When Despair Wins


When I was in my late teens, a girl I’d known in high school committed suicide. We weren’t close, but it shook me. From what I understood later on, she was distraught over a failed love affair. I think my dad took it harder, especially as the father of three girls (and me in the middle always going through some sort of crisis). She saw no other way, and had no hope that tomorrow could be better.

In college, my best friend learned of a relative’s suicide via telephone. We were on our way to a friend’s house for a weekend of fun with others. I told him I’d stay back with him if he felt it too difficult to attend the party, but we went. When I look at photographs from that weekend, I see a forced smile, eyes full of pain and sadness.

And yesterday I learned of another young person who took his life. I didn’t know him, but I do know one of the people affected by the tragedy of despair. She is left reeling and broken.


I used to consider suicide a hostile act. I don’t anymore. My heart hurts for the person so consumed and overwhelmed by despair that there’s no room left for hope. The permanent solution to a temporary problem.

15 thoughts on “When Despair Wins

  1. Working with volatile teenagers for most of my adult life, I was always sending them the message that even if they didn’t think so, it was going to get better. A few of my students died in accidents three attempted suicide and three killed other people. It’s a bit different with this age group as they are truly calling out for help. Today, however, it seems that more are successful in their self-destructive attempts and I don’t know if my assurances that “It will get better” would work as it seemed to back in the “old days’.


  2. A tragedy it is. 39 years ago my favorite uncle, John, committed suicide in jail after an arrest for DUI. Six months later his son, my 19 year old cousin Fred, hooked up a garden hose to his car in a remote area of Burrilville and ended his life. Two family tragedies that I never understood and that we never spoke about. Haven’t thought about those events in years. Remembering them both today.
    Thanks Martha.


  3. Hopelessness, sadness, loneliness, despair are tough. Suicide seems like a good option. I considered it in my twenties. Fortunately, someone helped me get to know God so that
    he could help me. That turned out better for myself and my family, thankfully.


  4. Thank you Martha,
    As always you write from the heart. I know of four friends who chose that and agree with you. Those of us left behind always question…ultimately we need, as the Priest Len Schreiber said at a Mass we had, “Acceptance without understanding”. Bless you for opening up the dialogue and showing compassion for those gentle souls…your Dad’s big heart lives on in you and your sisters.


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