A Topic Not Talked About But Should Be

suicFor the first four and one-half decades of my life, I knew a grand total of one person who took their own life. I was only 17 and it was a father of an acquaintance, a man I barely knew.

In the past few years, there have been over a handful, not to mention the national news (Ex/ Robin Williams among others) as well as the estimated 25 a week suicides of returning military people(1). It is a growing tragedy. America is not alone. The United Kingdom is experiencing 15 year highs (2) and Japan continues to lead the world in this category (3).

Many people experience a case of the blues or wish that we came with an “off” switch sometimes. Psychologist tell us that is normal and for most of us, a temporary experience. A loved one passes, a pet dies, a breakup, stress of job or bills and the like can build and build. However, there is a large cavern for most of us between occasionally thinking about it and actually taking one’s own life. It is a gap that we would never cross.

Last week, an individual who had a huge impact on my youth took his own life. He was only in his early 60’s. I have no idea why he would take such drastic measures and have been rattled by the news to put in mildly. The individual I knew was strong, a leader and one who would help shape many of us into the men we are today. I am equally stunned and heartbroken.

And resolved to make a difference, both in my life and the lives of others.

How? The short answer is Systema.

The longer answer. . . .

I have an absolutely wonderful group of men and women here in the Orlando area at CFL Systema. Twice a week at least, we get together for 90 minutes and train. Some classes seem to flow like a mighty river. Everything just falls into place. Other times, it seems like we are driving over a bumpy road with a vehicle that has a flat tire. In both instances, we keep moving forward.

In the process of forward movement, interesting things begin to happen. On the “surface,” our movement become more effective and more powerful. And yes. . . it feels great to experience this.

On other levels, we get to practice patience, both with ourselves and with each other. When we see the masters like Vladimir and Michael move, it is effortless. It is a blending of art and athleticism that culminates with the opponent on the ground, disarmed. When we practice, such artistic athleticism does not always occur, putting it mildly. It can be frustrating or disheartening at times, but no one stops. We dust off, regroup and get moving again and again. The message is subtle and powerful – don’t quit. We just keep moving forward.

I do not know why my friend decided to end his life. Or the other people I knew, or the individuals I only read about. It is quite upsetting and I have deep compassion for them and their families left behind.

I do not know if I can make a difference in terms of altering someone’s behavior or life decisions. All I know is that by training, we continue to move forward and when you go in this direction, Life become an adventure worth living.