I KNEW CYNTHIA
Mental Health and Suicide Resources
* 24-hour crisis line: 206-461-3222 or 866-4CRISIS
Operated by the Crisis Clinic and funded by King County, this is where to call if you or anyone you know is suicidal.
* Teen Link Help Line: 206-461-4922 or 866-TEENLINK
Agencies and Information
* King County Division of Mental Health Client services: 800-790-8049
* National Institute of Mental Health www.nimh.nih.gov
* National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
-Greater Seattle: 800-782-9264
* Youth Suicide Prevention Program
My thanks for Philip Dawdy's "One Suicide Too Many" [Jan. 14]. I knew Cynthia Doyon about as well as anyone did, which was not very well, for something like 18 years. I have felt a need to write something about her for the past five months, but I didn't know who to write it to. Or for. Or why.
I have worked on fund-raisers at KUOW during almost every Saturday-evening pledge driveSaturdays, so I could chat with Cynthia and let her know how much I appreciated the work she was doing to keep the memory and history of American popular music alive for yet another generation. I even "pitched" with her on-air on a couple of occasions, which was truly a thrill.
Much like Cynthia, I have spent a lot of time dreaming about living in an era known to my parents and grandparents, but not to myself. I tried to imagine how it felt to club-hop in the '20s, survive the Depression of the '30s, and live in a "united" United States, when most of its citizens were going in the same direction and with the same goals, during the war years of the '40s. Cynthia was a history major. I know she longed for the era she never lived in, and I think she had a hard time living in the era she was dealt. On the one and only vacation I ever knew her to take, she visited the grand ballrooms, dance halls, and casinos made famous during the swing era; such was her love of the past. Fortunately I have friends and family enough to keep me tethered to the present. I don't want to live in the past anymore, I just want to visit it.
I knew the moment I heard she was gone that she must have taken her own life. Over 18 years, it became apparent to me that Cynthia was, well, fragile. I knew that during certain past administrations at the radio station, she felt unappreciated, underutilized, and underrewarded. But I also came to realize that while no one works in a perfect world, she probably did not do all she could have to promote her own agenda and make her own dreams come true. Or maybe she did do all she was capable of doing, but it wasn't enough.
Even though we were not close friends or relatives, I wondered if there was anything I could have done that could have altered the outcome. There is always that fine line between supporting or meddling, helping or alienating. I hope that readers will take lessons from Dawdy's article and take just a little more of a chance at getting involved in the lives of friends and loved ones when they are in need, and hopefully they'll have a better "end of the story" than Cynthia Doyon did.
I attempted suicide three times in 1981 and ended up in the UW psychiatric ward for a month. For years, I hoped I would have a breakthrough therapy session that would help me return to normal, or that a drug would come along to return me to my pre-depression state. It never happened. I eventually realized that depression would never go away and that I would have to battle the disease every day the best I could.
I am grateful to Philip Dawdy for openly discussing his struggle with mental illness, and am saddened to learn that Cynthia Doyon lost hers. Isolation is very common among depressed people. You don't want anyone to help you, don't want to reach out to anyone. Friends and family members are cut off and are unable to recognize the symptoms or seriousness of the illness.
Mental illness is complex and insidious. There isn't likely to be a single cure because there isn't a single cause. But ignoring the problem in the hope that it will pass is no solution at all, as Dawdy eloquently asserts.
David A. Hippo
ONE BLACK HOLE AT A TIME
Thanks to Philip Dawdy for shining light on a very difficult subject. I found his article painful to read, because it brought back feelings of despair and wanting to not exist. He's right about how people want to sweep the subject under the rug. I can remember being a teenager and swallowing 15 aspirin, or sitting with a bottle of codeine cough medicine, hoping I'd get the nerve to actually succeed at it this timeand all the while hearing from family and friends: "Oh, stop being so dramatic!" This went on for years, until a former roommate realized I was in trouble the night I tried to kill myself while walking in my sleep. Since then, thanks to therapy and medication, I have fewer "black hole" days. Now I can recognize when I'm heading into a depression and take steps to get through it. More importantly, I now know that, despite some feelings to the contrary, I will eventually get through it and come out the other side.
But I would not have reached this point in my life without the support and aid of caring friends and trained professionals. I only wish someone had taken the time to get me the help I needed 20 years ago.
