Three Ways of Confronting Suicide

Since 2010, photographer Dese’Rae Stage has taken snapshots of Americans to highlight an issue that most choose to ignore.

Dese'Rae Stage“You hear that word suicide and you think, ‘I don’t want to go there’ but this project is not about death. This project is about life. My work is about life.” Ms. Stage has chosen to tell the stories of suicide survivors through her photos and words. All the people in Ms. Stage’s exhibit — almost 200 of them — survived at least one suicide attempt. They agreed to let Stage use their names, tell their stories, and take a portrait for a project called Live Through This.

“When I woke up after I was in a coma for three days, I realized that ‘OK, God, the universe, did not see fit for me to, leave here like I wanted to,'” said Nancy Nettles, 50, who tried to overdose with pills.

Ms. Stage feels her project gives people permission to talk about a topic which I have found to be mostly taboo in our world today. As controversy swirls around videos like “13 Reasons Why” available on Netflix, and opioid deaths continue to rise, do we choose to confront this issue publicly, or pretend that if we ignore it, it will certainly go away?

opioid deaths in 2015

“Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015.”   One of my cousins died of a heroin overdose a few years ago, and last week I heard of two other suicides from individuals I had just met. How long can we ignore this national crisis?

Do we simply not care about Americans who choose to kill themselves? I believe the first step is for all of us who have ever considered suicide to fess up. If everyone of us who have ever felt that miserable and desperate for our lives to get better, would say so, suicide could become a topic to be discussed and awareness would improve dramatically.

I considered suicide a few times, and I am so glad I didn’t do it. I had no idea what I would have missed in this wild experience called life. Suicide is such a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It may seem like the easy way out, but you will miss so much if you are tempted by this ‘easy’ solution.

Laura and Rasta Feb 2013 focusedLooking back over 62 years of life, I would have missed finally finding love at age 49 with the best person I have ever met, and the amazing experience of relating totally to one other human being with no disappointments. I would have missed finally finding ‘home’ in a new part of Colorado with breath-taking views, surrounded by the beauty and silence of nature. I would have missed finally attaining my dream of writing professionally and publishing my own books. I would have missed enjoying my parents in their elder years. In short, I would have missed out on most of my amazing life.

What a waste that would have been. Life is a continuous unfolding… Anything can happen!