First in an occasional series we’re calling “Suicide: A Crisis In The Shadows“
BOSTON — More than two years after her son’s suicide, Susan LaCaire, of Spencer, still has a hard time opening up about it with those outside her closest circle.
“I always say we lost Luke. I never tell people how we lost Luke, unless they ask me,” LaCaire explains. “There is a stigma, and I think a lot of people look at Luke’s death as senseless. He could have lived and he chose not to.”
But the LaCaires are on a mission to bring suicide out of the shadows.
“I don’t hold back anymore. My brother died by suicide. My brother struggled,” says Justine Barnes, Luke’s sister.
“People don’t know what to say to us. They don’t know how to console us. If I told them that he had a heart attack, they’d be like, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry, that must have been so sudden.’ If you tell somebody that [your loved one] died of suicide, that wall goes up, and they don’t know how to deal with you. And then unfortunately for those of us left, that leaves you feeling even worse.”
“I don’t hold back anymore. My brother died by suicide. My brother struggled.”
Barnes says she wishes her brother Luke, who was 35 when he died, also could have had an easier time talking with those around him about his life struggles and mental health issues. Luke was going through marital problems, and his young daughter had brain cancer. And, his sister says, when he tried to open up, some friends would tell him to toughen up.
“When my brother died, people had the nerve to come to say to me what a coward he was,” Barnes recalls. “My brother was a firefighter. My brother went to Afghanistan. My brother fought for his country. He goes into burning buildings to save people’s lives, and he’s a coward? My brother had a weak moment with a lifetime of depression.” Continue reading