Saturday, September 21, 2019

Charles Jackson - DAY 21

Charles Reginald Jackson was an American author widely known for his 1944 novel The Lost Weekend.

As a young teen, Jackson experienced a significant trauma. When he was thirteen years old, his older sister, Thelma, and younger brother, Richard, were killed while riding in a car that was struck by an express train.

As an adult Jackson struggled with an addiction to alcohol and pills. He suffered from mental illness and in the years prior to his death, he was repeatedly suicidal and hospitalized more than once. 

Jackson did have years of sobriety, but at the end of his life he suffered a relapse. Charles Jackson died by suicide on September 21, 1968. He was sixty five years old.

Charles Jackson 
April 6, 1903 – September 21, 1968

Friday, September 20, 2019

Friend, Follow, or Read Us - DAY 20

Suicide prevention, awareness, and advocacy should be easy to find. Everywhere. Always.

You can find Lighting Up the Sky on different venues other than just this blog. For example:

We follow and friend on FB:

We Tweet:

You can follow our every move and receive every post:
Don't forget, we curate recent suicide prevention and mental health news - just for you:

And Always Remember:

It is important to know that most social media platforms have methods to report if you are concerned that someone is making threats of suicide or appears to be announcing their plan to die by suicide. If a person is threatening suicide, the faster they receive intervention, the better. Reporting a concern does not mean that person will automatically be arrested or confronted. It does mean that people trained in suicide assessment will take a look at what is going on. Use these reporting methods whenever needed.

Facebook's Reporting Method

Twitter's Reporting Method

Instagram's Reporting Method

Snapchat's Reporting Method

No matter what your age, remember that it is ok to 'unplug' from social media for as long as you want. If anything on social media is causing you stress, take a break. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

No Army is Better - DAY 19

The soldier is the Army. No army is better than its soldiers.
- Douglas MacArthur

No focus on suicide prevention would be complete if we did not include military and veteran suicides. And no statement about suicide prevention would be complete if we didn't note that as a country, we must do better by the men and women who are actively engaged or are retired from military service. 

The most recent figures show that the statistic of 22 veterans dying by suicide (per day) has decreased incrementally, and is now closer to 20 veterans dying.

This is hopeful, but we must do better.

There are many things we can do today: talk about this issue and become an advocate for change; vote in order to make suicide prevention resources easily available to all; insist on suicide prevention accountability by the VA (United States Department of Veterans Affairs); insist on research funding allocation for advances in PTSD and head injuries; and more. These things are just a start.

If you would like to see the military/veteran related posts that have been posted on this blog, you can find them here:

Military / Veteran Suicide Specific Posts:

Our Voices Matter Interviews:

The Beauty of Grief Veteran / Military Posts:

PTSD  Posts:

Please Note: If you are a veteran or actively serving member of the armed forces and you are feeling hopeless or suicidal - please reach out. You can start by calling the Veterans Crisis Line. Your service to the country is appreciated. Your life matters. You are needed in this world.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Jamey Rodemeyer - DAY 18

Jamey Rodemeyer was an American teenager, known for his activism against homophobia, and his videos on YouTube to help victims of homophobic bullying.

Jamey encountered severe bullying throughout middle school, because of his sexuality. Comments posted anonymously on one of his social media accounts included hate messages such as:



"I wouldn't care if you died. No one would. So just do it :) It would make everyone WAY more happier!"

Despite this, Jamey used his experiences to make videos on YouTube using the pseudonym xgothemo99xx, in order to help others who were experiencing similar situations. He also made a video for the "It Gets Better Project", a website dedicated to preventing teen suicide.

Still, the impact of bullying on Jamey's life was tragic. His suicide was attributed to the constant bullying he endured. Because of his death
, reigning Miss New York Kaitlin Monte founded an online petition to bring the issue of cyberbullying (known as "Jamey's Law") to New York legislators. Shortly after, State Senator Jeffrey Klein proposed new cyberbullying legislation. The two joined to launch the New York Cyberbully Census.

