Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Art and Suicide

Gentle readers..
I am sharing deeply from my heart today..
I promised this year to dig deeper..

In the recent news of the suicides of Spade and Bourdain,
there have been many articles about suicide, depression and people sharing their thoughts and feeling about the subject. There are endless posts offering the hotline number for suicide prevention, 
which is all good. 
I am glad that we are having a larger discussion about this topic..
because it has touched me personally, not once but twice 
so today,
 I wanted to share some art
that I created in order to assist my healing and perhaps urge others to 
put pen to paper and paint on canvas..

to rip the stigma from this topic..


The painting below was done in May of 2009 when I found out that my brother had shot himself 
The title is..
I Think I'll Disappear Now
It is mixed media on canvas and hangs in my studio.

My brother was born angry. 
He was the kind of toddler who threw tantrums, pulled hair and jewelry. I remember him as always frustrated by someone or something.. he needed to be in control at all times. 
He was also talented, a poet and loved to write.. of course, that was not considered to be very macho at the time. 

 Caterina Giglio, Mixed Media on cradled canvas, I Think I'll Disappear Now, 12 x 16

I wasn't surprised to hear of his death..
I was only surprised that he had lived so long. 
people with so much anger and resistance don't last long..

 I realized then that death had finally brought him peace..
and that he could rest..
without being angry about someone or something
that he could not control.
There are some family members that feel it was an accident.. I can understand that...


I can contrast that death with the suicide of my best friend, many years earlier..
Roger was charming, cultured, brilliant and artistic but, 
he was never going to be the football player that his father wanted.
We talked for hours about art, and music, he introduced me to the work of Constable, and was positively crazy about Turner... 

I was miserable, when I found out that Roger had taken his life in 1978
 because I was going to miss him ..
But the worst part was that..
 Roger was a gay man just wanting to live his life with his sweetheart.
He took his life because he could not have the life he wanted. 
He was frustrated by the prison built for him,
 by society, and his family..

I have no art to share with you about Roger..
because I held it deep inside..

Caterina Giglio, Art Journal Page, 2012, The Dream

 In 2012.. I had the loveliest dream about my brother
 and I shared this spread on my blog..
when it happened..
In the dream, he waved to me in the distance and 
he walked up to me, he looked so radiant and beautiful..
I had just found a dead dragonfly and I held it out to him, feeling sad about it's death...
Pete just shrugged and grinned at me...
and then turned and walked off, waving goodbye to me as he
literally walked into the light of the sun..

For some reason that dream made sense to me of 

I know it is shocking to hear when someone has voluntarily decided to take
their own life..
believe me, 
try bringing it up in conversation
 when discussing naturally about the death of siblings..

"and how did your brother die?"
they ask innocently..
and as I answer the room suddenly goes still...

there is that word that lingers and is silently associated with the deed..

Caroll Giglio and Peter Giglio 1958

Fortunately suicide is no longer a crime.. 
I mean what would they do anyway, give you the death penalty?

But the stigma still remains..
The silence is pervasive..

I am just an artist working through the events that have made me..
but what I do know is 
that there are as many reasons for suicide as there are people..

Depression is not the only reason for suicide
it can be as simple as anger..

it doesn't really matter if the prison is created

 by the mind or by society..

it is time to unlock the cell..



Diva Kreszl said...

A beautiful and articulate expression of such a difficult subject, yes we must unlock the prison.

Fiona Dempster said...

Thanks for being so open and so honest Cat - that was a very special read. Go gently...

Colleen - Journal Design Shop said...

Thank you for sharing your deeply heartfelt experience and the art created from it. Art does help heal us doesn't it?

Kim Henkel Creations said...

So difficult and yet so important to share. Thank you so much - I hope you feel the hugs and warm thoughts I send your way.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing your heart breaking experiences with suicide. I'm so sorry for your losses. Your art and words are beautiful and comforting. After reading the comments and responses on your Facebook post and blog, it's wonderful to see that people can reach out, tell their story, comfort and support each other on their experiences regrading suicide.

Karen said...

❤️đŸ’• Hopefully something positive is left behind by those who go before us.

A bird in the hand said...