NO SPORTS FOR MENTAL ILLNESS
I suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette's syndrome and, like Philip Dawdy, know what it is like to live the existence of the mentally ill. For the last few years, I've been dealing with thoughts of taking my own life. Seeing the issue put into print in such a potent, personal way meant a great deal to me. I'm grateful for Dawdy's courage and candor in forcing such a taboo issue into the media mainstream.
For me, one of the most difficult facets of having a mental illness is the lack of self- respect that seems an almost inevitable consequence. A man with artificial legs runs a marathon, and it makes the news. Wheelchair athletes play against each other, knowing they could never stand up against "whole" opponents, yet the fact that they dare to play is cause for celebration.
Not so for those with mental illnesses. Every day thousands of people with mental disabilities struggle to try to fit in to "normal" society. They go to work and to school; sometimes their struggles meet with success, many times they end in failure, but always they go back, again and again, to fight the daily upstream swim.
As I beat my head against this invisible wall, I find myself wondering if anyone cares that people like myself keep trying. Perhaps it would be easier to endure the realization that I'll likely never be successful by society's standards if I could occasionally hear someone outside the mental-health community say, "Hey, at least these guys had the guts to try to overcome this thing. They forced themselves out of bed, they went to their jobs, they're trying to make it on their own. Good for them!" A day's work, perfect or not, can be a victory, too.
While I agree with Philip Dawdy's stance regarding our society's denial of suicide, I fervently disagree with his statement that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors "are like neutron bombs . . . your feelings and healthy range of emotional response to the world are dead." I've taken antidepressants since 1997. I am not a zombie. I'm learning appropriate ways to vent my often-intense anger (therefore, I still feel anger); I cry my eyes out when situations (an emotional movie, an argument with my significant other) trigger that fear of abandonment inside (meaning I feel sadness and fear); and I can laugh at some ridiculously unreal situation until my stomach hurts (the ability to feel immense joy). I thank modern science for the medications that inhibit the extreme, debilitating downward emotions emanating from my depressive thoughts. I'm also grateful for the psychotherapeutic processes that have helped me grow into my adult self and realize that some of my depression can be alleviated through hard psychological, emotional, and cognitive work, and with support from others.
Purposeful prescribing of antidepressants, after a thorough psychiatric evaluation and in combination with therapy, may help alleviate the suicide pandemic. This is different from the mass prescribing of antidepressants to the generally worried well, who would do better to look inside themselves and work to change their thoughts and/or behaviors, rather than depend on some pill to take the edge off their bad day.
Suzanne St. Peter
We received a great many more letters in response to Philip Dawdy's article "One Suicide Too Many." Below are several that did not run in this week's print edition.
I wanted to really thank Philip Dawdy for his article. I spent many Saturday nights with Cynthia Doyon in the tub. I came to rely on her; I admired her depth and knowledge. I never knew what she looked like, but I liked her a lot.
I had no idea that she was so depressed. I certainly would have stopped what I was doing at any time and talked with her had I known. I say this because I have been thinking of suicide from time to time myself. I had a Glock on hold at Butch's Gun Shop for awhile. I remember very well how calm things seemed when I bought it and how cold and emotionless it felt in my hand. I suspect I can imagine a little of how Doyon felt.
I feel a huge loss. I thought that she was gone and no one cared. I was silently outraged. I talked to people about her, but no one seemed to know of her. When I saw Dawdy's article, I felt very good. She deserves that and more. She was a singular person.
Cyntihia Doyon suddenly disappeared, and KUOW quietly replaced her. As a fan of her show, I appreciate Philip Dawdy breaking the silence, both at KUOW and in the larger community. And as another for whom suicidal ideation has been more or less present most of my life, I also appreciate Dawdy giving words to the struggle. Thanks.
Bravo! Thanks to Seattle Weekly for having the courage to publish this article, and to Philip Dawdy for having the courage to write it. Both of my sons died by suicide. People that I long considered friends run when they see me, like I have a contagious illness. It is time for suicide to be brought out of the darkness, to be recognized as the illness that it is.
I was once able to put pen to paper and craft coherent sentences. I can no longer do that. I do well to remember my name. Thanks to Dawdy for saying what I can't.
