Suicide Through the Cracks: The one the system missed

Posted: August 2, 2018 in addiction, Depression, inequality, mental health, psychiatry, psychology, stigma, suicide
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“You see the giant and the shepherd in the valley and Elah and your eye is drawn to the man with the sword and shield and the glittering armor. But so much of what is beautiful and valuable in the world comes from the shepherd, who has more strength and purpose than we can ever imagine.”
-Malcolm Gladwell

By Cortland Pfeffer

I survived a suicide attempt. I also spent years receiving treatment in rehab centers and psychiatric hospitals. However my friend, Joe, did not survive. He spent many years on the streets and in jails before taking his life on February 25, 2010. This is what suicide looks like. This is him after hanging himself.

There is no difference between us, besides our resources and the subsequent treatment we were provided. He grew up in a rough environment including his home, neighborhood, school, friends, and life experiences. I grew up in a family that had money, offered support, and always knowing I had a security blanket if things went astray.

That is how our stories began and unfortunately how one of our stories end. But did it have to end this way?

There is enormous stigma associated with the word “suicide.” People cringe when you even mention the word and immediately change the subject. If we are afraid to talk about it, how on earth do we think we are going to prevent it? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, taking more than 40,000 per year. At this rate, in one decade, we lose 400,000 people to suicide – equivalent to the entire population of Oakland, California.

When someone is suicidal, the typical reaction is “don’t talk like that!” or “that’s not even funny.” Or it turns to simplifying the situation such as, “other people have it worse than you,” or “just snap out of it, things will get better.” Nobody wants to “deal with it” and most people will adamantly refuse to even discuss it. You may even be considered selfish for having those thoughts and leaving close ones behind.

But when suicide does occur, the response is quite the opposite. Suddenly, everyone is there and feels terrible. They did not see the signs, never saw it coming, and can only talk about the amazing qualities of the deceased. It even goes as far as to hear people saying, “why didn’t they just reach out?”

If anyone has ever lost someone to suicide, they know the tremendous amount of pain associated. There may not be a worse feeling in the world. There are so many unanswered questions, “what ifs”, and “Should haves”. In the end, nobody commits suicide because they want to die, they commit suicide because they want the pain to go away.

I was suicidal, Joe committed suicide.

Part of the reason Joe is dead is because of the stigma associated with suicide along with the professionals he worked with that neglected and labeled him. He did not get treated as he deserved.

Joe didn’t have money, my family did. He went to jail and stayed long-term, I went to jail and got bailed out. He stayed in jail, while I was offered treatment instead. His crimes were all non-violent drug possession charges, mine were DUI, assault, and disorderly.

The difference? I had money and resources. Based on the information in the paragraph above, is there any other reason for the difference in penalties?

Joe and I were also born with the same temperament, which is more in tune with others emotions and greater sensitivity. This is neither good nor bad, just the way we were born. This is not to say that being emotional is guaranteed to create issues.

To be on this far end of the spectrum, along with consistently being denied needed support, along with the unhealthy environment is a formula for addiction. They refer to this as the biopsychosocial model. The biology is the genetics, the psychological refers to the emotional neglect and trauma, and the sociological refers to growing up in a broken home, overpopulated schools with minimal resources, poverty, and lack of positive role models.

But to also be denied the needed support on a consistent basis.

Some people are born more sensitive than others, which means they are going to get hurt more easily. Being an extremely sensitive male is vastly unacceptable in this society. It results in repeated invalidation such as “you are overreacting,” “you shouldn’t be feeling that way,” “men don’t cry,” “tough it out,” or “what’s wrong with you?” It also leads to being greatly misunderstood and isolation. The only way to gain acceptance is to create a mask, or a false self, to find a sense of belonging or purpose. People accept you when you wear your mask, which makes it more difficult to remove. But deep inside, we know it is not our true self.

For example, the mask teaches us that men are supposed to act out in anger when they are hurt. When we respond in anger, it is accepted. When we misbehave, we are accepted.

The mask brings us great power to finally feel alive. The more acceptance and connection the mask gains for us, the more we try to fill these roles. In fact, we start to believe that we are the mask we wear.