Beautiful, tender, heart-felt. It brought tears to my eyes. I never understood the stigma part. We should never judge because we don't know what goes on inside a person's soul. xoxo

lana kloch said...

thank you for sharing your past experiences... i have been in therapy most of my life and just started taking medication 10 years ago along w/ therapy.. my bouts of depression is under controll..

therapy has helped me reach for happiness..to surround myself with those who espouse the same.

i remind myself it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. i've had wonderful therapists as well..

thank yo u for listening .. there is the possibility to change..

Randi Kuhne said...

Life is such a mystery. Thank you for sharing your experiences so openly.

tgarrett said...

My Dear Caterina- this post is so profound and thank you for sharing deeply. My husband's sister he was closest to shot herself back in the early 70s we were in college then. It is something that still effects him to this day. I appreciate your sharing about your brother and your feeling that he was finally at peace. I have some friends that have shared they think suicide is a selfish act- that is not the case in my opinion. I am on medication for depression and have been for years- before I was I sometimes got to close to the abyss - fell in and felt there was no bottom to reach- a most scary freefall. And yes thoughts of ending that entered my mind. I am happy I have not had the feeling to end things in decades now- have a family of supportive friends and I have my art. Thank you for sharing so deeply dear one.

Cheryl said...

It's funny sometimes how you think you're the only one. I am deeply moved my your words.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

Although I know you had written about your brother before, I had no idea about Roger. What a burden that must have been for him and the expectations that were placed on him. If only he lived in this day and age, what a difference it would make.

My grandmother had two brothers and a sister. She was the baby of the family. Her brother just older than her, married a woman and they were NEVER apart in the many years they were together. They owned a business and worked together, did everything together. There was not one day they were ever apart. When his wife died, he went to the cemetery every day until the one year anniversary of her death. Authorities found him, shotgun in hand, slumped over her grave that morning. It tore my grandmother up, but after thinking about it, she wondered why it took him so long to "join her."

Thanks for this lovely post, dear.

suziqu's thread works said...

I had goose bumps reading this Cat! I was really feeling for you and feeling for the victims too! I think you are very brave to share your feelings on the suicides of two of your very dearest friends in life. It is time to have it all out in the open after all there is no shame whatsoever and who are we to judge?

You know it always seems to be those who are most sensitive and those unable to adapt to what society expects of them.
It takes a very long time, even a life time, to pick up the pieces of a heart that's been bruised and broken by this terrible shock and loss.

What saddens me to hear is that most deaths of those now under 40 are due to suicide. It says little about how we are living today!!!!!!
Bless you for sharing your heart felt grief with us and really relate to the dream and the artwork you expressed with both the losses.
xx Suzy

Unknown said...

Isn't stigma negative? Like others who have responded depression has been an unwelcome companion of mine for many years. Thankfully it is now well controlled. I make no secret of it if I hear comments about the 'weakness' of people who suffer, with varying responses. Here in NZ there are some high profile people who are speaking out about their experiences which is developing a greater understanding. It seems that it has been part of the human psyche forever...hence, I assume, the use of alcohol and drugs? You are never alone with your pain. Although I do not have a close realationship with a God, I do have a spiritual awareness which brings enormous comfort to me. Your visit from Peter was a gift...lucky lucky you. Thank you so much for sharing your pain xxx

froebelsternchen said...

I am deeply moved by your words and thank you for your posting!
My uncle did hang himself at the age of 55 as he got depressed for some years and at those times( 1982) they didn't help him well.
I am bipolar disordered since my postpartal psychotic illness in 2001 after the birth of my daughter.
I can understand suicide brought about by depression now so well even though I never has an aptness for suicide by myself yet.I am free of medicament since many years but just with the help of my ergotherapeutic hobby of making art.

I my mind I think the cell is almost unlocked - but I can imagine that many people don't feel clear about their depressions and don't get enough help ...
there is the need to do much more !

Wonderful art and I am in awe of your dream about your brother!
As I was completely manic and in hospital in 2001 I remember that my at those time long suicide death uncle came to me in one of my manic dreams - it was a good impression --- but I can't remember what he told me!

