‘What My Brother’s Suicide Taught Me About Why People Take Their Own Lives’

Why would Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, who had lives most of us only fantasize about, choose to end them?

Suicide may be listed as the cause of death, but stigma is often the killer.

(Ashley Womble, Women’s Health) Years ago, before my brother Jay took his own life, I might have asked myself the question that so many others are asking this week:

Why would Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, who have lives most of us only fantasize about, choose to end them?

But when Jay passed away at the age of 21, I learned that suicide isn’t merely a choice. It is often a fatal symptom of an untreated illness.

My brother Jay was diagnosed with schizophrenia not long after his 19th birthday. Up until his senior year of high school, he’d been a smart, funny kid who wanted to enter politics someday.

The symptoms of his illness—hallucinations, delusions, and paranoid thoughts—rapidly derailed his future.

By the time he graduated from high school, he believed that he was the target of a global conspiracy and heard voices that encouraged him to hurt himself.

He was hospitalized seven times, but at no point did he swallow a single pill that would ease his symptoms.

To him, accepting treatment would confirm that he was “crazy.”

There is only one reason I am alive today and my brother isn’t. I got treatment.

Watching my brother deteriorate woke the depression that had been inside of me.

After trying and failing to persuade him to get treatment, I was consumed with hatred for myself and couldn’t think of any reasons to stay alive.

As the pain I felt overpowered my rational mind, I, too, thought about how to kill myself. It wasn’t about choosing to live or die, it was about ending the pain of depression. Read more at Women’s Health.