Thursday, November 01, 2007

A different kind of tourism

I intended to save this post for a few more days, waiting for the 6 month anniversary of my brother's death. But I saw this article today in the NY Times: Study Examines Suicide Tourism in New York City. The article examines the total number of suicides committed in NYC, and the percent of those committed by out-of-towners. It goes on to discuss the phenomena of "hot spots" for suicide as being well-documented, and lists the Eiffel Tower and Golden Gate Bridge as two other popular destinations. (The oh-so-slightly-crazy part of me giggles at travel guide feel of it.) They talk about how suicide is considered a "major, and preventable, public health problem." Barriers, awareness, surveillance, proximity of hotline phones.

Years ago, when I was dating a guy in San Diego, I thought it was strange they had the suicide hotline number posted all over the bridge. It makes so much more sense now. Do I know if my brother would have reconsidered killing himself if there was a barrier? A phone? If the tourist who saw him jump had said, "Beautiful day, isn't it?" I don't, and I try not to think about it.

I've learned alot in the last 6 months. I've learned what drugs can do to your body. I've learned how much my brother had changed before he died. I've learned just how much one person can cry over music or commercials on TV. I've learned about grief and anger and the loneliness that comes when someone you know dies. I've come a long way from this May - trying to be a better daughter, to ask for help when times are rough, to not bottle everything up, and to stop saying yes to everything. I've stopped forming expectations about the future of my family and how we'll all get through this, because I know we're all in different places now.

And somehow, that's given me peace. I've spent the last few weeks worrying about going north for Thanksgiving (and my birthday) and how we were going to deal with the fact my brother won't be there, back from his first few months at college. I can't draw up scenarios anymore, because whatever happens will happen. It's heartbreaking for sure, but you can't plan for heartbreak.

Thanksgiving, for me, was always about the turkey and pumpkin pie. This year, it's more about those left behind.


teresa said...


Anonymous said...

Holidays can be tough, that's for sure. Especially the first round. I'll be thinking about you.