Suicide difficult to understand

    Has anyone really thought about the late Natalie Summerfish? She decided to end her life on a beautiful Friday afternoon. While the majority of students were excited about the upcoming weekend or coming to terms with their homework load and shrugging it off, she believed that ending her life was the solution to her problems. My boss was the last person to see her a minute before she took her fall. She described Summerfish’s eyes as empty and sad, as if one could wave a hand in front of them and they would not even blink. She said that there was a “”bloodcurdling”” scream, as if Summerfish had regretted her decision when it was too late.

    I never knew Summerfish, and I cried when I heard the story. Wasn’t anyone there for her? Did she have anyone to turn to? The answers to these rhetorical questions must be no, because her case was severe. She never talked to anyone about how she was feeling. What distresses me is that she just decided that ending her life was the only solution. Did she think she would not be missed? Did she feel unloved?

    I also find it perplexing that we all heard about the suicide and let it go in one ear and out the other. The reaction from students, or the lack of reaction, amazes me. We hear that someone is no longer among us, and there is an awkward pause and a swift change of subject. One of the things that crossed my mind is the dynamics of social relations today. When we see people and we stop for a minute to say hello, but it remains very much at a surface level. We all are skilled in saying, “”What’s up?”” and “”Nothing much,”” but what scares me is that there can be so much hidden behind those “”superficial”” greetings. Summerfish’s suffering went unnoticed by her peers and her family.

    I believe in celebrating life. People around the world are dying every minute. Others may be in hospital beds facing death but fighting with every ounce of strength invested in them to remain alive. Kids are left orphans, and parents lose their children. Whereas death is very much a part of life, it should not be something that we choose for ourselves. Suicide is a selfish act because life in itself is a gift. I feel that the best approach is to take life lightly, because nothing is really worth dramatically stressing over. Nothing can be so bad that it cannot be overcome.

    I can understand that life can spiral you into a world that at times feels so hopeless that you just want out. But despite the outside pressures and expectations, it is a better approach to realize that you have one life to live, (ignore the cliche) and one should just live each day to the fullest extent. We have the control to make it better. If one feels lonely and depressed, I think that they need to stop and think about what they do have in terms of health and opportunity, and take a stand in improving their life. And while many may view this as optimistic and naive, I believe that sometimes that outlook will keep you sane and energetic. The argument stands that a depressed person may not want to make a change, but I find it hard to believe that one does not want to be happy and does not want to live. I think the people who are depressed are just comfortable in that zone and are afraid of reaching out. In truth, it is breaking barriers and overcoming difficulties that define living.

    According to Dr. Robert C. Mashman, the clinical director at Psychological and Counseling Services, the reality is that 20-30 percent of people are unhappy and do not value life. Whereas you and I may get up every morning with a huge list of things to do and a busy day ahead that we eagerly take in stride, others wake up believing that it is not worth it. They would be happier dead, and in the end, they do not cherish being alive and making their life worth living. We are all overwhelmed with stress, we all face bouts of depression and we all get frustrated with life. But I cannot accept that some of us have to choose death as an escape route.

    There are 23,000 students at UCSD, and next year, statistically up to two of them will commit suicide. Statistics show that someone commits suicide every 18 minutes, and someone attempts suicide every 43 seconds. These figures are absolutely disturbing. Suicide is a tragic public health problem, but I believe that it is a preventable one nonetheless.

    According to Mashman, approximately 10 people will commit suicide per every 100,000. He tried to soothe my troubling thoughts by explaining that this was a relatively low death rate. But is it? I think it is 10 too many. The thought of two of my fellow university classmates resorting to suicide as a “”way out”” leaves me disgusted.

    Summerfish’s act of suicide left me anxious. I recently lost a friend who had so much to live for, and hearing about Summerfish’s death made me think, she had so much to live for, too. I am concerned for all the people who contemplate suicide because I believe it is not a solution. Maybe each of us can try a little harder at being more attentive to those around us. It isn’t too much to smile and really ask how someone is doing. Life is an opportunity, and one has to find what they love and just do it. Life is short, and our goal should be to consider what is priceless and savor it. I mourn the loss of Summerfish because I feel her pain, and my heart reaches out to the family and friends she left behind. I also pray that more people will choose to live than to die because suicide should not be an option.

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