Jamey Rodemeyer was only 15 years old when he died.

Jamie Rodemeyer

March 21, 1997 – September 18, 2011

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Chris Acland - DAY 17

Christopher John Dyke Acland was an English musician. He was the drummer of the English band LushAcland studied at North London Polytechnic, where he met his future Lush bandmates.  He played in a number of bands before founding Lush in 1988 with Steve Rippon, Emma AndersonMeriel Barham and Miki Berenyi

Chris Acland was known to struggle with depression. On October 17, 1996, after Lush had completed a tour and music festival appearances, he died by suicide. He was thirty years old. 

Christopher John Dyke Acland 
September 7, 1966 – October 17, 1996

Monday, September 16, 2019

Peg Entwistle - DAY 16

Millicent Lilian "Peg" Entwistle was a British stage and screen actress. She began her stage career in 1925, appearing in several Broadway productions. She appeared in only one film, Thirteen Women, which was released after her death.

Entwistle had a difficult childhood. She was estranged from her mother, and her father died when she was fourteen years old.

On September 16, 1932, just under ten years from her father's death, Entwistle died by suicide. 

Peg Entwistle was twenty four years old when she died.

Millicent Lilian "Peg" Entwistle 
February 4, 1908 – September 16, 1932

Sunday, September 15, 2019

And So I Wait - DAY 15

And so I wait. I wait for time to heal the pain and raise me to me feet once again 
so that I can start a new path, my own path, the one that will make me whole again.

― Jack Canfield

For my fellow survivors of suicide loss, this is a reminder, and an important one.

There is no timetable for grief. There is no 'you've been doing this too long' about grieving. There is no 'you need to move on' that is applicable.

How long you grieve and when it is that you are ready to move forward, is up to you. No one else. No well meaning friend, no frustrated family member, no impatient employer. No one. You are the one who gets to decide when you are ready, and in what ways you are ready. No one else.

Sometimes, we get confused about what our grief is supposed to look like. Many of us have heard about Elizabeth Kubler Ross's five stages of grief. They include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I think those stages should be renamed. I don't think they are stages at all. They are components. They are not linear. We do not move from one stage and toward another as if we have left the former stage permanently behind. That is not how it works. Sometimes we are angry one minute, then in denial the next minute and then we sit in acceptance. But then a few days/months/years later, you return to anger and depression.

Here is a graphic. The image on the left breaks down the stages of grief into subsets of stages. You move down into certain stages, until you are ready to begin climbing the road back to peace and total healing.

The image on the right however, is far more accurate in terms of my experience of grieving, and of the experience of many others.

On the WYG (What's Your Grief) website, in the article The Myth of the Grief Timeline, the author says this:

Grief is not a race with a start and finish line, it’s a labyrinth of twists and turns and dead ends. Grief is like trying to swim past the break in the ocean – you wade in but every once in a while a wave comes up and knocks you back a few feet. You’re still deeper than when you started, but not as deep as you were before the wave hit.

So please be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself. And move through your own grief on your timeline, no one else's. Understand that all the components of grief take time.

And that is perfectly ok. The way you are grieving and the time you are taking to do it, is perfectly ok.

You are perfectly ok.

I promise.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Owning My Story - DAY 14

If we can share our story with someone who responds 
with empathy and understanding, shame can't survive.
Brené Brown

I am a survivor of suicide loss. I have written about that. I am addict and alcoholic in recovery. I have written about that. I have an eating disorder. I have written about that, too.

But, until last year, I didn't write much about my own suicide attempts. Actually, I did do some writing in 2013, following my second and last attempt. I made some of that writing public, but within a month or two I removed the writing from public view.

