Franklin James Cook

Woman Grieving from Suicide, Cancer Works Phone Lines

In Grief, Hotlines on December 26, 2008 at 4:05 pm

ORIGINAL STORY — As part of a recent series of stories called “Living with Cancer,” the Maincihi Daily News (a Japanese newspaper translated into English on the Internet) tells of a woman who has been volunteering as a suicide prevention crisis line worker since two years after her husband was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

Masae, a no-nonsense woman of 71 [has] reasons for joining the center [that] are very personal, for she has direct experience of what suicide means to those who are left behind. In 1991, Masae’s 24-year-old son took his own life … Masae started volunteering at the Suicide Prevention Center … when she read about it in a newspaper and decided that she wanted to help. “I don’t want to see one more suicide,” she thought.

At first, when Masae picked up the phone and heard a young voice saying “I want to die,” she would sometimes come close to collapse. Her son had said the same thing, and it was like hearing his voice from beyond the grave. But she was determined to take the calls, and to hold on.

Now, after a time when she “had regretted her son’s suicide, believing that he’d died because of her,” Masae takes comfort from an expression for people on a Buddhist pilgrimage, “two traveling together”:

In some way, she always feels that her husband and her son are close by.

On the night of Nov. 30, just before the second anniversary of her husband’s death, Masae was at the Suicide Prevention Center phones. “Thank you,” she said at the end of a call. “I’m so glad I got the chance to talk to you.”

[The abridged URL for this post is  http://tinyurl.com/WorksPhone .]

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