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  • Writer's pictureAnne Brest



Whenever we hear of someone either attempting to or actually committing suicide, one of the first things I hear people saying is “if only we had known” (how desperate he/she actually was). My question to you is, what would you have done differently??

A very close friend of mine’s mother took her own life ten years ago, just before Christmas and in her suicide note she mentioned, among other things, that she just couldn’t face another Christmas alone, nor could she face one more weekend alone. And the thought of the “end of the year holidays” looming up ahead of her with everyone going away, was something she just couldn’t face up to.

So please LISTEN to yourselves when you hear yourselves saying “if only we had known”. Because in the case of my friend’s Mother, (and many, many other cases, I am sure) people DID know. They knew she was depressed and they knew she was alone, and how she struggled with that. They knew holiday time was a bad time for her, but that didn’t stop them for merrily skipping off to their holiday homes, leaving her “home alone”. When they got back and heard the news, they all said “if only we had known” But they DID know!!! I still wonder how her “friends” could have left her. Another favourite expression I keep hearing from friends is “I am sure she didn’t mean to do it, it was surely a “cry for help”. Well, to everyone out there, she DID mean to do it, it was not a cry for help at all, she was tired of crying and didn’t want to cry any more.

Please try to imagine how it must be for lonely people, and don’t leave them alone over holiday times, and don’t leave them alone on Sat. nights either. Include them in your arrangements. Just because they are single and alone, doesn’t mean they want to sit “home alone”. Try to imagine how they must feel, particularly when you are all excitedly discussing your holiday plans.

When community members take their own lives, the Minister may make mention of it in his sermon, shaky of voice, white faced, the community in shock, but we hear of suicides all the time.

Far be it for me to judge anyone, but please understand, I feel that people are not really “aware” of how (even their close friends) people feel and then, when it’s too late, they berate themselves saying “if only we had known”. I am merely discussing the reasons my friend’s Mother gave. I am not discussing (nor would I even attempt to) all the other reasons people have for taking their own lives.

Please try to realise that many people who are widowed or divorced are sensitive about it, even though they don’t show it outwardly. Please be gentle with them. You have no idea how close that person can be from the “edge” and you would not want your carelessly spoken words, G-d forbid, to give them the final “push. You wouldn’t want to be the one to cause them pain, or hurt, and how often have thoughtless words devastated a widow or a divorced person.

Please be diplomatic and don’t tell them that you saw their ex recently and what a great guy you think he is, and how beautiful his new wife is!

Please don’t invite them to your “Simchas” (weddings) without a partner. (Give them the option of whether they want to bring a partner or not)

Please try to invite them on holiday with you. Don’t leave them “home alone”. Holiday time can be very distressing to a person depressed by their divorce or widowhood... And if you are inviting them to go on holiday with you, please let them feel an “enhancement’ to your holiday, rather than a nochshlepper (hanger on).

Please don’t tell them that there are two sides to every story, when they try to tell you what went wrong in their marriage. It makes people feel you don’t believe them, and

That you have to “prove” that what you are telling them is correct. !!


And worse still, the words “yours, his, and the truth”. What on earth do people mean when they say this? That you are lying to them?? Besides, sometimes there are “not” always “two sides to every story”. This is just a cliché and if you think about it, it has no real sense in its meaning at all.

Please be gentle with people. Some people have the ability to hide their true feelings and just because you see them laughing and happy, do not mean, at all, that they actually are. Of course we can’t go around always watching our “Ps and Q’s” but we should try to be more diplomatic and think before we open our mouths, and hurtful sentences come out.

So if just ONE life can be saved through people being more aware, then writing this article was worth it.


Contact details.

Cel: 082 452 7166


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