I removed the writing for the same reason that I rarely write about my attempts now. I was ashamed. At that time, people contacted me and told me that they disagreed with my point of view, others contacted me and told me that I was being disrespectful toward my son by violating his privacy. Not that I was writing about him (I wasn't) but because he would undoubtedly be ashamed that his mother had attempted suicide. Out of respect for him (he was 16 at the time) I needed to hide the fact that I'd had an attempt. That is what I was told.

Every reluctance to write about my suicide attempts had been grounded in shame. The stigma in our culture is so strong. We are routinely told that those who attempt suicide are selfish, attention seeking, weak, sinners, inconsiderate, cruel, etc.. Those who die by suicide are taking their pain and without giving it a second thought, they are handing all that pain to someone else. That's what our society tells us.

Those who attempt suicide are everything that I don't want to be.

I can write about a lot of stigmatized issues that are close to home, but writing about my suicide attempts is one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I am not alone in this. In Jamie Brickhouse's article Overcoming The Shame of a Suicide Attempt (New York Times, May 2016), he says:

"As a recovering alcoholic I know that admitting to my behavior and owning my story is the only way it can no longer own me. I’m not ashamed of being an alcoholic, but I’m still ashamed of trying to kill myself."

For me, despite having feelings that were similar to Jamie Brickhouse's, there was a point about a year and a half ago, when I knew it was time to share my personal story. I was knee deep in suicide prevention advocacy, and I regularly bemoaned the stigma that deterred people from reaching out for help. But that wasn't my primary reason for talking about my own attempts. I was frequently exposed to people who were angry at those who'd taken their life. But, that wasn't my reason for talking about my own attempts, either.

I decided to write about my experiences with being suicidal, because in my suicide loss survivors groups, I kept hearing people say: "How could they leave me like this? Why wasn't I enough? Why weren't our children enough? How could they not have told me what they were planning to do?" These questions were agonizing for the people who were posing them.

I wrote about my attempts because people who didn't understand the complexity of  suicidality were in excruciating pain. And by and large, this pain reflected a general misunderstanding of what it is like to be suicidal. I wrote about my attempts because my fellow survivors of suicide loss, who were already in so much pain, exacerbated their grief by tormenting themselves over the possible answers to their questions. And I knew, most of the questions didn't actually apply to the circumstances under which a person loses their life to suicide. I knew I wasn't going to speak for all who have attempted suicide, but I also knew I was speaking for an awful lot of us.

I wrote about my attempts with the great hope that my story might help someone else who was suffering.

So today I will share my story again. It's long. (I'm 'wordy' as someone once told me.) But, it is thorough. Others have told me that my story was very helpful as they processed their loss. I am so glad. If you would like to read what I wrote, simply click on the picture below:

Friday, September 13, 2019

Feel Free To Share - DAY 13

Nothing is yours. It is to use. It is to share. If you will not share it, you cannot use it.

― Ursula K. Le Guin

Periodically, Lighting Up the Sky will share quotes, on our Beauty of Grief feature.  Many times I have been asked by readers if they can copy the graphic and use it as a meme on their social media or for other purposes. The answer is yes! Please do share. Here are copies of all of those quote images. Please feel free to copy and share any of them.

(If you have a favorite quote that is related to grief, loss, healing, or support, and you would like it to be included as a future Beauty of Grief post, leave the quote in the comments below.)

Quotes about healing:

Quotes about grieving:

Quotes about loss:

Quotes about supporting one another:

Thursday, September 12, 2019

George Washington Maher - DAY 12

George Washington Maher was an American architect during the first-quarter of the 20th century. He is considered part of the Prairie School-style and was known for blending traditional architecture with the Arts & Crafts-style.
Maher was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1916. During his lifetime, Maher designed over 270 projects; from houses to parks to public buildings. 
Maher suffered from frequent bouts of depression and was hospitalized for this reason from 1924 -1925. On September 12, 1926, George Washington Maher died by suicide. He was 61 years old.

George Washington Maher
December 25, 1864 – September 12, 1926