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Letter: Empathy is essential to combating suicide

Empathy is essential to combating suicide

I wonder if you have ever contemplated the pain an addict or a victim of mental illness must be suffering to be driven to take his or her own life. Probably not, since this would require deep and painful reflection, a depth many of you fear to travel.

Many of you believe, with all your wisdom, that he who takes his own life is a coward bereft of character or just selfish.

Because you cannot grasp the nature of mental illness, it is often easier to pass judgment without contemplation of what lies beneath. I can only shake my head when I hear someone say “… but he had it all …” If only you understood the ignorance of that statement.

The greatest human trait is empathy. If you can only know what a difference it would make to be empathetic with someone who is suffering in a darkness that is all-consuming. Not all choose to be in the darkness, yet we cast them out of society, left to fend for themselves.

You can choose to make a difference, possibly save a life, by holding a hand, shedding a tear and saying, “I’m here to listen and truly hear you.” Dive into the depths of your own mind and find your empathy. It’s there, and it’s waiting to be shared with someone.

Walk, with me, Out of the Darkness on Sept. 9 in Delaware Park. Help remove the barriers to discussion on this scourge by opening your mind and removing the preconceived notions therein.

Tim Malek


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