Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Closure

I debated writing about this at all but this blog is my way of working things through, and this needs to be worked through.

February 2nd was not just Imbolc for me, (I didn't celebrate because I don't have a relationship with Brigid and Spring does not come in the middle of winter for me) it was my birthday.

It was also the day in which someone I briefly knew took their own life, publicly, on my campus.

There were no warning signs, there was no hesitation. He just walked to campus and did it.

I've been somewhat fortunate in that I haven't had to deal with suicide in my life on a close or frequent basis. This is really the first time I knew someone (however briefly)that unfortunately was driven to the point of taking their own life.

The problem I have is with how my college is handling (read: not handling) the situation properly.

When the suicide occurred, my college sent out an 'alert' to the effect that a male (non-student) had just shot himself on campus, publicly, around the center of campus. No other details were provided.

I would have liked a letter to be sent out, campus-wide, explaining that the campus had lost a former student and our thoughts and prayers are with the family. I would have liked there to be a public acknowledgement of the suicide occuring. I would have liked a letter to be sent out detailing the warning signs of suicide, what to look for, and a list of counseling services or phone numbers for those who may be considering suicide or need help dealing with this person's suicide.

None of the above was provided, and worse, the campus took it a step further.

A small impromptu shrine was set up for the person at the spot where he took his life. Friends and friends of the family laid flowers, candles, and notes at the spot. 2-3 days later the campus removed all trace of his mini shrine, and swept the entire thing under the rug.

It's been like a campus wide cover up. Not a single peep out of them on twitter, facebook, or their website. Not a single email of compassion sent out. The only reason I know anything about the suicide is the STUDENT-RUN newspaper reporting on it. Thankfully there will be a suicide awareness vigil next week (ALSO STUDENT-RUN) and a vigil for the kid today, which I will be attending (AGAIN STUDENT RUN) but the campus's utter silence on the issue is extremely offensive to me.

Pretending a death didn't occur is probably the worst thing you can do for the soul and for the family. People need closure. Dead souls need closure. They receive that through fully acknowledging a death occurred. People need a safe place to put their flowers and their thoughts, at least for a few weeks. Sweeping away a shrine as if it never happened within 3 days is so offensive to the soul and to me I can't adequately express my feelings.

As someone who works with death all the time, I feel it a travesty that my college is pretending this didn't happen. How very offensive. How very victim-shaming. I've heard students joking about the suicide, all over campus. I can't express here how very distressed I am by the situation. The suicide itself and the lack of proper handling by the campus, both.

It feels surreal to know I had talked to that person, he was over my house just last year, he attended my art school, and now he's gone. I would have liked the opportunity to pay my respects, but now that's been dashed by my campus. Instead I'll go to the candlelight vigil tonight and pay my respects there.

Souls and people need a grievance period, and I don't feel the campus is allowing students to grieve. Only one of my teachers even mentioned the suicide at all, and many of my friends don't even know it happened. I am astounded that this is acceptable practice for a soul.

I contacted the soul as best I could and it really seems he was lonely up til the end. I feel like he just wanted somebody to know. And the campus is most definitely trying to cover its own ass.

This kid was the gentlest kid you could ever hope to meet. He was geeky in the best way possible, and a really animated soul. Even if my campus doesn't, I'll remember him.

R.I.P.

4 comments:

  1. Oh Kristin this is such a personal and thoughtful post . I have lost several friends & family members to suicide . and although the people were given funerels and a short grieving time the why was never delt with . never. always unspoken , not talked of . Suicide is quite common also in Canada on the reserves .
    The first time I lost a friend I was 15yo he was 13yo . he'd been abused all his short life .no one spoke of the abuse .
    although not a suicide my ex died almost 3 yrs ago on my dh of 28 yrs and my wedding anniverssary . It is hard now on that date as his friends always want to get together and remember his life . yet it is my wedding day . am I to be somber or celebrate ? on a wierd sort of twisted note it is also April Fools day .
    death is not strange nor scarey to me either I work with souls all the time and am in a way more comfortable with the dead . I think how can the dead move on if we pretend the why did not happen , weather it was depression , addiction , abuse . acknowledging the whole of the situation helps both the living & the dead go on .
    It is such a positive sign that the young people are really not fearful that you and other students will take the steps to acknowledge what happened . Did they list sources of help for other students in the paper ? if not maybe it is a good suggestion to them to perhaps do an article after the gathering and mention about grief councelling and dealing with where to get help if one is suicidal . maybe you could write it ;-)
    Thanks for sharing Kristin ♥

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  2. Wow... I cannot believe the college is that scared of losing its social/education/whatever status that it has to be so disrespectful to the dead! At least the shrine was up for that long - it could have been taken down the night or day it was put up. But, still, wow.
    (Reading blogs during first hour at school, lol.. I need to write my post for today still, tho..)

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  3. Beautiful, moving!!! Thank you for sharing! ♥ ♥ ♥

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