Then something bizarre happens. People turn on us for that exact same mask that they once praised. Suddenly you took things too far, you get labeled and judged for the same behaviors that were once glamorized.

This leads to addiction. It can be any substance or activity outside of ourselves that allows an escape from the pain. This can take the form of alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, co-dependency, anger, or any compulsive behavior that lets our soul temporarily come through the cracks in our mask.

Each culture and society has their own version of acceptable masks. But they all serve the same purpose, to escape the pain and hide from any difficult emotion. It grants us temporary relief, which is reinforcing, as it seems quite simple to take a pill, smoke a joint, or drink a beer and the pain instantly vanishes. This creates a pattern of depending on our substance/behavior, believing that we are killing the pain, but in essence we are only adding fuel to the fire. The need for the substance/behavior becomes a matter of life-or-death and we start doing things we normally would never imagine all in an effort to use again and ease the pain. These new behaviors get judged and labeled as being a “bad person” which only adds layers to the mask and we begin to hate the monster we have created.

And that is just it, we hate the monster, the false-self, the mask. We don’t hate ourselves, we hate the mask that we have been wearing.

So, the truth is when we say, “I want to kill myself,” we have it reversed. It is not the “self” that needs to die, it is the “I”. The “I” refers to the ego, the false self, the mask. We need to kill our false self and then the healing can begin.

As Eckhart Tolle states, “The secret of life is to die before you die, and find that there is no death.” He is referring to the death of the ego, the self-righteous suicide.

No health professional ever reached out to Joe, no one even talked to him, nor did they even know how to approach him. Instead they saw a “criminal” who was “angry” and was misjudged and mislabeled. While I went through the same difficulties, I was referred to as the “patient” that had a “disorder” and only needed proper treatment.

They never got to see beyond his mask. Joe was the most sensitive, caring, loving, and loyal person you could ever meet. However, that was not accepted in his culture so he became the angry, arrogant, drug addict – which is more acceptable. He wore this mask his entire life, hiding his true self which led to more drugs, crimes, and erratic behavior.

No one in the field ever even dared to think, “This is a genuinely caring kid who has never gotten a chance to show himself.” Because once the label is created, everything you do is attached to that label. They read your chart and a decision is made before the first encounter.

While my rap sheet was for more horrendous, I was considered “a poor sensitive kid that needs someone to love him.” Whereas Joe was considered “unreachable.”

The difference in outcomes is related to how the patients are treated. One of my favorite sayings is, “you can get anyone to tell you their secrets if you love them enough.” Yet, in this field we are told to get the deepest secrets of the client, but not get too close. It doesn’t work that way. I won’t show you what is behind my mask until you show me what is behind yours.

He let me see behind this mask and I let him see behind mine. And that is how true connections and relationships are built. I know the real Joe, something the “professionals” never took time to do.

Although I received better treatment, Joe was the better man. We shared a special bond and he would always reach out to me at times of need. One time he ended up in jail and had no place to go once released. He called me and we let him stay in our home for a while. On the first night at dinner, he looked to my wife and said, “this is the best food I’ve ever had.” And he meant it, to him it was everything, while I had become so grown so accustom to these things I had taken them for granted.

Joe had a unique following of people. He loved to love. If he had two dollars to his name, he would spend it on others. He gave just to give, never expecting anything in return. This is what attracted people to Joe, he was pure once you got to see behind his mask.

He also had a son, Anthony, who he loved more than anything. You could see and sense the love these two had for one another. Joe would always say, “I love you buddy” and kiss Anthony. I never saw a man kiss his little boy before, it was admirable. I make sure that I do that with my three-year-old son now and I think of Joe every time.

Anthony never saw the labels of “drug addict,” “bipolar,” or “criminal.” That is the beauty and genius of children, they do not see masks or labels. Anthony only saw him as I did, as an angel. A kind, beautiful human with so much severe pain that nobody knew existed.

His friends started showing up at the house, and I started coming home to see my 10-year-old daughter sitting at home with a bunch of strange men I’ve never met.

