The Domino Effect in A Tale for the Time Being
Although not directly established in this novel, one of the themes that struck me while reading A Tale for the Time Being was the risk associated with losing a loved one to suicide. Nao’s story turned out (we hope) for the better, but there are many real-life stories that have not been so fortunate. As we saw throughout the novel, Nao frequently connected her own feelings of suicide to those same feelings she saw through her father’s actions. While it was tragic that her father was depressed to the point of taking his own life, what seems even worse is that his daughter followed his example and perceived suicide as the only way out of her struggles.
While we normally work under the assumption of prevention, we sometimes forget that even after the battle has been temporarily lost in the wake of a death by suicide, there is still prevention work to be done. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), nearly 10% of all suicides can be connected to the idea of the Domino Effect or “copy cat” suicides1. Suicides sensationalized in the media have been connected to others that follow similar methods. Similarly, and perhaps more important, is the idea that those who have recently lost someone to suicide or any unexpected death, may be at a higher risk for suicide if not given the proper support to get through this emotional and traumatic time. Given that 85% of us will lose a loved one to suicide, this seems too important of a connection to pass-over2.
In this way, we all have a job to do. Suicide is 100% preventable if the proper resources and support networks are in place. We need to be proactive about asking friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, and strangers how they are really doing and be educated in the resources we can direct them towards. On page 286, Nao’s mother acknowledges Nao’s father’s attempt at suicide by saying, “Of course it was an accident […] Silly Papa! How could you be so careless?” As long as we continue to watch and ask our friends and family how they are really doing and provide the support they need in good times and bad, we can break out of the denial that Nao’s mother is content to follow and save a life.