The Newsletter of 
 
DIANA RAAB, Ph.D. 
 
September 2016


National Suicide Prevention Month

"Recovering from the suicide of a loved one, you need all the help you can get, so I  very much recommend a meditation program. The whole picture of how to recover from this has to do with body, mind, and spirit. That's applicable to any kind of depression."
~ Judy Collins
 
SEPTEMBER WRITING PROMPTS

  • Write down what you remember about a special moment during elementary school.
  • If you're a parent, write about how you felt when your child went off to school for the first time.
  • If you know someone who has committed suicide or someone who has attempted suicide, write a letter to him or her.

 
 
I never really thought about suicide until working on my first memoir, Regina's Closet which was about my grandmother, a World War I survivor who committed suicide when she was 61. That's when I began studying what might inspire an individual to take their own lives. In fact, that's how I connected with Thomas Steinbeck (see below) who blurbed this book. This is what he wrote, "There is an ancient adage which states that if people wish to see their own lives in perspective, they must first search for their reflections in the souls of their ancestors. Diana Raab's marvelous journal has liberated the voice of her remarkable grandmother with insight, compassion, and considerable skill. I applaud her courage as well as her literary talents." 
 
What I learned while writing the book is that the answers are complex, but most often a result of a battle with depression. My grandmother's depression was secondary to her being orphaned at the age of 11 during the perils of World War I. She took her life in 1964, at a time when suicide was a taboo subject. In fact, we never even knew she was depressed. Things are different today. People write and talk about their demons, and sometimes the end result is suicide. According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP), suicide is the tenth leading cause of death, and annually more than 42,000 people die in this way. The latest statistics show that more veterans die from suicide than from combat.
 
When Regina's Closet was released in 2007, I donated the book proceeds to AFSP, which is where I met my friend, Jina, who is the Communications Director at The Glendon  Association whose mission is to "save lives and enhance mental health by addressing the social problems of suicide, violence, child abuse, and troubled interpersonal relationships." Recently, I asked her to share some links for those contemplating suicide or those who are survivors of loved ones who have taken their lives. Here's what she shared:
 

READING SUGGESTION


National Suicide Month is a time to honor those we've lost through self-inflicted means, but it's also a good time to honor those who've had the courage to write about their own trials and tribulations.

In Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide, author Linda Gray Sexton has not only shared the experience of having a mother--esteemed poet Anne Sexton--who at the height of her literary career took her own life, but it's also about Linda, who battled similar demons. It's one thing to battle the demons, but it's another to have the bravery and creative talent to write about them. Linda took Hemingway's brilliant words to heart when he said, "There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." She truly got down to her emotional truth and authentically told her story from her heart, embracing every last detail.
 
As often happens with family members of suicide victims, when Linda turned 45, the age her mother was when she took her own life, she slipped into a deep depression followed by numerous suicide attempts herself. She found this was the only way to ease her pain. As she poetically says, "It's a way of letting the poison out...Taking control again" (p. 171). Linda wasn't proud of her suicide attempts; in fact, she was ashamed of them. However, she admits to having felt vulnerable and naked. "Suicide exposes you, shows the world what you really think about yourself and how weak your self-image is" (p. 209).
 
This books shares the writer's deep secrets about suicide, and how she and her loved ones navigated her own journey from slippage to recovery, and her determination to "break the cycle of self-destruction" upon which she'd been raised. She continues to pray that she's broken her genetic pull to suicide. This is a powerful and page-turning memoir that I was unable to easily put down.
MY RECENT PUBLISHED WORKS

  
" The Secrets of Wild Women" (blog). Psychology Today.
August 4, 2016. 
 
"Storm Paranoia," and "Water's Answers. (poems).
Bindweed Magazine.  August 5, 2016.
 
"Spiritual Practice During Difficult Times" (blog). Huffington Post. August 8, 2016. 
 
"Honoring My Father" (poem). The Drabble. August 9, 2016.
 
"What Death Teaches Us About Living" (blog). Psychology Today. August 21, 2016. 
 
SPECIAL EVENT
 
Anais Nin: A dance opera. Greenway Court Theater, 544 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA. August 27-September 18th. Opening Night sold out. Cindy Shapiro (composer/librettist) and Janet Roston (Director/Choreographer). Brilliantly creative performance depicting Nin's beautiful, sensual and analytical sensibilities while examining her complex relationships with her father, husbands and lovers, including Henry Miller.
Get tickets here:  http://www.anaisdanceopera.com/ 
 
IN MEMORIUM 
 
Thomas Steinbeck (August 2, 1944-August 11, 2016), my dear friend, and eldest son of novelist John Steinbeck passed away peacefully after a long battle with COPD. In addition to being an amazing writer, Thom, a Vietnam Vet, defended his father's work and adapted many of his books for movies. He and I spent many hours exchanging stories, working on his memoir, and sipping tequila at a favorite bar in Southern California. He will be missed, but never forgotten. Deep condolences to the love of his life, Gail Knight Steinbeck.
 
Please celebrate Thomas' life and make a donation to Artists Rights Coalition. 
 
 
Peace and love,
Diana 

P.S. Please send any comments to diana@dianaraab.com. 
(Subject: Newsletter) 

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