By Lana Turnbull
Last month the suicides of two high-profile celebrities, fashion designer Kate Spade and TV host and chef Anthony Bourdain rocked the news and sparked renewed conversations about suicide. At the same time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a new report laying out the alarming rise of suicide deaths from 1999 – 2016.
What we learned is that the phenomenon of suicide doesn’t discriminate. It crosses age, gender, race and ethnicity, and certainly is not exclusive to the wealthy and famous. While we often associate suicide with mental health problems, over half of suicides studied were among people who had not been diagnosed with mental illness. There is no one reason why someone makes this fatal choice, but there are lots of potential contributing factors – relationship problems, work and money stresses, legal problems, physical health conditions, and substance abuse and addiction are a few. But for whatever the reason, the result of suicide is devastating for those left behind.
Anybody who has lost a loved one to suicide knows the anguish of wondering why and what we could have done. These are questions they can never answer for us. Our only comfort is in believing their souls are finally free from the bounds of earth.
For this issue I chose a cover photo of a dragonfly because for me it epitomizes a lazy summer day. Wanting to find a justification for giving the image such a place of distinction, I did a little research on the subject and was floored to find a fable about dragonflies that validated my cover choice and I hope will bring comfort to those for whom suicide has struck all too close to home.
Once, in a little pond, in the muddy water under some lily pads, there lived a community of little water beetles. They lived a simple and comfortable life with few disturbances or interruptions.
Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of their fellow beetles would climb the stem of a lily pad never to be seen again. All the beetles knew when this happened, their friend was gone forever.
One day a little water beetle felt an irresistible urge to climb up the stem. As he climbed he promised the others that he would come back and tell them what he had found at the top.
When he reached the surface, the little beetle climbed on to the lily pad. He was tired, and the sun felt so warm that he decided to take a nap. As he slept, his body began to change and when he woke up, he had been transformed into a beautiful dragonfly with broad wings and a slender body designed for flying.
So, fly he did! And, as he soared he saw the wonder of a whole new world and a life more beautiful than he had ever known existed.
Then he remembered his beetle friends and his promise. He wanted to go back to tell them, and explain that he was now more alive than ever before, and that his life had been fulfilled rather than ended.
But alas, his new body wasn’t made to go down into the water. He couldn’t go back to tell his friends the good news. Finally he realized that a time would come, when they, too, would learn what he now knew. So, he raised his glistening wings and flew away into his joyous new life!