Hugs, Susi

Patti Edmon Artist said...


Caterina Giglio said...

Diva, thank you dearheart for your support and your love! xo

Caterina Giglio said...

Dear Fiona, thank you, dearheart, I shall... x

Caterina Giglio said...

Hi Colleen, yes it certainly does! Thanks for stopping by, I so appreciate your kind remarks!! x

Caterina Giglio said...

Hey Kim. I not only feel them I send some back your way! Thanks love!! x

Caterina Giglio said...

Hi Yolanda, thank you and yes it is important and wonderful and in our discussions, we elevate the possibility of changing the situation.. making suicide go down and not up... making it acceptable to discus and to understand and find hope. Thanks for your lovely comment!

Caterina Giglio said...

Hi Karen, I have no doubt that Roger and Peter both in their ways brought about the dialogue that is happening right now, and that was in my opinion great work. Nether death was in vain. Thank you so very much for your remark, I so appreciate it! xx

Caterina Giglio said...

My dear friend Colette, I so agree, and of course we feel the same way about this .. thank you dear one, no stranger to grief yourself. sending you a very big hug!! X

Caterina Giglio said...

Dear Lana, I agree that therapy can be life saving, it certainly made a lot of sense of my upbringing and allowed me find freedom in my life and release so many things.. guilt .. shame etc. I am so glad you found the help you needed and I agree that in surrounding ourselves with others who want to constantly see the beauty in life is not only uplifting, but necessary! Thank you for sharing your story, I so appreciate it and I appreciate you dear friend!! xo

Caterina Giglio said...

Hi Randi, yes, it certainly is and we never know what other people suffer. Thanks for always stopping by and leaving a comment! xo

Caterina Giglio said...

Dear sweet Terry, Now you must tell Ron that we have a heart link, I understand that it still affects him. I agree with you about the feelings surrounding the selfishness of suicide, and I came close to sharing my feelings in this post, but it became too long. I see suicide as the only alternative out of the prison, no matter what the cause, and people who have judgment about that are thinking selfishly about what they want. Who are we to judge them? Our job is to find the keys to unlock the prison.. whether through medication, or reversing brain damage, or simply talking and sharing making people feel safe enough to share. I am so very happy that your life is much happier now and I am so very blessed to call you my friend. Thank you so much. I am hoping that things are going well for you now and cannot wait to hear about your move!

Caterina Giglio said...

Hi Cheryl, well, we always feel that way in our isolation, it is only when we reach out that we find we are not alone. Thanks for commenting, I so appreciate it!

Caterina Giglio said...

Hi Dr. E. Yes Roger would be so happy right now, but he did not believe that it would ever happen... what changes we have made and yet have so far to go.
Thank you for your beautifully tragic story, I read it aloud to my dear videographer and we both had tears in our eyes, we understand.. I totally get the idea of wanting peace. x

Caterina Giglio said...

Hi Suzy,
It is devastating, isn't it? I was astounded to read that here in 2016 there were 45,000 suicides and the number is increasing. Here the most suicides are older people, like Spade and Bourdain.. which was shocking to me as well. We erroneously think that age brings a certain understanding that things will all work out, but there is so much more going on here than that. Thanks so much for your very kind remarks. I have to say, it took me all day to write and I really hesitated before I hit, "publish." However, I am so very glad I did, as it has really sparked discussion and that is very good work. Thank you dear friend! xoxo

Caterina Giglio said...

Hi Bonnie, I am so glad to hear that there are people in NZ speaking out ... we need that and we need to find answers, life should be so good! I am so glad to hear that you have a sense of control over depression and that is working well for you. It is so very important. I agree, my dream of Peter was an outstanding gift and has assisted me immensely in healing and know that all is well, regardless of the circumstance. Thanks for your comments and for always stopping by, I so appreciate it!!

Caterina Giglio said...

Susi, thank you for sharing so deeply from your heart about your illness and I am so happy that you have it under control and art has been so healing for you. I agree it is very good for us to connect in that way.. as if the soul is communing with something greater and more loving.
Perhaps the words that your Uncle told you in your dream matter less than the fact that he appeared to you, which sounds like such a very loving thing to do. I hope it was calming and I understand how mystical it is. Thanks so much dearheart! xo

Caterina Giglio said...

