One of the truths you learn as a news photographer. We all die. Some of us see it coming and some depart this planet not knowing what hit them.
Tonight I attended the memorial of a student of mine. He chose to leave. Otherwise known as suicide.
I cannot even begin to imagine the grief the family is going through, but tonight they came and they were brave. The Hmong Club at my school wanted to show their respect and love for a fellow student and moved so quickly not even the administration knew the event was scheduled for today…but my principal okayed it quickly with the understanding we were not to glorify suicide. Understandable – I’ve seen my share of copycat deaths.
What touched the parents and other family members was seeing all the young caring faces…some smiling, some tear-stained. All there to remember and recognize and celebrate the life of their child.
My contribution came as candles were lit. We all die. A simple truth. But we all have the opportunity to grab life and make it ours…to live and remember and be outrageous and have great joy and sadness. Without pain there is no joy. Without darkness we cannot understand light. Take risks…love and be hurt and move on to love again. And remember those still with you and those departed. Say “I love you” every day to those who are close to you. Hug your friends. We newsies know that death comes quickly and without warning. But we also know that life will go on…and memories are forever.
Addendum: There is a reason suicides rarely make the news. There is a societal taboo surrounding suicide. It is viewed as a private matter – a person vs. their own inner devils or delight…a mind vs. itself. It may also be a source of embarrassment to the family (again, a societal taboo).
Although the ripple effect of a suicide touches many, there is no direct threat to society, unlike a murder or raging epidemic. The danger in reporting suicide lies in its attraction. The warm embracing arms of the Lorelei…a fatal attraction for those who may be considering a similar option.
It is called self-censorship…but at times suppression of facts leaves many wondering what really happened…