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Talking About The Untalkable

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We’re losing people. And no one wants to talk about it.

We understand the hesitancy. A family member, someone you know, opts to take their own life – leaving family and friends behind to fill in the gaps, handle the grief.

It has been happening a lot lately. People ask why nothing is being said. We put out what we can when we can, mindful of the fact that personal privacy is important to maintain, but our readers live here and see things and they’re asking questions, especially when the chosen venue is a public space – a park, walking trail, a parking lot.

More than once this week we’ve been asked: “What is happening and why is this being swept under the rug?”

We’re loathe to try and explain the “why” because there are so many possible factors, though much of the anecdotal information we get after the fact hints at financial or legal problems, marital woes, an illness.

In most cases the reasons leave with the person choosing to opt out, leaving the living world behind. Sometimes there is a note, an explanation. Often – there is not.

“I feel like it’s always so hidden here when a kid ODs or anyone commits suicide – young or old,” one reader wrote. “I think our community could learn and improve itself from the stressors…but instead everyone just hides it to maintain the lamorinda (sic) image.”

Perhaps. There is a tendency to underreport certain aspects of life in our respective valleys and dales. We happen to believe that a person choosing to end things privately, in their own home or on their property, deserves that final privacy along with our condolences. That’s all we can do.

We would hope that at least a cursory explanation would be offered by official agencies whenever a suicide occurs in a public space, with dozens – if not more citizens – aware of and questioning the circumstances.

In our belief that the public has a right to know basic information about public incidents we will continue to release what we can when we can, with the understanding that we will always try to keep the families of the deceased in mind when doing so.


  1. I lost my son to suicide. It’s not like I hide why it happened. I just don’t know why. I knew he had been suffering from a mental illness, but nobody knew what exactly caused his brain to function as it did. I tried to help him but it wasn’t successful. What parents and professionals can do is limited. It’s ultimately his choice. In my opinion, the experts just know how to properly label brain conditions and some ways of reducing the risk, but there is no cure. I can only tell how he committed suicide but I don’t know why. It remains a mystery.

  2. Yes, this is tragic! In my job in Oakland, I run into people everyday who’ve given up on life. I think society has become very negative and hopeless..and also rude & uncaring dispite the flowering words that are said. I think people are too much into their own selves, and their computers now. I’ve said for some time now the people really are not that happy despite what they tell you.. I really think we need to get back to our basic belief systems of the 1950’s..
    I can hear the ‘eeks’ coming out of your mouths right now, but people felt better about themselves their lives, their futures and the world. They trusted in a good God, instead of trying to eliminate God

    • I’ll pass on all the bigotry that came with the 50s. But it’s pretty clear why some folks want to bring it back.

  3. Speaking as a person with Stage 4 Esophageal cancer, I can tell you that I have made plans. Of course with my doctor and using the law California has provided. Why put myself, family and friends through that last six months of suffering when it happens. Try listening to the lyrics of the theme song to the movie/TV show MASH. Even for some with severe mental illness it might be the gentle way to go, we all have to go some day. Oh, chemo and Keytruda are doing well for me, the doctor says he has no clue as to “when” will be.

    Firestone 11R

    • Jeff, just want to say I hope whatever treatment you are receiving is successful… But you have my respect for making the best decisions for you end of life plan, whenever that may be. Take care.

    • I sincerely hope that the law, medicine, and common sense provide you with what you need to navigate this unknown journey. It is, after all, a journey shared by us all.

  4. Our media and especially social media are saturated with messages that depress us. Promoting anger, resentment, and hopelessness is profitable. Political actors are the most guilty.

    People no longer go to church for a weekly dose of togetherness and hope. High potency drugs, even legal ones, are a counterproductive substitute.

    People have fewer family members and friends in their lives. Pandemic lockdowns created more loneliness than ever before. The Internet does not replace personal contact.

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