After a few warnings we told him he couldn’t stay here if these people kept showing up on their own. He told his friends to wait until he was home, but they refused to listen. That’s the downfall of being so pure, people will take advantage of you. It broke my heart, but we had to remove him from our home for safety of our daughter.

A few months later I received an email that gives me chills just thinking about.

“Joe is dead. He hung himself.”

He didn’t call me this time. Perhaps the pain grew too great that he didn’t want someone to talk him out of it one more time. I had kicked him out, I was his support, and the guilt I carry with me is insurmountable at times.

So, when people ask me why I fight so hard for patients, this is one of the main reasons. If we lived in a just world, Joe would have received the treatment I received and he would be with us today. If we lived in a world guided with love, somebody would have built trust with him, got to know him, and offer the services he needed. But in a world guided by fear, we judge, label, and allow 40,000 cases like Joe happen each year.

People do not go away when they die. Only the false self dies along with the body. Our spirit lives on forever. The things Joe passed on to me, I still carry and pass along to my children. He is with all of us that remember him. He is here right now as long as we let him in.

I love you Joe.

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Taking the Mask Off” is the new book by Cortland Pfeffer and Irwin Ozborne. Cortland Pfeffer spent years as a patient in psychiatric hospitals, treatment centers, and jails before becoming a registered nurse and working in the same facilities. Based on his experience, this story is told from both sides of the desk. It offers a unique and valuable perspective into mental health and addiction, revealing the problems with the psychiatric industry while also providing the solution – one that brings together science, spirituality, philosophy, and personal experience.

“Taking the Mask Off: Destroying the Stigmatic Barriers of Mental Health and Addiction Using a Spiritual Solution” is available on Amazon, and Balboa Press

