I realized that the living room had grown silent as I told the newly bereaved mother what little I know about suicidal states of minds.
Mostly I told her that, while scripture tells us to "Choose life," people who die of suicide are not un-choosing it. They are choosing to end the pain, not to die, and they don't really understand, according to my son's therapist, that they will not be here tomorrow with the people they love so much. The tunnel vision, the fog created by pain and despair, take over, and they forget how much they are loved and how many people would do anything at all to save their lives.
I gave this Orthodox Jewish mom, with whom I used to discuss the academic progress of her children, my card, and told her to call me, not as a pastor, but as another mom.
Dad of Best Friend followed me out of the sweltering house to ask more questions. "These kids," he said, "they're all blaming themselves."
It's been a long time since I've been at an event at which the men go into the living room to daven (pray) while the women, dressed in long skirts and long sleeves despite the oppressive humidity, stand around in the kitchen and wait.
I liked it so much better before, when my expertise was world history and not suicide.