It’s Not a Fear of Dying. It’s a Fear of Living

Craig Miller was 20 when he attempted suicide. After three days in a hospital, he was saved. For years Craig was silent about it, he felt ashamed and alone. But eventually he found a community of other survivors. He realized that he needs to share his story so that other people with similar thoughts would feel less alone.

Even though it has been declining, Lithuania still has the highest suicide rate in the world. Each year we lose almost 1,000 people who take their own lifes. And yet it’s very hard to talk about it openly.

Craig Miller is the guest of today’s NYLA podcast episode in which we analysed why people have suicidal thoughts and what are the right ways to help.

„It’s not so much a fear of dying.“ he explains. „It’s a fear of living. I was very afraid of what would happen tomorrow. Not so much of what would happen if I died.“

Craig is from Massachusetts, U.S. where he grew up playing music. His story is featured in S Word, a documentary about suicide attempt survivors. Last April the film was screened in different cities and towns in Lithuania. That is when we met Craig for the interview. The screenings were organised by the U.S. embassy in Lithuania and Lithuanian suicide hotline Jaunimo Linija. ©Severina Venckutė

„Could you imagine if nobody talked about cancer? If people would just say ‘No, we’re not gonna talk about it, we’re not gonna research it, we are just gonna ignore it.’ Imagine what would happen if we did that! And we do that constantly with suicide.“ says Craig Miller ©Severina Venckutė
“Speaking the word suicide is not the problem”, the creators of S Word say. “It’s the silence that often surrounds it.” ©Severina Venckutė

Suicide rate in Lithuania is almost three times higher than the EU average. Male suicide rate in is almost 6 times higher than the women. Craig attributes that to social norms restricting men to express their sadness. In his view, it’s crucial to cry in order to get better.

„Don’t listen to solve their problems. Listen to let them be heard. And don’t make them feel bad for what they are feeling.“

If you have a friend or a family member who deals with suicidal thoughts it’s crucial to let them know that you are there for them. And listen to what they are saying. „Don’t listen to solve their problems. Listen to let them be heard. And don’t make them feel bad for what they are feeling.“ says Craig

If you have suicidal thoughts, call Lithuanian Jaunimo Linija hotline any hour: 8-800 2 8888

The interview was conducted by Karolis Vyšniauskas, NYLA podcast host and producer. ©Severina Venckutė

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We want to thank U.S. embassy in Vilnius for bringing Craig Miller to Lithuania and arranging the interview

The interview was recorded at Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania.

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