Patti.. My dear friend. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ Back to you!

CAWeStruck said...

Caterina, this post proves to me what I already knew, that you are not afraid to tackle hard subjects. Or, if you have fear, you do it anyway. Both qualify as fearless in my books! I so admire how you turn to art to express what, for many, is inexpressible, using it to inspire others and bring a measure of healing into their lives. You use words the same way. Both your art and your writing are a blessing.

Caterina Giglio said...

Carol, believe me, I felt the fear and I really hesitated before I pushed publish, but I knew that it needed to be said that a dialogue had to be created, the numbers go up, not down and there are many reasons for that, but the only way we bring change is to speak out. Thank you my friend, I so appreciate your words and admire your art and your work. Thanks for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it!

Jo Murray said...

It is important to be able to discuss those 'previously forbidden' subjects. Kudos to you for your fearlessness. Suicide has touched most of us, even from a distance. When I was in school I knew two boys who suicided....(there...I could not bring myself to say 'killed' themselves) It was, and still is, something that I ponder, wondering what emotions cause someone to do such a thing. As I get older, and health issues are raised, I sometimes wonder how one would do it painlessly. One can never tell how close this decision is.

Anonymous said...

I know you have spoken here about your brother before, and what you say about anger makes so much sense. People suffer in a myriad of ways, there is no easy way to look at this but I feel like too much time in tech makes some feel ever more isolated(and perhaps angry and depressed).. Trite as it is, smell the roses, hug a friend, meet for conversation, stay connected to the ones you love. Thanks for sharing and beautiful art, dragonflies are all about transformation, feels like you brother has made his transformation to a better place. xox

Don said...

Nice job Cat

Sharmon Davidson said...

Me, too, Terry. I'm glad neither of us fell too far.

Sharmon Davidson said...

Dear one, it is brave of you to open up so completely and share these tremendous losses with us. Suicide has such a stigma attached to it, as does its cause, depression. Especially in men, depression can manifest as anger. My point in saying this is that we will never be able to prevent suicide until we learn to better treat depression, or until more of the depressed are treated. And to do this, we need to somehow eliminate the stigma. As someone who has suffered from chronic treatment -resistant depression for most of my life, I feel the weight of that stigma every day. So I've made a sort of pledge to be open about it, in the hope that I can somehow help people overcome the shame that comes with this illness. So many don't get the treatment they need, because they don't want anyone to know about it. We have to change that. Big big hugs to you, sweetie.

Caterina Giglio said...

Hi Jo, Thank you for sharing and I understand that it is often difficult to even admit and use the words, "killed themselves".. It is a shocking thing as we are taught to take care and assist others when hurt and we want everyone to live well and healthy. In talking about it, we break the stigma and allow healing. I understand about your thoughts of painless suicide.. as we all age, I think it will become an important topic. Thanks for your response and sharing from your heart.

Caterina Giglio said...

Yes, Corrine, anger management is so important and teaching children to release control and let things go would be beneficial. You are so right and I do not feel it is trite at all, but taking time to really enjoy the beauty of this would would be such a good thing.. it certainly works for me.. xoxo

Caterina Giglio said...

Don, thank you my dearest! xo

Caterina Giglio said...

Hi Sharmon, I was talking to someone close to my brother last night and was told that he probably was depressed. Perhaps then, depression begins at an early age, infancy? He was angry from the moment he was born.I agree that there needs to be more work on depression, and have you heard about the work of Dr. Amen? There is YT post on my FB page.. a TED talk that he gave, I found it quite interesting. I certainly think that pills are not one size fits all, but I know they assist many and whatever it takes to make life more desirable is wonderful. What I do know about suicide is that the common denominator is pain, and that is the prison, regardless of the cause... Love you sweetie and thank you for your comments.. I am glad that you and Terry both got to this point .. and give thanks for you both! xoxo

froebelsternchen said...

Oh Caterina! Thank you so much for answering each single of those comments!
It was so very good that you posted this!


Much love and thank you for your heartful answer specially to me !
Hugs, Susi

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