chat with my older son who, although he was a college freshman at the time and not on the high school campus that fateful day, was equally traumatized for an extended period of time. Sometimes I think I can fluently share with others my feelings and memories of that horrific day, but end up bawling instead. My husband rarely broaches the subject at all.
This is my personal experience. However, all across America, every single day, there are people suffering in silence and grappling with thoughts of suicide. Black, white, wealthy, disadvantaged, young, old, religious or agnostic – these feelings can affect anyone. And they do.
As the number of suicides continues to rise, not just on the mainland, but also in the Caribbean, our communities and governments need to unite in love, support, prayer and action. In the islands, people love to sweep things under the proverbial rug, but this is something we need to talk about. Take for example, Guyana: the only English-speaking South American country with a quasi-Caribbean culture. It has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. That’s way too close for comfort!
Now is the time to get candid about suicide. We need to speak hope into the lives of those who feel hopeless. You don’t have to be a doctor or a counselor. You just need to have a profound ability to listen objectively and a desire to help the hurting. In my opinion, that’s a great place to start. Not every case will be the same, but hopefully we can begin moving towards reducing the escalation of suicides affecting our communities.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the NSPL number below or chat with someone online.