  1. We are sorry for the loss of Joe. Let him live on in our work, and play. Many things arise from your considering him, some deep theoretical things good for their own sake as well as for the practice of trying to help one another. You say: “We have it reversed. It is not the self that needs to die, it is the I… our false self, the mask.” We Jungians are grooving here, because you’re getting at what he calls the “persona” and its relation to the “ego.” Then you cite Eckhart. Here’s the thing: one often suspects that suicide is related symbolically to the sacrifice involved in penance that leads to the mystery of rebirth. That is why the teaching that is forbidden is so important: When the soul comes to this place, and looks up to the Most High, it can find forgiveness, and enter the sacrifice symbolically rather than literally. Suicide, then, is, in some kinds, a literalization of the self sacrifice involved in the mystery of baptism. This is as in Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Chapter 6: [read this:1-14…] So, it is the “old self,” which includes the persona, but is a bit deeper: the cause of the persona, our self-interested or appetitive nature. When we realize that we are indeed not fit to be in the Presence, but that we are forgiven if we ask, we are able to stand naked before the Lord, and enter the pool. The sacrament has an invisible meaning. The nature of the soul bears witness to the truth of the Christ. We wear a mask when we consider ourselves, because the law convicts us, of sin in general as well as in particular. “Original sin” refers to this Old Adam nature and the division between law and sin that leaves the soul under a painful strain, the very strain relieved by drugs. (We like the old home remedies like a beer or wine in the evening, if one can avoid addiction, and note that there is a reason that people smoke.) But the impulse to this, the birth of the true self, leads some to think and imagine literally hurting and killing themselves, which we should not literally do.
    This is the image of God in man, and so we die and are raised with the Christ, and without the Way, would not on our own be able. So with prayer “the spirit intercedes” (Romans 8:26). But the image of god in man is also what is born, and is the cause of the law of Noah at Genesis 9:6, the reason for the law against murder as well as for the law against adultery, or the laws governing both anger and lust: “since God made man in his image…” The same is the stone, and the basis of any true psychology, our access to “metaphysics” and the archetype of the political regimes, it is what the legislators look to in legislating. Its fulfillment is the crown, the royal virtue of one able to govern man with the intention to cure.
    But as for the contrast between friendship and professional help, some interesting questions arise here. We need a footnote to Pete Townshend’s Quadrophenia, “The Doctor,” and to the character of the Doctor in Shakespeare’s King Lear. The kind of professional help that prescribes “Zoloft” et al, after a fifteen minute interview, and perhaps “Abilify” after a follow up, gaining certain benefits from the manufacturer, this is like an abomination to the “profession.” Because, oh, we are trying to imitate the hard sciences of chemistry and biology, we assume that all human things have biological, or chemical, or behavioristic, or economic or physical or sociobiological or neurological causes? A true friend might rather proscribe the non-toxic, if mildly addictive organic marijuana, and share some beer and a pizza, as send one there for “professional” help! Depression has a psychological function: it aims at change, because something is not right. If we dull the depression with drugs, do we not frustrate nature in our souls? And are these druggings related to an increase in violent episodes or public crises? No one has commissioned such a study? A true profession is like a trade, based on knowledge. Show us then the knowledge of man! And the way across the water! Professionals help by providing objectivity that is outside of friendship while at the same time being a friend considering the odd circumstance of “therapy.” They also have experience, and may have refined common sense, as well as the authority to keep people safe in a crisis. But while more public help is needed, psychiatry must be more humble, or more honest about its ignorance. Its function is first practical, to keep people safe and provide a place to heal, as in the true meaning of “asylum.” Not a lobotomy, as for Rose Kennedy, to make her stop talking so inconveniently. But the function of the psychiatric profession is unlike the rest of medicine because we do not have knowledge of the soul the way that physicians have a science of the body. The royal knowledge eludes us, though we can appeal to it, and try our best. I am now trying to study David, who played the lyre to make Saul well when the latter was in bad spirits. Our dreams may help us because the soul itself contains knowledge. For some, the liberal arts can fill the radical emptiness of the soul in the modern world, and the integration of knowledge from the unconscious counters the splitting of the “phrene” called “schizophrenia.” In this sense virtue is the health of the soul, virtue is knowledge or wisdom, and virtue also is happiness in the fullest sense, the first principle of the true psychology.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I am a survivor too. I attempted suicide twice, when I was very young, but I remember actually feeling suicidal as young as age six. After the second attempt, I decided I obviously could not even do that right, and in an attempt to prevent failing again, I chose not to try again. But I lived to survive my closest brother’s suicide. He was two years older than I, and at one time when we were in our early thirties, he told me he believed our bond was unbreakable; that we shared a soul. He’d had drug and alcohol problems all his life, and everyone who knew him knew that eventually, he would take his own life. We assumed he would OD, which would have left us room to believe, if we so chose, that he simply made a mistake and took too much of whatever killed him. In 1998, he came to live with me. He was clean and sober, and such a joy to be around. He’d been that way for quite some time. And then one night he went with a friend to a Violent Femmes concert and never really came back to me. His body did, but he was using again. I lived in an apartment building; I had neighbors beside me and upstairs. In a drunken stupor one day I watched him light a cigarette, drop it on the floor, light another… drop it, and repeat that over and over. If I’d lived alone, I would have let him stay; I would have given him another chance. Instead, I had him physically removed from my home. I still remember his eyes pleading with me the last time I saw him. Please, he said. Just give me one more chance. But I could not risk the lives of innocent neighbors. He left me a letter when he left. Told me he still believed in that shared soul; that I’d done the right thing and never to blame myself. And he headed cross country where six months later, in a borrowed camper and a stolen sawed-off shotgun, he ended his life. He left no room for us to believe it was an accident. Sixteen years later, I still wonder what would have happened, had I given him just one more chance. He took from me not only my precious brother but the best friend I’d have turned to in a time of grief. He took half my soul. Or so I thought. Eventually, I realized that my soul was scarred, and the wounds rip wide open again at times (like now) but it is intact. In fact, I think he left that “other half” with me. I see things like I never saw them before his death. I interpret, I feel, I survive each and every day.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oh My god. This is heartbreaking. It Is So Similar To Joe And My story. So sad to read. We have to end this. There are so many more going through this today.

      Liked by 2 people

    • His body came back to you but he never did. Wow. Poetic and sad and I know true.

