The first person who I knew who committed suicide was named Brandon. I didn’t know him well, but I did know that he was very attractive, and was friends with the popular kids, and that he had been dating a pretty young ballerina in my grade. I had asked a friend of mine why I hadn’t seen Brandon and she said that he committed suicide. My first question was, Why?
Years later, when I was 32 years-old, I would return to that question after the suicide of my brother, Bill. The strange thing that happens after someone you love commits suicide is that you meet a lot of other people who had loved ones who committed suicide. Like the speech therapist for my son whose brother had committed suicide, or my old boss whose brother-in-law committed suicide…and then there were the people I met at the support groups who had loved ones who committed suicide. Some of them had done it out of the blue and without any warning. Others, like my brother, had suffered for years with a serious mental illness.
It isn’t unexpected that I would meet so many who had suffered the same type of loss. Suicide is, in fact, the sixth leading cause of death.
I saw on the news that Ms. White’s mother was suing Mr. Carrey with the implication that he had been the cause of Ms. White’s suicide. The story said that he had given her STDs and maybe prescription pills.
Hemingway said something to the effect that the world breaks us all, but that some of us get stronger at the breaks. Many people get STDs every year, or have awful break-ups and do not go on to kill themselves. So what is it that causes one person but not another to end their life?
I am writing this because I happen to know a little something about this question. After the death of my brother, I spent a lot of time struggling with it. Camus wrote that “There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide.” And he was right. This might very well be the only life that we get. Maybe there is nothing after this. Maybe this really is it. And even if there is reincarnation, it is probable that this is the only time that we get to live this life. Having been given such a miracle, why in the world would someone end it prematurely?
What I found in my struggle and in a long time in a dark place is that there is no logic to suicide. There were times that I wondered if I could have talked my brother out of his suicide. Was there anything that I could have said? Was there anything that I could have done? He had attempted suicide twice before he actually completed it. I hesitate to use “successful” in relation to a suicide attempt because nothing about it is successful.
Yes, we should do anything that can be done to prevent people from committing suicide. But once someone has really decided that he or she wants to commit suicide, it is unlikely that you would be able to talk them out of it. I realized that I would have had as good of a chance of talking my brother out of suicide (had I had the opportunity) as I would have had talking a healthy person into suicide.
There were times that I asked myself if maybe I had done something differently if it would have prevented my brother’s suicide. I never allowed my brother to meet my children. They were just babies and he had rambled on once during one of his delusions about tossing my son into a lake. I couldn’t take the chance of allowing them to be around him when he was not medicated.
Reason. We humans love reason. But the thing about suicide is that there is no reason to it. I spent a lot of time searching for that reason and that is what I found, that there is no reason. There is no logic to that decision. The only reason that exists is that the majority of people who kill themselves are mentally ill. The exception to this is terminally ill people who are speeding up the process so as to not suffer. It wasn’t any particular occurrence that made my brother commit suicide. It was his illness that killed him.
After someone dies from suicide, we want to find a reason. Our minds want to find blame. I remember seeing that pretty ballerina after Brandon’s death, and she had the same look on her face that I am sure that I had years later, and that Mr. Carrey had in the photos taken of him shortly after his girlfriend’s death. It is that look of shock and loss. But Mr. Carrey is no more to blame for Cathriona White’s suicide than the pretty ballerina was for Brandon’s death. Even if a terrible break-up had happened. Even if Mr. Carrey gave her ten STDs. There is never a good reason to kill oneself. Terrible things happen every day to people and they cope and move on.
I am not a particular fan of Jim Carrey, but now he is part of a group that I have been a part of for nine long years, a group of people who have lost a loved one to suicide. So in case you were considering placing blame on him, please take it from someone who has walked on that road and refrain. It isn’t his fault and any assertion that it is will only hamper his healing. And if you still have doubts about laying blame, think of this–if Mr. Carrey committed suicide after being blamed for his girlfriend’s death, would you take responsibility for making accusations that caused so much distress that it led to a person taking their own life?
Cathriona White did not commit suicide because of anything that Jim Carrey did. Cathriona White committed suicide for the same reason that the majority of people who commit suicide do it–because she had a mental illness and sometimes mental illness is terminal. It would be easier if there were a reason behind it. It would be easier if there were someone to blame or an occurrence to pin it on. But I will say it again: the only reason that most people commit suicide is that they have a mental illness.
If you have a mental illness, please, seek treatment.
Mary Jarrett Wilson is a caseworker and writer. She lives in Vermont with her husband, son, daughter, foster son, and Golden Retriever. She is the author of Edge Play X. https://www.amazon.com/Edge-Play-M-Jarrett-Wilson-ebook/dp/B004G8QZ92