Slow Demise

On Christmas Eve of 2016, I received a phone call from Baltimore’s Shock Trauma Center.

“Hello, this is Dr. T,” the caller said. “I’m the physician for your son, Adam. He was rushed to Shock Trauma last night. He jumped off a three-story building and landed on a car. Fortunately, he was under the influence, so he fell like a rag doll and only fractured three vertebrae.”

“My son . . . what?” I gasped.

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Empty Bottle

I suppose, in retrospect, my cousin’s death should have been labeled as a suicide.

Her depression and self-medication with copious amounts of vodka might have served as a premonition of her early demise. Her controlling, narcissistic, Catholic mother doled out plenty of guilt after my cousin’s divorce. Loneliness was her steadfast companion, along with a usually almost-full bottle of vodka.

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Healing: A Medical Student’s Perspective

Once, I accidentally burned my hair while turning it flamingo pink. As I slowly cut off the long, singed locks, with scissors too small for one clean cut, I was surprised by how light I felt with each snip. “Touché,” I chuckled to myself.

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Section 12

We medical providers care for countless patients who feel depressed. For those folks, sometimes life feels so difficult and terrible, that they have thoughts of wishing they didn’t exist, or that the world would be better if they didn’t exist. Sometimes these patients have a plan to end their lives. The more concrete the plan, the more we worry.

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My Marriage Was on the Rocks

When I was 31, my marriage was on the rocks and I considered suicide.

It was shortly after the birth of our second daughter. My husband’s main income-producing customers took their business elsewhere. In oxytocin-induced, breast-feeding bliss at home with our girls, I trusted that he’d recover. But he was in denial regarding the severe downturn in our financial stability, and he recovered neither emotionally nor financially. My bliss shattered.

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An Elderly Patient’s Options

A year ago, I suffered a cardiac emergency. While I was standing at the bathroom sink, I felt dizzy, and the next thing I knew, I was lying on my back on the floor, with my head cushioned on top of a package of toilet paper. I might have died there, peacefully, but I woke up. I thought that drinking some water might help, but when I stood to do so, I felt dizzy at the kitchen sink. I scurried to flick the front door’s deadbolt open, and then I lay down and telephoned the police and fire departments.

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The Therapist in a Box

Growing up, I always got wonderful gifts from Hope, my mom’s best friend since high school. She would get me colorful knee socks, puzzles she designed herself as a professional artist, and confetti that spelled my name.

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The Price of Prevention

It was Mother’s Day and my neighbors had invited me out to brunch. The two of them had met in a diner in New York where Mary was the server and he was a conductor on the railroad. I met them when they decided to retire to Florida and bought the condo next door.

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No Turning Back

When I was a freshman in high school, two of my classmates lost their mothers to suicide. Going to their funerals, my first ones, was traumatic. I remember struggling not to giggle—a blatantly inappropriate response—but for whatever reason, that is how my emotions chose to express themselves. I spent many sleepless nights after these tragedies, haunted by images of my parents hurting themselves.

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February More Voices: Suicide

Dear Pulse readers,

My cousin Pedro had pale, northern European skin and straight brown hair–looks that contrasted with the olive complexion and black waves of his adoptive parents, my Cuban uncle and aunt, and their two biologic daughters.

My brother and I met Pedro when we went to visit my uncle’s family in Colombia. He was about sixteen at the time, an outgoing teen who dressed well, liked to party and had Playboy photos stuck to the walls of his bedroom.

A few years later, he took his own life.

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