When your area of expertise is suicide prevention, it’s actually not all that fun to have the topic of dinner party conversation be your area of expertise.
That was most certainly the case last weekend, following the death by suicide of Jacintha Saldhana, the nurse who transferred the now-famous prank call to Kate Middleton’s nurse during the princess’s recent hospitalization.
I’ve struggled over the past several days thinking about how to write about yet another celebrity-related suicide. In both this case and the case of Jovan Belcher, I have found myself thinking how little we, the public, know about the inner lives of either of these individuals. Yet because of their high-profile deaths, their names slip off our tongues as if we were much, much closer.
Collectively, we speculate on what caused these deaths. When we’re being particularly good, we ask ourselves if anything could have been done to prevent them.
But, I wonder what would happen if we didn’t know about them?
I tend to think that it’s a good thing for the suicide prevention movement to have suicide in the news, as it offers an opportunity for public discourse on a subject that’s often kept hush-hush. But as I’ve watched and listened over the past couple of weeks, while, yes, part of the conversation is about prevention, there’s something very uncomfortable about the voyeuristic nature of what’s being said.