In August 2017 I wrote a blog piece for Women Against Registry titled “No More Suicides, Please”. Almost 3 years later I’m still receiving notices of comments on that piece, notices that have prompted me to touch on this subject again.
Knowing what we know about the way some registrants and their families have been treated, it’s no wonder some registrants, and even their family members, have considered suicide as their only option, the only way out of “life on the registry.”
My previous blog was not written during a pandemic, but even then, life for many registrants was a “walk along the edge.” Registrants can’t find jobs, they can’t find housing, there’s no money to pay all the fees that are heaped upon them. For some, thoughts of suicide snuck up on them quickly once they were released from prison, life on the registry terrified them and their options seemed few. For others, the longer they were out, the more difficult life seemed, spinning their wheels, looking at what appeared to be a bleak future, didn’t seem like a life worth living.
Today, registrants are still dealing with all those same issues, plus more. In a world where everything is shut down, registrants are still required to meet with registry officials, law enforcement and treatment counselors and I haven’t heard anything about “fees” being forgiven despite the fact that everyone is out of work. Registrants in many places are still being required to register in person, required to attend treatment in group settings, taking polygraphs and still having to allow their P.O.’s and whatever potential germs they’ve been in contact with, into their homes, putting registrants and their families at risk.
At a time when we’re supposed to care about each other’s health, it seems no one cares about the health of registrants and that may make registrants feel helpless to protect themselves and their families.
The stress of life on the registry compounded by the uncertainty of a pandemic may be enough to push some registrants ever further towards the edge, an edge they often can’t find their way back from.
“They’d be better off without me” is a phrase I’ve heard too many times from those considering suicide, when referring to their families.
After a long mental health career let me just say for the record, for those who are thinking that suicide is the answer to your family’s problems, I’ve never had a family member say they were better off now that the person who committed suicide was gone. Never. Ever.
No matter how much stress and strain those families went through with the person, all I ever heard was “I’d give anything to have just one more day with them.”
I don’t want to minimize the fear, desperation, anger, frustration, emotional and physical pain registrants have to endure. Those of us that are “registrant adjacent” can only imagine what you deal with on a daily basis. We know your issues but we don’t walk in your shoes, we can’t ever fully understand the depths of your pain.
But we are here for you.
Because today is a difficult struggle, doesn’t mean that tomorrow can’t be better and if not tomorrow, then maybe the next day or the next. If you’re not here, you’ll never known what might have been, what you may have missed out on, what possibilities your life could have had.
If you’re feeling more stressed than usual during this world crisis, scared of dark thoughts you’re having, then reach out and talk with someone. There are counselors, doctors, pastors, family and friends. Call a hotline, a support group, call 911, get to a mental health center.
There are people that want to help.
None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, but if you don’t stick around, you’ll never know what good things may have happened. Choose to live, we’ll get through this together.
Take care of yourselves and those around you.