Panama City Beach, FL
Great story. I am glad that Philip Dawdy shared his experiences with us. Fourteen years ago, my wife committed suicide. We knew she was bipolar and she was also taking meds, but that didn't stop the end results. It's difficult to understand why this illness isn't more acknowledged, because the results affect so many people besides the one who commits the act. Back then, as I imagine today, it was difficult to find support for family and friends of the victim. I was able to find a group called Survivors of Suicide. It helped immensely, but whenever I read about suicide, it bring back old feelings.
Thanks again for the story.
Bravo to Philip Dawdy for his courage. I can't imagine what living life compelled by such horrific thoughts could be like, but his vulnerability in this article is to be applauded. It's safe to say we've all been touched somehow by suicide, whether it's taken a friend, a friend of a friend, or a family member. But so rarely has it been exposed in such a gripping way, by someone willing to risk so much in order to do so. Talk about a brave soul.
Thank you for the insightful and heartfelt article about Cynthia Doyon and how our society views suicide and wants to ignore the problem. The first person perspective from author Philip Dowdy also lent credibility, without being maudlin.
Imagine my chagrin when immediately after reading the article, I looked at Seattle's other alternative weekly and saw their cover story "Have a Drink Seattle . . . Cure Your Annual Crushing Case of Seasonal Depression." Among the related articles about different types of bars was this heading: "Bars So Depressing You'll Stop Contemplating Suicide and Kill Yourself Already."
Even after accounting for tongue-in-cheek humor, it seems your competitor proved Dawdy's point when he wrote, "We have contempt for the desperate, lonely, sick people who take their own lives and those who, like me, trudge through life assaulted by suicidal thoughts. We just don't think . . . [they] are worth saving."
Thank you for allowing Philip Dawdy to write the article on suicide! My son committed suicide one year ago, and I have noticed firsthand how people sweep the issue under the rug. They don't even want to talk about it. It makes them uncomfortable. Well, it's a very uncomfortable issue, but also vividly real, especially to those who commit suicide and to their families. It's about time we started talking about it! Bring this horrible topic out in the open so we can talk, listen, and get an understanding!
I appreciate Dawdy and his candor about his own feelings of suicide. He's one of many who contemplate suicide, but often don't talk about it. No one would listen, and if they did, they would be judged harshly. Well, let's talk! Let's help our neighbor and family member! It starts with us . . . with Philip Dawdy and others.
I thank him for sharing his heart. It meant a lot to me and countless others.
Thank you for the article by Philip Dawdy on the suicide of local music host Cynthia Doyon and the broader subject of the act of suicide.
For six years, I worked at a local mental-health center that served the poorer sections of South Seattle, Burien, and White Center. In 1997, I left my position of mental-health case manager/mental health professional. This was in most part due to the enormous stressors.
The agency moved from a fee-for-service to a managed-care model. That increased our case loads (35 clients in 1992 to well over 70 clients in 1997). Today, many case managers are dealing with well over 90 clients. Social workers, nurses, and case managers, the very people who are on the front lines, are constantly battling overwhelming paperwork as well as the continual patronizing notion that caregivers should receive minimal compensation. (Today, job burnout is extremely high as well staff turnover.)
There is far less time to meet with clients in desperate need and a defined strategy by the managed care corporation to reduce hospitalizations for people in crisis (and those individuals experiencing suicide ideation).
The support services are simply not meeting the demands of a society, which since 9/11 has created more fear, leaving those fragile souls further isolated and helpless.
We should be ashamed.
Thanks to Philip Dawdy for exposing the secret of suicide. The article on Cynthia Doyon's death by suicide, including Dawdy's admission of mental illness and thoughts of suicide, will go a long way to raise awareness about a problem that is very real.
In the state of Washington, we lose two young people (ages 10 to 24) to suicide every week; another 16 make suicide attempts that result in hospitalization. We need to educate young people, parents, educators, social-service professionals, and community advocates to recognize the warning signs and how to intervene. This education needs to occur in school s and communities before another youth dies by suicidedo we wait to get trained until after the crisis?
In addition to telephone hot lines (800-SUICIDE) we desperately need accessible and timely mental-health resources to counsel and support suicidal individuals and their families. The time is NOW.
Director, Youth Suicide Prevention Program
I have read many articles on suicide since my 18-year-old daughter, Arlyn, killed herself, and I must say Philip Dawdy's is definitely one of the most outstanding, eloquent articles I've ever read.
He presented the facts in a powerful way with real passion. He spoke the truthwords others need to hear, if they will only listen.