      Sharing of one soul I’d exactly how I feel about my brother.

      He told you goodbye in his own way.

      We have alot in common my new friend

      Liked by 2 people

      • Reading this all again, after all this time. I don’t think I saw your comment previously, or I’d have replied then. I agree; our stories are more similar than not. Other than one thing: I am female. What Jim saw was that I was the strong one, because I could ask for help. I really didn’t, though. I hid behind a mask of my own.

        Jim often told me that the times he felt the best were when he was in jail. When he’d had a chance to sober up and get his head together. Looking back now, I wonder if that’s because he didn’t have to keep the mask on, in jail. See, he had a record, too. Breaking and entering,(never stole anything; just broke into an abandoned building), contributing to the delinquency of a minor (who was three months younger than he,) and DWI. He lost his license for life, and took it seriously, unlike some others I know who continued to drive after a DWI or DUI, and continued to drive drunk. Jim did not. He cared too much about others. It was not unlike him to simply stop by with a gift for me, out of the blue. He was also the only person who knew he could call me any time, day or night, and I would be there. Sometimes those calls were desperate. Sometimes he was just bored, sitting by a phone booth in a truck stop somewhere at 1 a.m. and decided to pass the time chatting with his little sister.

        There is a side to this which you may have touched on, but not in the same words I’ve always used, and I want to bring it out because so many people don’t understand it. People say “I should have done more for him” or “I should have loved him more.” as if that would have changed things. It wouldn’t have. In fact, I think this was something only I understood about Jim. I’ve always said he felt guilty for being so loved, because he felt unworthy of it. The reason I said this was because it was how I felt. I felt people saw the mask and loved the mask, and not the girl behind it. They may have loved her too; we will never know. What I do know is that Jim was the only person in the world who did not love Jim. He was charismatic, sweet and generous to a fault. The girls he dated in high school still love him. (He would have turned 60 in January.) He loved no one casually. It was either passionately, or not at all. And this included his love for me. He would have laid down his life for anyone… even for our abusers. But I was different, because I knew the real Jim. I knew the tortured soul inside.

        When he left us, I know that he did so fully believing it was the best thing for everyone. He couldn’t carry the guilt, any more. Guilt for what? For being loved. Because he hurt people all through his life, with his addictions driving his behavior. He abandoned people. He emotionally abandoned people. And then he felt too guilty to go back, for fear he’d just do it again. So when he held that gun to his throat (the coroner described it as “the most thorough suicide” he’d ever seen, he did so because, even though he knew it would hurt us again, it would be the last time he could hurt us.

        He was wrong. It has been 18 years this month, and it still tears me apart. I can’t imagine that will ever stop.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Juliano says:

    Don’t let guilt destroy you. You were very concerned about your daughter and those strange men. Imagine how you would have felt if anything had happened to her? So you were being responsible.

    My very first LSD trip when 15 years old featured profoundly seeing peoples (they weren’t tripping. I was at a party and three hippies had given me the LSD, and I had not known what the tiny tiny pill even was!) body language so deeply I was seeing behind their masks! I found this absolutely hysterical and nearly died giggling

    The next trips took away the mask of this civilization which dulls us to the natural world via its ‘education’ enforced propaganda, and its mass media. Even at that young age I had become dulled to nature and threw litter at it–sure sign of disrespect, and disconnection–and was absolutely obsessed with my image of big cities, neon, flyovers, skyscrapers, crowds of mean people! I heard a story that in NYC when a person falls over people just stop over them, and that excited me. So I was not only being dulled but was being bred with a growing sadistic streak. THAT is what this culture does to people

    I do not think people generally understand the enormous trauma which has happened to us being divided from our own natures, and the natural world! But that is what is happening. Many people made to think of themselves reduced to consumer-robots without free will. if THIS is not the roots of dis-ease I don’t know what is!! Previous to this, and which is part OF the insanity was the religious indoctrination of a ‘soul born in sin’ into a ‘fallen nature’ brought about ny our first ancestor’s sin against ‘God’.

