Whenever a Jew hears of a death, there is a blessing we must say. “Baruch ata Hashem, elokeinu melech haolam dayan ha-emes.” It translates as “Blessed is the Lord, our G-d, the King of the world and true Judge.”
It’s a really hard blessing to say, particularly today.
A couple we are good friends with are suffering. Their son, just in his late teens or early 20’s has committed suicide, taking his own life. We never met the son, but knew that he was troubled from the father, who was struggling to find the right response, the loving but tough response that might help his son get his life back on track. Sadly, he was unable to help his son or perhaps his son simply couldn’t be helped.
Either way, a young man, barely beginning his life, chose to end it, tearing a hole in the hearts of his family and everyone who loved him.
My mind struggles to comprehend the pain that this family must be suffering and to see how this could be a just judgment, but Hashem’s view is far different from mine. Perhaps this boy had accomplished all he was sent to do or perhaps his pain was so great in this world that this was the only compassionate answer. Maybe this was him exercising his free will? There is no way to know why something like this needed to happen and now that it has, about all there is to concentrate on is giving what comfort can possibly given to those left behind.
This is Alaska, too, a state of such incomparable beauty where the suicide rate is many times the average of the rest of the nation, where guns are plentiful, gun violence common, and most of the victims die by their own hands. Whether it’s the darkness that grows each winter, the high levels of drug and alcohol abuse, or the isolation, so many choose to cut their lives short here, tragically, in a land known for extremes.