I thought of a movie that used to be shown to future teachers (I'm a retired fifth-grade teacher). The movie was Cypher in the Snow. The young boy in the movie essentially existed. He was never part of the world around him. No one knew anything about himand one day, he simply died.
Cynthia Doyon seems to have simply existedan invisible woman who had a voice, but no connections. And one day, she just died. Sort of.
Arlyn was bipolar, but we were unaware. We know now what we should have known then. Ignorance may be bliss sometimes, but in some cases, it's fatal.
I invite you to visit her memorial Web site and read her story (www.parentsofsuicide.com).
Cynthia Doyon reminded me of Arlyn. Arlyn was an outstanding student in high school, very musical, very intelligentand yet she was never part of the world.
Karyl Chastain Beal
Thank you for printing the story on suicide. It's well written and long overdue. Philip Dawdy has a real grip on this awful subject. We lost our 20-year-old daughter this summer to suicide. She died by gunshot. Our life has been forever changed.
I, too, pray that the health industry will wake up and take note of what is going on. And that our government will finance this also.
I picked up the Weekly, wanting to read about Cynthia Doyon. Instead, I read about Cynthia Doyon reduced to a suicide.
What Philip Dawdy fails to emphasize is that it is the life that matters, not the death. Cynthia Doyon's life mattered and matters still to those of us who loved what of her life she brought us. That we now know more of the cost of that life only adds to the preciousness of the gift.
Dawdy intimated that the whole business of describing the complexity of suicide is "best left to philosophers and poets." I wish he would have.
Kimble James Greenwood
I am a mother of a suicide victim. I am now what you call a survivor.
We are a huge statistic growing in numbers beyond my ability to know. What I do know is that I am so grateful to Philip Dawdy for his courage and knowledge to speak as candidly as he did.
Everyone's story is differentthe ages are different and circumstances are differentbut the end result is the same. Another human being is lost to suicide . . . including our only daughter at the age of 18. Her name is Becky Elizabeth DeVore, and she did not have to die.
After the horror of seeing news footage and reading articles about Seattleites screaming at a desperate, suicidal woman to " . . .just jump, bitch" and later hearing that, unbelievably, a local radio station played the song "Jump" by Van Halen, along with other incitements, I will never feel or think the same way about Seattle again. It was a good eye-opener.
I'd rather know these things and have an altered understanding of our community based in reality than a false one based on preconceived notions. Philip Dawdy showed more insight, care, and concern in one article than most people will do in their lifetime.
I want to commend your paper for hiring Philip Dawdy and for printing the article "One Suicide Too Many." I don't believe that I've read such an open article regarding the subject of suicide ever, especially in a public forum.
Dawdy deserves to be rewarded for his openness in allowing readers to have a firsthand view of someone who battles this horrid disease on a daily basis. His willingness to be so open regarding a topic that no one wants to talk about, except those of us who are survivors, is appreciated beyond words.
Until someone steps forward to speak out, until someone with authority makes an impression on others to force the necessary changes in our health care field and in people's attitudes toward mental illness, the numbers of needless deaths will continue. Our children will have died, deaths that no one wants to talk about, least of all do anything to prevent. The stigma of suicide will continue to exist. And people will continue to whisper among themselves, not speaking out loud because, if they do, these deaths from suicide can become too real for others to deal with; it might happen to them next.
Therein lies part of the problem, no one thinks it can happen to their family. My God, people, take notice. It is happening to you, maybe not today or next month, but someone you know will be affected by suicide. Those of us left behind face every day with the knowledge of what this horrible disease can and has done to our children and our families. Our children no longer suffer, but the second someone dies by suicide, the ones left behind begin to suffer a death alsoa slow, painful death of our minds, hearts, and our very being. We are forever changed.
My son, Jeremy Blake Berry, was 20 years old; he was a wonderful person, he suffered from mental illness, he died from a single bullet to his right temple. To most he is just another statistic. To his daughter, born after his death, he's a father she will never know; she'll never hear his laughter or share his wonderful smile and humor. To me, his mother, he's my first miracle from God. My special, special talented son who was loved by everyone and who helped all that needed his help.
Jeremy died on Feb. 9, 1996, and his memory, his meaning, will never be forgotten.