    All of this goes deep into us. We are not just rational beings, but more deeply creative, imgainative mythical mysterious beings, and in extreme states which this cultre alls ‘mental illness’ tthe individual can find themselves in mythical realms (have you read John Weir Perry’s Trials of the Visionary Mind ?) And these myths which have been used by control freak elites to divide and control us have an unconscious effect. This is why I explore all about

    I even critique Jungianism. Usually Jung is supposedly the name that pops up regarding ‘depth psychology’, but Jungians also are usually apolitical and classist. Similar to how you saw one rule for you who had money and support and far less for your friend. Well Jugnianism is like that

    What we NEED is not ‘experts’ but grass roots community understanding. A multi-disciplinarian approach that looks at ALL the masks of the patriarchy and how they contribute to the insanity of this world. Question, question, question is what I encourage

    Liked by 4 people

    • Question question question is right

      You are right we are divided from our true nature. Who we are is told to be hidden. This is the result of all of that.

      This comment was beyond brilliant

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi! Try Lao Tzu, the Tao te Ching, 81 short poems. Also, Plato’s Euthyphro and Apology and Meno. These are very easy to read compared to mod psych lingo. The highest writers, like St. John in his gospel, suddenly become very simple, like Lao Tzu. Jung is pretty hard to criticize, (but it is possible). Christianity has a false appearance in the world, which people accidentally hate. Original sin? Penance is deeper than deeds or particular actions. Therefore….See Plato’s Meno. It is a sin to strike the image of God that is man, and this includes ourselves, because we did not make ourselves and do not own ourselves. Socrates says it’s like if one of your servants ran away from his service, how would the owner feel (slavery was different then, not so race based, etc. Nor is jung race stuff, though people misunderstand the collective psyche stuff, so perhaps to these we should not speak openly.) So, Socrates’ point is that our lives have a purpose beyond ourselves, and in fact, for ourselves, it is sort of neutral whether we continue, especially a very painful life. “The un-examined life is not worth living” is a Socratic saying, and a lot of our psychological agony is a natural impulse to lead an examined life. We goofy people are at least awake or awakening, if we can be calm and careful! But it is not about ourselves or serving our own comfort, but serving God by tending the garden, eh?, like Adam was placed in the garden “To till and keep it.” Again people do not read Genesis because of the appearance in the world made by people who use God for their own authority and gain, but also never read it very carefully. Like we want God to serve us, rather than us serve God! “Oh gimmie a Mercedes Benz!” Don’t believe me, believe Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, side two of Aqualung! Careful reading is very hard, takes longer than our whole lives, but is most worthwhile. Try it! And yes, question, question question.

      With people on the edge, it is important to remind of our purpose. I even take care of myself for my cats, because if I died, say, got plugged on the highway, who would open the cat food cans?

      Like the message to Scroodge in a Christmas Carol, he is shown what would happen to Cratchet’s kid if he does not change. This is real. God is not a willful puppeteer of the universe to be blamed for malice and misfortune. That guy is more like Zeus painted with Biblical images. Again, read, (here Luke 13:1-5; the word will is not in the Greek at “not a sparrow falls to the ground…but is a mis-translation, based on a misunderstanding. It just says “without your Father”, i.e., his presence).” We have to do it, and the whole world might even be so that we learn to till and keep it, the Garden of the Lord that we do not own, and again, did not make.

      Peace-Love and blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. givingleaf says:

    Reblogged this on Life Shpeels and commented:
    Please read this.. the stigma has to be removed : sharing in the pain is way more helpful than thinking it’ll all go away if we don’t look at it.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. rubiredsaid says:

    A remarkable person is Joe!
    A commendable person you are!
    Today’s society is in general selfish, unfeeling, and greedy, so with that where people cry out for help very few hear them.
    (suicide attempts are quite often frustrations, and definitely cries for help. I’ve been there.)
    At times you can be surrounded by so many people yet you cannot talk to them for being judged, or gossipped about, which does not help!
    You are so interesting to read with good topics.
    Best wishes.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. dougmb says:

    Reblogged this on dougmb and commented:
    “In the end, nobody commits suicide because they want to die, they commit suicide because they want the pain to go away.” Far too few understand this…

