Vice President Joseph Biden, while speaking at the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors’ (TAPS) 18th annual survivor seminar to commemorate Memorial Day 2012, deviated from his prepared remarks to share his thoughts on the issue of suicide. He told the families of fallen soldiers he was so distraught following an automobile accident in 1972 that claimed the lives of his first wife and daughter, that he himself had entertained thoughts of suicide.
Many of us in the Disability Community struggle from time to time with the issue of suicide. From my own personal experience, even though it’s been over 13 years since I was injured, it still comes to mind at times when I am struggling with depression and extreme frustration. Life with a disability can frequently seem overwhelming. This is especially true at the onset. Often suicide presents itself as a solution to all the problems one faces. Vice President Biden said: “For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide. Not because they were deranged, not because they were nuts, because they had been to the top of the mountain, and they just knew in their heart they would never get there again.”
For many of us our disabilities will prevent us from ever returning to the top of the mountain, and we know it, but in time, I believe, most of us come to accept that and move on accordingly. It is being at the bottom of the mountain or starting to climb up for the first time when suicide is thought of as an option. Many of the individuals with disabilities to whom I have spoken admit they have struggled with these feelings. So, it is worthy of taking note that if you have thoughts of suicide from time to time, you certainly are not alone. For a while, I contributed blogs to a website for the disabled that refused to publish anything I submitted on suicide or severe depression. In my mind they were omitting an important subject from discussion. What message were they conveying to their readers? That life is always good? Or that one should never get depressed, and if you have thoughts of suicide there is something wrong with you? What a disservice and loss of opportunity to truly connect with individuals with disabilities.
The psychologist at Craig Rehabilitation Hospital once told me that being depressed and feeling sorry for yourself was an okay place to visit but not a place to set up permanent residence. As Vice President Biden said in the conclusion of his remarks “Folks, it can and will get better…” and most of us know that. We may have to remind ourselves of that or have somebody remind us of it, but we know it is true. We may never get to the top of the mountain again, but that does not mean we must stay at the bottom; rather it means we must continually climb.
Take note that the two “Hs” in the Handihelp logo form a ladder, to help you start your climb.

Dave Morrell


Quotes are taken from:\

4 responses to “Climbing

  1. Rich,
    That’s a really deep one for first thing on a Monday morning – but it sets the tone for my week. I’ve got a busy one and I’m sitting here wondering how I’m going to get it all done. This reminds me that there’s a much bigger picture out there.
    My aim is to play my part in being the voice that reminds people there are other opportunities, other chances and that another day can make all the difference.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Deborah Gregson

    Rich, your blog comes at an interesting time for me. I’m a week and half out after total replacement hip surgery. It was worn out from years of good service and, now we know, a birth defect that meant it wasn’t shaped quite right for it’s job in the first place. I’d had some off and on serious hip pain before the surgery, and I have chronic moderate pain due to Fibromyalgia and Interstitial Cystitis, with Migraines thrown in. I knew this surgery was going to be needed for about a year now, but hoped I could put it off longer. I’ve had knee and shoulder repair, a finger with bone infection that required surgery, all of which happened in the early spring over the last few years and used up months of time recovering dealing with rehab and pain. I’ve helped with caring for both my mother in law who passed away four years ago from Alzheimer’s after 7+ years, and my Mom who lives 3000 miles away and had a spinal cord injury leaving her a quad in 2002. In each case I felt very limited in the care I could give because of my chronic medical issues, and even more frustrated by the surgeries that were needed.

    This hip thing, as well as some ongoing personal issues, has really dumped me into a deep, dark well. I don’t have the thought of suicide, but deep sadness, and I’m so totally tired of starting the climb over and over again. I don’t care if I’m not at the top of the mountain, heck, I don’t even care that I never even got to the top in the first place. But I do care that every time I seem to make it part way up I keep getting pushed back down to the bottom, and have a pile of rocks dumped on top of me. I greatly appreciate that along the way there are incredibly generous people who stretch out their hands to help pull me up, that offer encouragement, that give me shelter, that walk along beside me. I’m just so damned tired of being shoved back down and having to climb back up. I don’t see the point of the climb anymore, why not just stay at the bottom? I’m tired of the energy it takes. I’m tired of the emotion it requires. I’m tired of the disappointment it brings. I’m tired of the loneliness it often results in. I’m tired of the exhaustion. I’m no longer hopeful that things will get better, because they never do, they’re just different. I’m tired of being the positive one, the motivated person, the problem solver, the one who finds solutions, the person who thinks when others are flying apart with reaction. I’m tired of being the grown up, the one who takes care of everything.

    I’m such a selfish baby. I’ll walk again. I’ll improve physically and here I am on Rich’s Blog doing a pity party about depression to people who won’t walk. But you are right Rich, we should all talk about depression, and about the thoughts of suicide that fleet in and out. We should all be honest sometimes and let the deep thoughts out of their hidden places so that others know that they don’t think those thoughts only, alone. Different people have overwhelming sadness, depression, for different reasons, but the feelings which are deep, dark, crushing, painful, hopeless are the same. And if we don’t share that we have those feelings and thoughts, it’s even more dangerous and less likely that we’ll hold on, wait, for that person to stretch out their hand, encourage you to take a step from the bottom of the mountain and begin the climb once again. “…tomorrow is another day.”

    • Deborah, I really don’t know what to say to you. I know at times things can seem overwhelming, I’ve been there more than once! But I also am very aware of the strenght and resilience that exisis in the humanspirit. When I speak to groups I am always trying to help people to understand the strenght that lies within them. I talk about John McCain, Lance Armstrong, Bob Woodruff (ABC News Anchor), Michael J Fox, J. R. Martinez and Jaycee Dugard who all rose over overwhelming odds to triumph over their challenges and then I ask if these people received anything special at birth that we did not. You must find that strength in yourself. Easy to say but difficult at times to do but I know you can. Thinking of you and your struggles,Rich

      Rich from Handihelp

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