National Suicide Prevention Week, September 11th, and A Fleeting Animal

This week, September 6-12, is National Suicide Prevention Week. Yesterday was Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day. This is the time. Get educated. Learn the warning signs. Be aware of the risk factors. Suicide affects so many people in this country, and it is so preventable. Now is the time to help someone, or to get help yourself. None of us are alone in this world, even when it feels that way. Let’s make sure every single person knows that.

I understand dark thoughts. The world can be a dark place. 14 years ago today we experienced a collective tragedy that, for some, was intensely personal. For the rest of us, who weren’t in NY or DC or didn’t lose a loved one, it was heartbreaking, maddening, and filled us with sadness and rage on a national level. Those events led us down an even darker path to a misguided war, ongoing military actions, and countless Americans affected by further tragedy. Troops lost lives, limbs, friends, and perhaps much of their peace of mind. Suicide affects our combat veterans at a far greater level than the average American.

A study was released in 2013 suggesting that we are losing 22 veterans a day to suicide, and some argue that the number is actually much higher, while others claim that it must be a bit lower. Either way, what is agreed upon is that suicide is a bigger problem for our military than for the rest of us. The horrors of war can wreak havoc on a psyche.

Tonight, I will be exploring these topics in a new opera by Eric Nielsen and David Budbill called “A Fleeting Animal.” In it, I play a Vietnam veteran who comes home to a world that he no longer feels he has a place in. By the end of the show, my character has taken his own life, and the community is left to grieve and wonder. We couldn’t be opening the show on a more timely day. If you can make it to one of our six performances, I would encourage you to attend. We’ve invited a lot of veterans to come, and are holding discussions after each performance. It will be worth your time.

If you can’t make the show, please take some time today to learn about suicide prevention, and perhaps to reflect on what violence and war can do to a people. All around the world people are experiencing upheaval and unrest, and we can empathize with them a little when we think back to what some of us went through 14 years ago today. Never forget. Never forget how it feels to be hated and hunted. Never forget how it feels to help someone in need. And never forget that what happened to us is still happening to others, and that they still need us.

Photo Credit: Isabel Weinger Nielsen

Posted in 9/11, Music, Opera, Suicide.

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