    Liked by 3 people

  7. dougmb says:

    Great post. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Beauty by Brooke LeAnne says:

    I’m so so sorry for your loss. This hit close to home. What a moving and powerful post!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. GaviaSwimmer says:

    RIP Jason Lovell, who drowned himself after being told by Humboldt State University Counselling and Psychological services that he had used up his eight allotted counselling sessions.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Yasmin says:

    A great post. Money does not just buy an education….it can buy more time…

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Oh my, this blog rocked me to the core of my soul. Thank you for waking me up , even just for today.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Ellen Hawley says:

    This is a fine tribute to Joe. May it help something worthwhile grow out of his loss.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. […] appeared at Taking the Mask Off. Reprinted with […]

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Not So Cold says:

    This is amazing writing. I was not expecting to be moved so deeply. I have survived (or backed away from) several suicide attempts. For something so serious and dangerous, it is shocking how unwilling people/professionals are to talk about it. This post made me think about how we are losing some of our kindest people by denying the painful truth of suicide. Not talking about it doesn’t make it go away. It only leaves the sufferer to deal with it on their own. The health services failed your friend. My heart reaches out to you and your family.

    May I post this and a link to your site on my blog?

    Liked by 2 people

  15. […] Suicide Through the Cracks: The one the system missed, By Cortland Pfeffer, Edited By Irwin Ozborne […]

    Liked by 1 person

  16. a deeply moving and honest post . thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. pixieannie says:

    A brave and courageous piece. It’s something I’m not afraid to talk about. I am a survivor but I know it is something that will remain with me forever. I do know that the more we speak out about it, the more that others will feel encouraged to have a voice. I know that some medical staff treat suicide attempts as time-wasting, attention seeking efforts but these are real people with real needs and they deserve time and understanding. Mental Health is fragile and treated like a bad smell by far to many…it is real and is happening right now as I type this comment.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Advanced Research Technology says:

    My guess is that both you and Joe are empathic. Not only that, but probably quite spiritual in a non-religious way as well. This is an advanced state of consciousness. It will take the world a bit to catch up.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. samratkel says:

    This is a very insightful and very personal exploration of suicide and the diversity in how people are labelled and treated in society. I so agree with the mask that can be acceptable until its not. “Society” has too much say in what is acceptable and doesn’t see enough of the consequences.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. dweezer19 says:

    I am sincerely and without reservation so very sorry. I have four sons. The one thing that I have tried to impress upon people is that young men and teens are no less tender and angsty than girls but it is not accepted or acknowledged that they too go through the emotional struggles that young women do. All you stated is true about acceptance, the masks we, as societal beings, are forced to wear and the fact that inauthenticity has such a devastating impact on sensitive people, both male and female.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. A-sheep-LikeFaith says:

    Glad you wrote this! It needs to be talked about openly in our society so we may learn how to respond to and support one another.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. […] Source: Suicide Through the Cracks: The one the system missed […]

    Liked by 1 person

  23. […] Source: Suicide Through the Cracks: The one the system missed […]

    Liked by 1 person

  24. You are a beautiful soul that has learned how to embrace sadness, speak out for its recognition, and the places it can take people, such as suicide. Please keep talking about that. It’s important for it to become familiar…and taken seriously. Your angels are with you tonight. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Bonnie Handy says:

    Beautifully written. Speaks the truth of the reality that needs to come out into the open.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Mrun says:

    Reblogged this on justlegible and commented:
    Please read and understand. Don’t just judge.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. […] via Suicide Through the Cracks: The one the system missed — takingthemaskoff […]

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Thank you. My mother suffered from manic depression for nearly 20 years. Afetr marriage, my family assumed that her behavior was part of her character. Even I only realized her problem when I was in the tenth grade. But, her mask would be taken off every time she screamed at me as I was about to leave for college but asked me if I had picked up my lunch. Her deep and possessive love for me shone through during every episode. I owe her so much.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. SZR Hossain says:

    That’s really true. You wrote well. You show a deeper thought

    Liked by 2 people

  30. szrhossain says:

