Friday, November 18th, 2011 – 7:30pm
A daughter’s candid telling of suicide’s aftermath
Olsen says she received no help following her father’s suicide beyond hearing about gradually enduring the five stages of grief. Suicide is far more complicated than that, she said. “You have added guilt, shame, embarrassment, misunderstanding from the community, religious aspects, financial aspects…. When you pile all of that on top of just your regular grief, it makes it very, very difficult without any kind of guidance at all,” she said in advance of her appearance at the forum.
Olsen said suicide kills about as many people in the United States each year as breast cancer, with many suicides going unreported, and while cancer rightfully gets a lot of attention, a fraction is spent on suicide and mental illness. “There seems to be still this strange taboo on the subject, she said. “My hope is to blow it up, get it out there and get people to start talking about it.”
Organizations like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention did not exist in 1980, and it was not until 17 years after her father’s death that Olsen went to her first suicide support group.“Within the very first minute of being in that group, with people who truly understood what it felt like to lose someone to this, was life changing for me,” Olsen said. “I was asked questions that I couldn’t even have imagined.” (Interview by TOM BRONZINI)