After saying she was “terribly lonely,” Alexa Joel downed sleeping pills in a suicide attempt. While loneliness can have profound consequences, the psychological community does not call it a "disease."
The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology just found that loneliness can be contagious. And Joel’s suicide attempt might reflect how it can play out in a family. Mom Christie Brinkley recently divorced her fourth husband. Dad Billy Joel split from his third wife, and returned to drinking binges. Now following a rough breakup herself, Alexa blogged that she hated being single and lonely in the city. (Her father tried to commit suicide in his early 20s after a breakup of his own.)
In her song, “Once You’ve Learned to be Lonely,” Reba McEntire describes how loneliness attaches to and stays with someone: “Once you’ve learned to be lonely, And lonely is the only thing you’ve known, It begins to feel like home. It becomes your comfort zone.” Let’s change that!
Alexa’s journey now must be to:
1.understand the contagion of loneliness from her parents
2.understand why she toyed with suicide as the “comfort zone” Reba describes.
The holidays are especially lonely for the most vulnerable. If you know someone who feels emotionally isolated, please reach out with a generosity of self. No one should have to tease death the way this young girl did.
Dr. Gilda Carle (Ph.D.), psychotherapist and relationship expert, is called the “Country Music Doctor.” She therapeutically applies Country Music to guide people out of their pain. Her best-selling book, “Don’t Bet on the Prince!” was a test question on “JEOPARDY!” For more information, visit www.DrGilda.com