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Suicide and Genetics
Original Post

This is the darkest corner of the play. Prozak’s mother commits suicide and leaves her daughter depressed and wondering if the same will happen to her. What is a suicide in a family? Someone who exits and leaves the door ajar for others to follow. A door through which a dark wind blows. A possibility. A drafty secret. Talk to anyone who has one suicide in the family and there are often more; the shadow of a single suicide reaches across several generations.

I’ve always admired my maternal grandmother, an artist with a long neck, which she disguised with glass beads, and a bit of a shy stutter. She made me scrapbooks, and perfected her technique of deep color etching. I slept in her studio with wasps crawling from cracks in the ceiling and a large etching press. At a certain point in a life of battling depression, she thought it would be cleaner, less of a burden, to kill herself, and she did so very efficiently, boxes tied with string and labeled in her strong block print. There is something stoic in her action. She meant to help her daughter, but it was hurtful as well, as any suicide tends to be. And the door opened a crack, and yawned darkness, beyond my mother’s next drink.

My mother is a recovering alcoholic, chronically depressed, but determined to stay alive. I admire that in her. As in clouds there are big holes where sunshine and blue sky radiate. She is at times happy enough to make it all worthwhile. Recently has been making conscious efforts to "feed the good wolf." Whatever that it is: Feed the good wolf. Living with my mother, as she lived with her mother, one gets used to being in the proximity of depression. Understanding what a powerful leviathan it is, which needs many tools to shape it into something one can live with, or make go away. With suicide genetics can create an undertow of inevitability, as strong as the environment; is it within the individual’s ability to swim against the familial tide? Prozak struggles to comprehend her mother’s suicide by going into her dreams, her music, imagination, and forms of self-expression. She tries swimming in whatever genetic pool she has been given flailing around yet staying afloat. Arvin wishes to understand the source of this pain to be able to treat, it before his daughter dives too deep. His frustration is being so close to comprehending so much about how the brain functions and yet so far from a practical dialogue with his daughter. He cannot spare her the pool she has plunged into, nor help her swim.

Comment from KellyAnne Hanrahan on 4/21/2009

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