Photo of yellow and white daisies with green stems in summer for My Forever Son: Chronicling Grief, Hope, and Healing After Losing My Son to Suicide. From Why Suicides Spike in Spring and Summer
Yellow and White Daisies, My Forever Son

Why Suicides Spike in Spring and Summer

Cusp of Summer Spike

There is a common belief that suicide occurs most often in the cold months, especially around Thanksgiving, Christmas and other winter holidays. This is actually a misconception, however, as suicide rates often increase during the spring and summer.

Centerstone, How Summer Affects Suicide Rates

The end of June through early July typically means shifting weather and at times, great thunderstorms and torrential downpours. Unpredictable weather. Perfectly wonderful, 65-70 degrees one day, 85 plus degrees the next, muggy and humid and sticky kind of prickly hot.

Derecho: A Storm Out of Nowhere

Summer, cusp of summer. I lost Dylan on June 25th 2012. Monday. 1:52 a.m. Only just having entered summer. The day of his funeral, it was 103 degrees at 11:00 a.m. Then the wind started heaving, the skies drew black, great gusts and howling winds downed trees all over central Ohio. By 3:00, the temperature had dropped to 71 degrees. Only later would I learn the storm was a Derecho. Derecho: A Storm Out of Nowhere. I’ve always thought God was grieving for Dylan, too, that nature wept as well.

June 29, 2012–Funeral for my son. 101 degrees dropping to 73 degrees in a matter of minutes. Whirling wind. Gusts of whipping wind. Snapping wind. Dark skies. Clotted clouds. Midday sun going away–suddenly. A piercing dark. A turbulent sky. Trying to get to the car before the rains came. Things blowing. Paper across parking lots. Light going out. Light extinguished. Darkness on the wings of violent winds. 60-80 m.p.h. Trees cracking. Branches breaking. Traffic lights swaying to and fro. As if in a dream I couldn’t break. A nightmare I’d have to live out the rest of my life.

June 29, 2012–My son’s funeral was on a day heaving itself pellmell, uprooting itself, shaking lose all grounding, breaking all that held it dear, all that called it life, all that depended upon it to be as it had always been.

A day rupturing earth in a storm violent and of epic proportion. Derecho. Unpredictable. Violent. Sudden. Never knowing we were in the path of such a storm. Having never seen let alone been through a storm capable of damaging this much to so many.

The noise of the wind. As if it were screaming. Over and over, rising and hissing, falling and rising, screaming and moaning, cracking and casting itself broken. Falling down. Tumbling down. The sudden downing of it all. Power down. Wires down. Caught in the catastrophic exhale of sky, earth, trees, and now, even light extinguished.

Derecho: A Storm Out of Nowhere

Heart heaving, this beating of tears
Breaking loose—
All hell in earth’s upturned rupture

Suicides Spike in Spring and Summer

Overwhelming evidence suggests that inflammation from various sources, including allergic reactions, can cause or worsen depression. Our immune system spends the winter trying to ward off viral infections, but not trying to ward off allergies, which affect more than 50 million Americans each year. Seasonal allergies in the spring put a large number of Americans at a higher risk for depression.

Adam Kaplin, Johns Hopkins psychiatrist, Suicide Rates Spike in Spring, Not Winter
Derecho: A Storm Out of Nowhere, My Forever Son

The Heaviness of Winter

If not summer, forever summer, then where am I? Suspended–time out of time. Numb? Shut down? Maybe just holding my breath. Dylan attempted suicide 5 times, 1 suicide attempt per month, January through May. Here, now, in the midst of our very real cold January freeze where it is 7 degrees, I feel the same. There is no sap running through my trunk. I’m dormant for winter, hollow, carved out, stark against the full on-front of winter’s attack.

There is no sap running through my trunk. I’m dormant for winter, hollow, carved out, stark against the full-on front of winter’s attack.

Beth Brown, My Forever Son
Art Sketch of a tree with downward dipping branches and dark and light shades representing sadness, loneliness, and empty arms of grief, My Forever Son, Summer, Forever Summer: When Suicide Rates Spike
Empty Arms After Losing My Son: Tree Sketch, My Forever Son

A Not-Quite-Anything Season

But I’m okay in this strange kind of not-quite-anything season. I’m okay because this is what it is. Because I cannot change this–the mammoth drudge of winter, the enormity of nature and earth and life cycles. This is what I must endure, come through, hunker down in, carve out a life in. This season now, this passing the through my own death-birth cycle.

Photo close-up of summer flowers in yellow for Why Suicides Spike in Spring and Summer, My Forever Son: Chronicling Grief, Hope, and Healing After Losing My Son to Suicide
Summer Flowers in Yellow, My Forever Son

Reconstructing A Self

I died in summer 2012 when Dylan died, and I am busy reconstructing a self hearty enough to endure and live out the rest of my “seasons” without my son. And so it is winter–and please God and oh no–don’t bring me through all those living nightmare of Dylan’s 5 suicide attempts, psych wards, medications, doctors, treatment centers, critical care units, ER rooms, breathing tubes, ad infinitum.

But in the end, what choice have I? None really, save to do what brings me a sensible calm and some semblance of peace and connection. I live right here, right now, just for this moment in time, in nature, in whatever season it is. Tonight it is the season of cold. I am headed out to meet a friend for tea.

Why Suicides Spike in Spring and Summer

I believe that those who may have spent the winter depressed find themselves, in the spring, still depressed, but with the energy and motivation to take their own life.

I also think spring is particularly tough for people who are depressed because after a largely solitary winter, those people emerge into a world full of rebirth, rejuvenation and revelry. In contrast, they feel dark and sad.

Adam Kaplin, Johns Hopkins psychiatrist, Suicide Rates Spike in Spring

Summer, Forever Summer

But summer? I have not yet reconciled summer. I dread even thinking about it, hold my breath when others mention it, still practice avoidance. I hate Summer. Summer took my son.

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Mr. Lincoln tea hybrid red rose in full bloom in June photographclose up

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