I was really sad to read about Rhonda Elkin’s death on August 29, 2014 on Uncle Spikes Adventures a couple of days ago, she wrote the blog ‘My Bright Shining Star’ , a blog about her feelings over the suicide of her 23 year old gifted daughter Kaitlyn who was a third year medical student.
In her blog post of August 26, 2014, entitled “One Day When I Die,” Rhonda wrote:
“At least on my dying day, if I have time to think before I go, I will have known that though I have not done great feats in this world I have no doubt that I did do some of the most important things a person can do; I have loved my children, my husband and family with all my heart and did the best I could for them, though I was far from perfect. Love has always been given freely in my house. I have loved my family. And I have written this book and if one person can be saved from it, it will have served its purpose. But I hope my book spurs on more action in some way.”
Rhonda wrote on August 26th 2014 : “I’m disturbed by all suicides. This is such a problem in our society now. Something is so very, very wrong. But what I want to write about tonight is the alarming rate of medical student, resident, and physician suicide that seems like an epidemic now.” .
One of the reasons I stopped commenting on Rhonda’s blog posts was that I just didn’t know what to say to help and to use the ‘like’ button on an upsetting post somehow seemed wrong. I asked Rhonda once if Kaitlyn’s friends could have spotted her depression and done anything whilst she was at University, she explained that Kaitlyn had covered up her depression from everyone, even her closest friends.
Whilst reading through her last posts my mind flicked to this article I read in the Guardian about a month ago about drink and drug addictions impacting on the lives of classical musicians. In the article a cellist says that “addiction is blighting the lives of many classical musicians as they grapple with performance anxiety and antisocial hours”. There was a C4 documentary called ‘Addicts Symphony’ about a project lead by composer James McConnel whose gifted son Freddy took a fatal heroin overdose in 2011.
I do feel that we should have more healthy activities to participate in as a group of musicians, bigger universities have sports activities such as ultimate Frisbee, football, badminton and ballroom dancing, these are just a few examples of several clubs that my brother Toms participated in this week.
Even smaller institutes could have yoga clubs, dance classes and socials close by that don’t revolve around drinking. I tried to get a salsa class up and running in my first year but the take up was too low to continue sadly. Schedules are also difficult as practice times run late into the evening, every time I start an external dance class my rehearsals interfere with lessons and I have to stop. I’m quite a determined person though so I always find solutions that work for me like using a swimming pool in a hotel nearby or taking an early morning yoga class at 07:30 but that gets difficult on cold, wet mornings as they’re half an hours walk away or going for a jog with some friends can help.