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University of Wisconsin–Madison

The Domino Effect in A Tale for the Time Being

Although not directly established in this novel, one of the
themes that struck me while reading A
Tale for the Time Being
was the risk associated with losing a loved one to
suicide. Nao’s story turned out (we hope) for the better, but there are many
real-life stories that have not been so fortunate. As we saw throughout the
novel, Nao frequently connected her own feelings of suicide to those same
feelings she saw through her father’s actions. While it was tragic that her
father was depressed to the point of taking his own life, what seems even worse
is that his daughter followed his example and perceived suicide as the only way
out of her struggles.
While we normally work under the assumption of prevention,
we sometimes forget that even after the battle has been temporarily lost in the
wake of a death by suicide, there is still prevention work to be done.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), nearly 10%
of all suicides can be connected to the idea of the Domino Effect or “copy cat”
suicides1.  Suicides sensationalized
in the media have been connected to others that follow similar methods.  Similarly, and perhaps more important, is the
idea that those who have recently lost someone to suicide or any unexpected
death, may be at a higher risk for suicide if not given the proper support to
get through this emotional and traumatic time. Given that 85% of us will lose a
loved one to suicide, this seems too important of a connection to pass-over2.
                                                                                            
In this way, we all have a job to do. Suicide is 100%
preventable if the proper resources and support networks are in place. We need
to be proactive about asking friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, and
strangers how they are really doing and be educated in the resources we can
direct them towards. On page 286, Nao’s mother acknowledges Nao’s father’s
attempt at suicide by saying, “Of course it was an accident […] Silly Papa! How
could you be so careless?” As long as we continue to watch and ask our friends
and family how they are really doing and provide the support they need in good
times and bad, we can break out of the denial that Nao’s mother is content to
follow and save a life.
Erin Breen
Vice President
ASK.LISTEN.SAVE.

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