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In light of the recent and tragic death of Hip Hop Mogul Chris Lighty (age 44), who was reportedly found in his backyard with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound on August 30th as well as Don Cornelius earlier this year, it is becoming clear that suicide among the Black community is on the increase.
Who is to blame in the case of a suicide?
While many media outlets are honing in on an argument that took place between Lighty and his ex-wife shortly before he was found, there is usually always more than one factor or incident that provokes suicide. While it is very possible an isolated trigger could make or break a person’s decision to act on suicidal thoughts, it goes much deeper than one could imagine.
Our daily stressors such as living environments, financial conditions, family issues, intimate relationships and work related pressures can be contributing factors along with insufficient support systems and positive outlets. As a Certified Thanatologist, one who studies death and dying and how we cope with loss, it is my personal and professional opinion that the last two factors are the most critical, because if these two are taken care of the above stressors can be quite manageable. These two dynamics could quite frankly prevent a suicide or stress build up on many levels.
Some choose suicide as a route, because they have all together lost hope and/or believe they have run out of other options. However, your support system – whether it’s a girlfriend taking you out for a day at the salon and spa and to lend a non-judgmental ear; or a positive outlet such as a game of street ball to blow off steam – can make what once appeared as a “no way out” situation to an “all I needed was a moment to breath and cool off”.
Sometimes we have to temporarily remove ourselves from the constant pressure and stress we encounter on a continuous basis and do something different and enjoyable so that we can return with a new and refreshed approach. Yet, this habit to vacate must be exactly that, a habit and a part of our regular routine. We must not allow a build up to take place. The result could take on a more extreme “remedy” such as substance abuse or other forms of reckless behavior. Becoming aware of our burnout or boiling points and knowing when it’s time to step back for a moment will definitely lend a positive hand in managing life.
MaryJ. Blidge tweeted in response to the death of Chris Lighty with what I believe to be very powerful words, “U never know what can send a person over the edge or make them want 2 keep living. Take it easy on people. We are so fragile.”
To me she opened up an avenue of the responsibility we have to be better individuals in how we handle any and everyone we come into contact with. We don’t realize how much of an impact we can make on someone else. We must be mindful of how we handle others. We don’t know what a person is experiencing or has experienced the moment we encounter them. Our words and our behavior can be constructive or destructive.
This perspective forces us to choose our words wisely. Find something positive to share. Offer someone a compliment every opportunity you get. Challenge yourself to bring a smile to each person you meet with so they leave your presence on a higher note than they did when they first crossed your path. If all you do is smile at someone, understand that the neurotransmitters in the brain automatically mirror facial expressions; therefore, whenever you smile at someone they will smile right back.
Let us view the loss of Chris Lighty and others as a wake-up call to examine, analyze and correct how we handle ourselves and how we treat others. May God be pleased with our brother and may He grant his family with peace, support and love.
Salaam & Blessings,
Ebony S. Muhammad
Publisher of Hurt2Healing Magazine