LeAnn Berry Mendoza
Thanks so much for Philip Dawdy's article "One Suicide Too Many." He not only so honorably let Seattle into his world of challenges and struggles, but he gave the community information and feelings that should set their hearts pounding and their minds and bodies into action. To speak so eloquently and fervently about how our society discriminates against those with mental illness and limits access to treatment should ramp up people's motivation to change things. In that regard, I encourage people in Washington to work hard for mental-health parity and against mental-illness stigma. There are local organizations people can jointhe National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and the Washington Coalition for Insurance Parity. Check MentalHealthParity.com to find out how to make President Bush live up to his promise of mental-health parity. Get involved in two major mental-health walks in Seattle this year. It is way past time to kick some government butt and get mental-health care in the U.S. out of the last century and into this one!
Ron Sterling, M.D.
The article "Once Suicide Too Many" sounds an appropriate alarm to the need for more to be done about the problem, though Philip Dawdy paints an all-too-cynical picture of the mental-health treatment that is available. However sour his experience may have been, the fact remains that many (including myself) have greatly benefited from the medications and treatments currently offered by very caring and competent practitioners.
I'll be the first to vote for any candidate willing to bolster services to the mentally ill. But I'd be very reluctant to portray as "neutron bombs" the treatments that have restored the lives of so many people.
Philip Dawdy's article on suicide resonated with me because I endure the same
kind of struggles he does. I, too, am prone to deep depressions that can last weeks at a time that can be triggered by seemingly small events, and suicidal thoughts are frequent during those times.
Dawdy's call for a more open dialogue on the taboo topic is a noble one, but it will probably go unheeded. To look at the causes that lead to suicide is to take a deep look at our society. People just don't want to do that. People easily shun anyone who isn't a shiny, happy person 24/7/365. They would rather duck their head into the metaphorical sand and numb their minds through television dramas than confront a problem with someone they know.
I don't get treated for my depression. I once went on Zoloft, and I gained 40 pounds almost overnight. I also felt artificial while on that medication. I don't get counseling because most insurance plans don't cover counseling.It's almost enough to make someone who suffers from a depression disorder think that society could care less about them.
Philip Dawdy's suicide article is haunting, as well it should be. Correct, we won't talk about suicide. We won't even talk about plain old dying, the one act, besides birth, that all humans experience. So the fact that there is a will to death, or annihilation, in us that, for some, may be as strong as the will to live is so unfathomable, it calls for an equally massive defense. Thus the silence. Thus the deriding. The name calling. The distancing that labels the suicidal as "other," someone unlike us or anyone we know.
Yet, as the article says, suicide is not unusual. When I was in the second grade, a classmate's father hanged himself. My teenage stepbrother stabbed himself to death. When I worked in a mental-health
clinic, a junkie eventually gave into that longing for self-destruction and fatally overdosed.
I, too, have experienced the pull to annihilation. Despite two suicide attempts during my teen years, I'm basically a happy, joyful, optimistic person who rarely feels any problem is too big to be solved. I'm energetic, creative, full of ideas, and delight in possibility. I have an inner calm, a spiritual solidity that is an unending source of strength and comfort. Yet I'm aware that there exists, too, barely detectable, a current that, under the right conditions, will allow me to release my hold on life and return to the void. Ordinarily that condition is old age, terminal illness, or accident.
As a teenager, the right conditions were the incredible harshness of the world and the inability to find my inner nature reflected in it. My childhood was violence-filled, and my parents' breakup in my early teens knocked out any remaining props. But besides my own pain, I felt early on a compassion for the world that overflowed in melancholy at the cruelties and deprivations I witnessed, especially those I knew were unnecessary. Growing up on a farm, I played alone in the woods where the natural world nourished me. Mystical and psychic experiences were commonplace. But they were not common, or accepted, by the rest of the world I lived in.
By my midteens, I'd done my best to harden myself. I wore a studded leather jacket, cursed with every breath, ingested enough drugs to keep a pharmacy afloat, and generally tried to leave the impression that no one and nothing could touch me. The spiritual sensing still came, but I tried to ignore it. To survive in this world, I believed I had to kill my sensitivity and compassionmy true nature. But killing our true nature means killing ourselves. Even if the body survives. I didn't seem able to completely destroy my nature, so I tried instead to destroy my body.
We humans, collectively, create the world we live in. Over hundreds of generations, our wars, oppressions, genocides, and injustices of every stripe have created so much accumulated fear, anger, and pain in this world that it's become a place many of us don't want to be. Even our religious ideologies tell us the Earth, the physical life, is something to escape.
