Night Falls Fast Undertanding Suicide By Kay Redfield Jamison

“Encompass’d with a thousand dangers,
Weary, faint, trembling with a thousand fleshy tomb, am
Buried above ground.”
-William Cowper

Suicide has long been interpreted, studied, and at many times ignored. The existence
of suicide and its whereabouts are not actually known. For the fact that no one knows
the first person who intentionally walked into a blizzard knowingly that they will not
return, or the first person who jumped off a cliff with intentions of not surviving. Nor
do we know the first person who had the sudden urge to commit harm to oneself. We
do not know this for the fact that the human mind is one piece of work and creation
that is still being misinterpreted today. These facts and many more are what Kay
Redfield Jamison, author of “Night Falls Fast, Understanding Suicide”, try’s to
convey and express to the reader. She directs her facts and studies towards teenagers
and young adults who seek the knowledge of why people do such harm to themselves.
Jamison expresses how the fact that what we do not know is what actually kills, also
how suicide is one of the most unpublicized deaths, and the varieties of mental illness
that plague the minds of so many to commit suicide
Jamison brings up the notion of how much we can determine
about a person through heredity. We can determine if mental illness exists, if there is
a history of impulsive and/or violent temperament and also the social class of a
person. As stated “ It should not be necessary, at the end of a century so rich in
literature, medicine, psychology and science, to draw arbitrary lines in the sand
between humanism and individual complexities”. We do know though, what can
drive a person to commit themselves to kill themselves to a certain extent. Such as
romantic failures, economic and/or job setbacks, trouble with law or authority, illness,
a situation that may seem to humiliate one, and so on. But the true meaning of why a
person takes their life is only known to that person. As much history is known and as
much of the personality of the person that is found out, the person dies leaving behind
many who suffer throughout life not knowing why, and that is why what we do not
know is what actually kills.
Murder, homicide, shoot outs, drugs, and accidents all contribute
to the world wide effects of News. Suicide though, is rarely publicized for the fact
that it is the most awful way to bring a person to death, or so that is how many believe
because of the many stereotypes that they have grown up with. As far back as the
1800’s people have treated suicide as a “disease”. They would try to keep it away and
if one is affected by it then they are taken care of with much precaution. Religion
basically enforced this. Strong religious and legal sanctions against suicide are
scarcely surprising. It would be strange of course if society as a whole had no reaction
to such a dramatic, frequently violent, and potentially infectious form of death. For
example, the Europeans were known to bury suicide victims at night, and by
crossroads and these victims were not given ordinary/proper burial services, also, for
the fact that they thought the heavy traffic would keep the soul of the deceit from
haunting others. They also would tie weights to the body and throw them into the
ocean because they believed the soul couldn’t swim. The argument over suicide has
long been argued by philosophers against any kind of social or religious acceptance of
suicide. The public even considers suicide to be due to weakness or sin, rather than
unbalanced minds. This is why suicide is so unpublicized, because the public cannot
recognize nor understand the minds of the helpless.
Kay R. Jamison explains that the mind of a suicidal is extremely
complex. Most contain mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, psychosis, depression,
manic depression, or personality disorders, anxiety disorders, and medical illness.
Depression is rated to be the highest cause of suicides today followed by those who
have substance abuse problems. It has long been discussed if suicide has a genetic
connection. Many times those who commit suicide have had a family history of
suicides. Rarely but strangely there have been few families that have been completely
destroyed and brought to death through suicide. But there still continues to be
research on this. There also seems to be a “significant increase in life events prior to
the onset