How to talk about death

An HBO documentary, “32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide,” follows the story of a director’s sister and how she handled her death.

How should we talk about suicide with those who have lost loved ones? Director Hope Litoff has spent years grieving the death of her sister Ruth, and documents the agonizing process of coming to terms with her absence in the film, “32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide.”

In an interview with Salon’s Alyona Minkovski for “Salon Talks,” Litoff said that her hope is that “people will feel more comfortable to talk about it” after watching the film. “It’s ok to say the word suicide, it’s ok that that’s the way that certain people died, that it’s gonna take a long time for the survivor to feel better,” she said.

While Litoff says there’s no perfect way to approach the subject, she says that it’s both “healing and helpful” when people say, “I know you went through something really hard and I’m here to listen whenever you’re ready to talk about it”.

Even though we’ve come a long way in treating mental illness more seriously, Litoff says that there are still mysteries we haven’t solved. “I don’t have the answer to why beautiful, talented young woman had to feel so bad...I’m never gonna know why her and not me.” Watch the clip above for more on Litoff’s experience making the film and trying to piece together her sister’s suicide.

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