Why Do I Write: About Suicide

Especially in my earliest published poems, it might seem like the only thing I write about is other people’s suicide. Contrary to popular belief, this is not because I thought that writing about suicide was cool. Far from it. I very rarely write about the actual person’s motivation for killing themselves, or lament the loss of this or that brilliant person. For the most part, anything I write about suicide is directed towards the society that the suicide killed themselves in.

The county I come from has a high rate of suicide among young adults and teens (I read at one point that it is as high as 9% or something- which honestly doesn’t surprise me). There isn’t a single year that has gone by, since I got into high school and became aware of these kinds of things, that someone close to me or my friends hasn’t killed themselves. (When I was in elementary school, a peer’s parent killed himself but that was not something I was fully aware of until later). Even now in college- last month, a friend of my little brother killed himself, and last week a friend’s ex got plastered and jumped off of the roof of a house and died in the hospital. If it seems like I write about suicide alot, it is because I am literally surrounded by it. And I am disgusted by it.

By ‘disgusted by it’, I don’t necessarily mean that I am disgusted that a person has chosen to end their own life. Though I may not think that it was really the best choice, I’m aware that it was their choice and that what is done is done. But I have found myself increasingly disgusted by the response of the community to such tragedy. People who never knew the kid rush to claim to have been ‘secretly their best friend’ (seriously, not even kidding. Every. Single. Time.), people who I watched bully the living hell out of the kid snap at anyone who dares bring up what they did swearing that they themselves were really ‘misunderstood’, and people get out of class to mourn someone they never knew. The suicide threats afterwards are staggering as well. Every time a kid kills himself, twenty more have to tell their friends that they themselves wanted to kill themselves and holy shit we have to give those kids ALOT OF ATTENTION until they get tired of it five days later and everyone goes back to acting EXACTLY the same as they did before this all happened (despite extreme professions to change their ways). People forget who the person who killed themselves really WAS and make up this pretend person who never existed and then beat that dead horse until there’s nothing left. Which, inevitably, leads to the mindset that makes suicide a viable option to many teens.

It’s this never ending cycle that I’ve found myself stuck in year after year after year and almost every year I have to write about it just to get it the f out of my system.

Anniversary by Amber Koneval

green chalk flakes off my back window

the microphone squawks

the feet shuffle in the wet grass

as the wind seeks shelter beneath my coat

robbing my warmth

as if I had any

as if I had anything to offer today

but empty memories and faceless regret

the children laugh, and they sing off key

and you can hear the parents grinnning they’re faking it so hard

and I wonder if it’s possible that


ever smiled like that.

were his smiles so plastically


that they blinded us to the


behind his glittering


filled to blackness with unspoken words

finally silenced a year ago today?

was he ever so desperately happy

or did we just imagine him to be

because to admit that we had seen

the dull, sticky red throbbing

choaking out his words

is to admit that we ignored it

desperately, maniacally content ourselves

until it rushed out of his lips

onto the floor?
why is it now that we love him

our memories tainted rose

when he is no longer here to taste it

the love

that we claim to have had

the love misplaced

growing out of tragedy’s ashes

such shallow roots

with the illusion of forging deeper

memories we alter to bury our guilt in his grave

lavishing love we had witheld

useless treasure in an empty void
from the hearts of those

who had abused

and those who had known

those who associated

and those who had been ignorant

all joined together beneath one name and one anniversary
for the true face of which is different for everyone-

the face is fear






highest of all


Amber Koneval

-Published in Farsighted (2010)