The following is an excerpt from Questions Asked by Teens About Suicide & Ideas for Appropriate Responses:
What is an appropriate memorial to a suicide victim?
“The most appropriate memorial is a living one such as contributions to support suicide prevention. The American Association of Suicidology cautions that permanent markers or memorials such as plaques or trees planted in memory of the deceased dramatize and glorify their actions. Special pages in yearbooks or or school activities dedicated to the suicide victim are also not recommended.”
I completely understand the concern here. Anyone who is vulnerable may take their life, too. It’s called “copy cat suicide”.
Yet, I think it’s important to allow people to grieve in a way that helps. Especially teenagers. They are still here and the memory of their friend or classmate will be with them forever.
Additionally, the family of the one who took their life is already suffering. To take this approach isolates the family and they suffer more.
I know suicide is a very, very difficult situation. Everyone is hurting.
I also know allowing people to grieve through remembering the one who died is important.
We try to control what we don’t understand. Sometimes, we make it worse.
Which is the lesser of two evils: another suicide or the remaining loved ones feeling isolated and shunned? Does one person have more value than the other?
I see nothing wrong with a yearbook page or plaque. It’s a simple gesture to remember a valuable life. Without allowing something tangible to remember, it makes that life unimportant.
People who took their life were either hurting and unable to see beyond the moment and/or there was a physical imbalance creating mental illness.
How can we not have compassion for that? It is not compassionate to try and sweep it under the rug. And that is what it is when you deny someone the ability to create a memorial.