Today’s sunny bright crochet mandala comes from Monika Holzschuh in Kingston, Canada. She shares,
“We have two children, and I just recently came back to crochet after teaching our youngest, my daughter – and now I am hooked!”
“I never met Wink on her blog, but I came across the Mandalas for Marinke project “accidentally”, while doing a search for a flower pattern. I was very touched by the testimonials on the benefits of crocheting. It is wonderful that Wink found encouragement and joy that kept her here on this earth for awhile longer, and it is so sad, of course, that she succumbed to her depression in the end.”
“I lost a much loved aunt, my mom’s sister, to suicide, when I was 16. I still miss her, 35 years later. I am saddened by the prevalence of depression in our societies. So, to everyone who is struggling, in memory of my aunt Trudi and in memory of Wink, here is my mandala.
I used Wink’s crochet pattern, with “cheery sunshine-y highlights”, as she put it. May it bring light and joy, especially to Wink’s family: She shines on!
Monika has used phrasing in her message that I have used also – succumbing to depression, losing someone to suicide. I wanted to make a note of this because I’ve been careful in this project not to say that Wink “committed suicide” and to avoid using phrasing like that all together except where quoting other people. I’ve never highlighted why so I thought today was a good day for that.
The language that we use to describe things is powerful. The stories that we tell ourself not only reflect the experiences we have but also help to further shape those experiences. (That’s why I am interested in the power of narrative therapy for depression.) And the language that we use reflects our beliefs, even when we don’t realize it.
If you look up the word “commit” in the dictionary, you’ll find a definition along the lines of “carry out or perpetrate” and often an association with something negative (committing a crime, committing a sin). We say that someone “commits suicide”, often without thinking about the term, because it’s a phrase that everyone uses, but this implies that the person perpetrated a crime, which further implies a conscious decision. Suicide may be a choice but it’s usually made as last resort in the midst of pain when it feels like there are no other options, so it doesn’t feel like a choice, even though it may be one. Saying that someone committed this act can be blaming, so I find value in changing the language around the topic to facilitate reducing stigma.
I opt to something like “succumbed to suicide” because that feels true for me. It feels like getting pulled under and having it happen. I also feel okay about saying “died by suicide”. Some people feel comfortable saying “killed himself”. Sydney Smith has a good article about guidelines for reporting on suicide. Robert Olson has more information about selective language.