here once again we find ourselves at that somber and quietly mournful time of the year in which we remember more deeply and frighteningly what exactly happened 15 years ago in 2001. I’ve struggled all morning with how best to honor the fallen on a day that seems so far from honorable and so deeply disturbing. I’ve seen blog posts, Facebook statuses, and moving tributes. I’ve heard pastors, speakers, and politicians address their followings. but it all falls short.
you see, there’s a photograph of the trauma that ensued that day that has haunted me since the moment I saw it as a child.
because somehow we’ve neglected the fact that the 2016 anniversary of 9/11 has fallen at the end of National Suicide Prevention Week, and I haven’t heard the acknowledgment of over 200 souls who jumped from the towers 15 years ago mentioned more than once in one single Facebook article.
we’ve neglected the fact that suicide is still so surrounded by stigma that we have caused families to be ashamed to grieve their dead, and piled further grief and emotional torture on top of the most agonizing and intimately traumatic experience of their lives.
we’ve neglected the fact that suicide is still so surrounded by stigma that reporters on the day of the attack (and since then) were literally in denial that these people even existed, claiming that no one jumped, and they all simply fell out of the building… despite evidence to suggest otherwise.
we’ve neglected the fact that suicide is still so surrounded by stigma that with the exception of one woman, these 200 jumpers have never been identified publicly and are yearly excluded from our remembrance.
we’ve neglected the fact that suicide is still so surrounded by stigma that even in the face of terrorism this stigmatizing pattern has tried to force us to choose between judging our own dead or living in denial that they were ever there at all.
we’ve neglected the fact that suicide is still so surrounded by stigma that we can feel okay about ignoring and dis-honoring over 200 souls, 200 bright Image-bearers, snuffed out by acts of sickening violence, and why? …because it makes us uncomfortable.
this has to stop. this has to end.
when your discomfort begins to rob others of their basic human need to grieve and heal, and begins to blind others to the realities of the world, it has gone too far. when that happens, you have crossed ground that is not yours to trespass on. you have taken that which is not yours to take. and you’ve made it so that you can feel okay about it all.
I am sure the amount of silent sufferers regarding this “taboo topic” is countless. I am sure it will take a long while of lived-out apology to make the world a safe enough place for them to bare their hearts and stories… but can we start now?
can we begin NOW to stop abandoning the struggling, stop throwing stones at the fallen, stop shooting our wounded? can we start this year, on this anniversary, to begin the practice of opening our arms to the ones who have been afraid to grieve, to the ones who silently battle the pain of this suicide monster every day? to the ones who are so alienated and so stigmatized they are in danger of becoming one more number, one more lost soul, one more jumper?
it’s beyond time for this to change.
**photo from Wikipedia**