    That’s true you have show a deep thought

    Liked by 3 people

  31. szrhossain says:

    It should be bookmarked. beautiful contribution. thanks for that

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Love Lee says:

    Thank you so much for posting this and bringing awareness! It means so much to be personally. Xx Lee

    Liked by 2 people

  33. shubham says:

    Sad to know about it. I know few folks similar to joe who are much more concerned about other’s happiness knowing that their happiness lies in other’s happiness. Money or worldly comfort is not important to them but the love of their closed one’s matters to them the most. Sometimes Seeing their friend circle makes us imagine how come someone so pure has surrounded himself from all those goons and crabs. RIP Joe. Stay Blessed. I hope anthony is doing fine and concerned that in this run of life he doesn’t forgets the affections his father had for him and the love, Joe lighted in his heart shall always be bright. Its nice to share feelings it gets you lighten. Me, Even I wanted to share the feelings which my mask doesn’t permits to share but i am denying it for now as i collected few guts while reading through your feelings above.
    Sometimes i do not want myself to be known Neither i want to know anybody. Sometimes i would like to be with people be as happy as they are but something stops me. I guess that’s my MASK Which is stopping me from being happy. Since i have always assume myself to be a person who was misunderstood, Maybe i also could have done all those stunts in childhood if someone would have showed some support. Maybe i would have been in the default human state of joy and happiness if i would have raised that way. Maybe i would have not been in isolation if i would have found someone whom i can rely on. People nowadays, they expect you to be smart, be proactive they cant tolerate you being slow, dumb. you cannot use your heart …instead you have to use your mind every time you make a decision. Seemed to me my all senses were junked but for now i got few small holes in it. These all words are coming from these holes. I Could have leaded In a journey to find myself again but in this world (the world which i saw) they do not need boring, emotional, weak instead they will prefer exaggerating, tough and cold heart. that’s why most of the people are losing their own selves in order to come level with the society and streets. Some of them like me might have already forgot how it was used to be when were child …. it wont be a mistake to say innocent-crazy-but-loving-child who has almost forgot how it used to be when we were child. How we used to feel positive and affection around us. How we quickly run to the person we need but as of now we wear the mask so we cannot straight away run to whom so ever we want instead their are formalities which started nurturing in every relation we make. As in like neither other nor you remember what were you hiding behind the mask from others. For me it depends on my environment of me being affectionate and caring or jealous and cold hearten. I guess someday i will be in such an environment where I don’t have to think and speak each and every-time, Where i can lay my feeling without being judged. Someday….

    Liked by 2 people

  34. The Lighthouse RSAP says:

    ❤ ❤ ❤ Thank you for sharing! I love this, 'So, the truth is when we say, “I want to kill myself,” we have it reversed. It is not the “self” that needs to die, it is the “I”. The “I” refers to the ego, the false self, the mask. We need to kill our false self and then the healing can begin.' This is so true.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. randyran80 says:

    Powerful article and thanks for sharing with the world. It’s comforting to know that all sorts of health issues we have to deal with on account of imperfection will be replaced with perfect health.

    24 And no resident will say: “I am sick.”

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Grace Sciberras says:

    Thank you for posting. Regardless of how people perceive someone’s background, there should always be help available.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Lee Poskey says:

    The answer to everything…is to receive life in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    Not religion, not self improvement.
    But putting one’s faith solely in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Grace and peace to you

    Liked by 2 people

  38. […] Source: Suicide Through the Cracks: The one the system missed […]

    Liked by 1 person

  39. scarlettcat says:

    This is very well-written and powerful post.
    One of my best friends committed suicide a few months ago. He was from a wealthy family and he had a drinking problem. He was going to be interviewed by a rehab center technician the day after he died. Mental health stigma also kills. He always refused treatment. He didn’t want to take medication. I was the last friend to be with him the day he died. He threw himself out of a balcony 30 minutes after he was with me. I was in shock. I blamed myself for it, which is a normal thing in these cases.
    I hope he is better now, I hope he found the peace he was looking for.

    Liked by 1 person

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