Christianity tells us not to be of this world and to seek our reward in heaven. Buddhism, while promoting the quest for liberation from suffering in the earthly life, also holds out the goal of not having to return to physical existence.
With this harshness, these ideologies that embed in us, and the ordinarily dormant annihilistic current within us, it's no wonder the compulsion to end our own life arises and overwhelms some of us. Perhaps the taboo on suicide is necessary to keep us here. Without that taboo, more people might choose it. After all, what is our widespread abuse of drugs and alcohol but an attempt to escape while stayingcaught in an earthly limbo. It's suicide in slow motion.
I want to live in a world where we all can experience the beauty and joy of the Earth, in which the life force and true nature in all of us is nourished and supported, and the will to let go comes only when it's time to let go, when the body is worn out and our work is done. For that world to bloom, every bit of talent and vision and sensitivity you and I have is necessary.
Those who are prone to suicide, typically, have all three in abundance.
Philip Dawdy states in last week's article "One Suicide Too Many": "We largely accept suicide as the ultimate act of the mentally ill." Pulleeeezze. I simply disagree with the author's disrespectful attempt to rip the dignity from Cynthia Doyon's last unalterable act by characterizing her, and her final choice, as sick.
Cynthia Doyon was a thoughtful, shy, and creative woman who, at 48 years of age, made an autonomous decision to stop living.
And while I support the general view that preventing irrational suicidethose carried out or attempted during a period of extreme emotional and psychological distressis an admirable goal, I do argue that it is not an absolute that every suicide is irrational.
Monotheistic theology defines life as belonging to God and certainly considers suicide an unethical act. But from this perspective, the same could be said for divorce, premarital sex, or eating chicken and milk at the same time. In Catholicism specifically, suicide has been considered a mortal sin. The chief Catholic argument is that one's life is the property of God, and that to destroy one's own life is to wrongly assert dominion over what is God's. This argument runs into a famous counterargument by David Hume, who noted that if it is wrong to take life when a person would naturally live, it must be wrong to save life when a person would naturally die, as this too seems to be contravening God's will.
Are there no instances in which suicide can be considered rational? Would suicide as a last act of defiance against tyranny (Africans who leapt from slave ships), as antiwar protest (immolating Buddhist monks), as political action (Gandhi's fasting), as euthanasia (physician-assisted suicide), or in instances where profoundly distressing, unalterable, or deteriorating life conditions exist be considered a rational choice?
Is self-determination not a fundamental right of every human being? Perhaps, particularly in Cynthia Doyon's case, we can see suicide as an authentic and measured response to the state and future of one's own life, not as a symptom of a diseased mind. Perhaps she simply became, in the words of Nietzsche, "an arrow of longing for another shore."
I am a therapist in Seattle, and I thought I might offer something to the debate that speaks to the difficulty we have in talking about suicide in our culture.
Choosing the means of one's own end has always been controversial. The question is this: How did suicide come to be a matter of law, rather than exclusively an act of a personal dimension? We have no language in the current state of the discourse to speak of suicide that is not of medical or legal in origin. It is almost as though the force of history had almost completely stripped us of the ability to consider the means of one's own death. Only the existentialist movement of Sartre, Camus, et al., preserved a language that speaks of choice and will and meaning when considering how to think about suicide.
Any reading or Internet searches on suicide almost categorically are in the language of assisted suicide, which is of a concern to both the medical and legal establishment. It is something of the same shadow that hangs over psychotherapy: The medical model frames the serious consideration of suicide as a symptom in a greater constellation of symptoms like depression or addiction. There's no space for that discussion.
But if I can't choose my deathbeing of sound mind and bodythen life isn't a choice at all, is it?
The current language and laws are really about infantalizing the client, making the therapist an arm of the State (Thomas Szasz, 1999), or framing suicide as a symptom of a mental-health disorder.
To kill yourself for unacceptable reasons signifies insanity (Code of Justinian); the insane person cannot be said to commit suicide for a valid reason since he or she has no will (legal definition of suicide); ergo, sane people don't kill themselves for no reason at all. Here's the bind we're in: The medical and legal establishments are deciding what are acceptable rationales for ending one's life. I suppose there is some measure of relief that there is no moral/religious basis to confuse the issue.
In short, we as a culture don't address suicide because we have robbed ourselves of the language to speak of it accurately, or therapeutically.