Something terrible happened today.
Sidney’s photography teacher was found dead in her classroom after she committed suicide by hanging. She was found by another teacher and several students. The details that followed after are available to read on internet news. I just can’t bring myself to write them all out. But suffice it to say that it was awful and I am abundantly thankful that G3 was across campus in class and that Sid was two doors down. Neither of them saw what occurred.
G3 didn’t know the teacher. He was shaken by the events but was more concerned about his sister’s wellbeing. He knew this would be hard on her. And it is. This teacher was a mentor to her. Sid loves photography and this teacher made her love it even more. Sid’s heart is broken, along with many, many others.
As a social worker and therapist I can fully understand the processes behind suicide and how a person can get to THAT point. Normally I feel empathy in these situations. Even respect for the courage it takes for someone to say, “Sorry God, but I’m done.”
Especially in medically assisted suicides where selfless decisions are made for the good of the ones they love. I certainly don’t condone suicide, but I get it.
I am also a believer that our days are numbered. It’s all part of the God debate that I have no intentions of getting into today. What I believe is that, whether she committed suicide or was in a car accident, today was going to be this woman’s last day.
Whatever her reasons were for the choices she made today are her’s and her’s alone. And although I don’t like to speculate, mental illness appears to have played a role here. She openly spoke about her father’s suicide and was very active in teaching students about suicide prevention. In the presence of true mental illness or not she clearly was not in a mental state that was healthy or safe. She was in a state of mind that she tried to help so many others avoid. There is so much irony and tragedy in what I just wrote, it’s mind boggling.
But … I am bothered. I am angry. And my following rant is not me just picking on a dead mentally ill woman. I would never do that. I worked with severely mentally ill patients for many years. I have a special place in my heart for them and the torment they experience. It is no joke. Mental illness is real and devastating if not treated. So if my feelings here offend anyone, I just don’t care.
But first, let’s discuss anger. Anger is part of the grief reaction and very normal. If you don’t believe me just look up the work of Elizabeth Kubler Ross or any other expert in the area of death and dying. This event hit very close to home and hurt many children, mine included. My anger does not diminish the gravity of this teacher’s illness or meant to shame her. It’s my reaction to the reality that she left her students and community to deal with. That being said, here goes.
I believe suicide tells a story. Often letters are left by victims to explain their actions. The level of violence used is explored by professionals to gain insight into the victim’s state of mind. Many aspects and details are looked at in an attempt to understand WHY the victim did what they did. But regardless of whether or not all the pieces of the story are uncovered, it remains a story without a happy ending. Family and friends are left devastated in the wake of one’s dark emotional suffering. A true tragedy for all … and totally preventable.
Her story didn’t need to end this way today. But it did. And she ended it in such away that she exposed children to severe emotional trauma. She chose to end her life in the very place she was teaching young formidable minds not to do such a thing. And she chose a time that she would likely be discovered by those same students. She knew, very well, the pain left behind as a result of suicide. She lived it. But yet today, she allowed many children to suffer because of what she did and where she did it. Could mental illness have clouded her judgement? Absolutely. Did it? No one will ever really know now. But I do know that I am angry that she left her students with such a confusing message.
My anger does not dismiss the tragedy of this teacher’s death or her inability to feel she could continue on with her life. All of it is insurmountably horrible. What her family, friends and, my God, her mother must be going through is utterly heartbreaking.
BUT … I mourn the innocence lost by her students who just wanted to come to class this morning. All they wanted, all they expected was a typical day at school. But what they got was an image of their beloved teacher, who hung herself in her classroom. You know, the teacher who diligently taught them that suicide wasn’t an answer.
Sadly, now THAT is the ending to her story. And yes, it makes me just a little bit angry.
Well, I hope you all had a day where you found some peace of mind!!!