A Forensic Exploration Into Understanding Suicide

Gilda Radner quote photo | Dianna Bonny Photography

I have been pondering suicide from a more forensic point of view, trying to understand what it is that makes the subject so very difficult for us to explore and discuss in a way that will ultimately be healing and expansive on both the collective, and individual, levels.

This exploration has grown out of the soil of my own discomfort at speaking about it in the beginning, when it was a raw and terrifying void.

To examine the question of what it means when someone we love chooses a self-inflicted death is wholly uncomfortable. It asks us to explore uncharted territory. In many ways, it holds a mirror up to our own life for reflection, and this is not an easy task.

When my world was impacted by my husband’s suicide, it was a devastating assault on my view of the world. It utterly shattered my sense of safety and I felt as though my identity had been stolen. It introduced an excruciating uncertainty into my life that was very difficult to tolerate.

In general, we humans have a very low tolerance for uncertainty. Our nature is driven by the quest for answers, but suicide, by its very nature, leaves us with questions.

I often hear people say, “How could he/she do this to me?” The aftermath of suicide can feel very much like it has been “done” to us and we take this experience of being left behind very personally. Society at large does not help with its rush to judgment and knee-jerk propensity to blame.

In comparison, when someone is murdered, we have a villain and there is an objective legal apparatus that immediately steps in to discover and examine every clue and uncover the facts. A murder is put under the microscope of trying to understand how all the various components came together — who, what, when, where and why.

The perpetrator provides the container to pour all our despair, blame and anger. The devastating injustice is ever so slightly mitigated by the ability to point the finger at someone and say, “You caused me this pain and loss, and you will be held accountable.”

While murder does not make sense, the existing process for the aftermath allows us to unravel the pieces, which provides a framework for our mind to work through what has happened and find some kind of resolution, in most cases.

This framework does not exist for unraveling suicide.

With a suicide, the “perpetrator” (for purposes of comparison) is a loved one. The act is steeped in shame and judgment. The reasons will most likely never be fully understood and the ability to be objective is just plain difficult.

Since there has been very little constructive conversation surrounding the healing and integration of suicide, the population of people left behind struggle in isolation and silence to find their way to resolution and healing.

It is my hope that we are standing on the fertile ground for a new way of thinking about, and responding to, the news of a suicide, by viewing the questions it leaves behind as an open-ended invitation to explore, rather than an indelible dead end.

Walking this path has not been easy and the most valuable lesson I have learned is to trust the state of not knowing and lean deeply into the uncertainty that comes with suicide. By allowing ourselves to explore the mystery with compassion, we come into possession of our own healing powers and, ultimately, the freedom to speak openly about it in conversation from a place of understanding.

It is a challenging and hard won state of being, but one that I wholeheartedly welcome and wish for all of those traveling this path with me.

May you always be present to the mystery and wisdom in your experience.

Sending love,


Who is Dianna Bonny?

Hi, my name is Dianna Bonny. It’s my mission to candidly share my journey with you. For me, it’s all about the healing: to create a radiant healing energy for others who have befallen a similar fate. Together, we can forge beautiful lives of belonging and connection. Thanks for joining me today! I look forward to hearing from you.

  2 comments for “A Forensic Exploration Into Understanding Suicide

  1. August 22, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    It is said that the most important relationship you will ever have in your life is the one you have with yourself. When we talk about “life balance” the general assumption is work/life – but there is another type of balance – us/others. To varying degrees we each spend our life trying to balance doing the right thing for ourselves vs showing up for loved ones, colleagues and society at large. Sometimes one simply grows so tired of the balancing act they make the choice to let go and follow their baser instincts to release the conflict and pain. Suicide is always sad, tragic and frustrating thinking of what might have been – but from the perspective of the one lost to us for that single moment – sometimes for the first time in their life – they have chosen to be there for themselves.

    • Dianna Bonny
      August 23, 2014 at 10:29 am

      Well said Marquita. I really appreciate your comment because I have been reframing my view, and judgment, of suicide over the past four years. I went in with a very one dimensional view and I am enjoying the opportunity to constantly expand my understanding and scope. I think the quote by Rumi very eloquently gives a starting point from which to explore this highly-charged topic. “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” I am always striving to meet people in the field. Thank you for sharing your perspective. db

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