José Ramón García owes his life to a dog that is no longer on Earth. To “Lady”, a Yorkshire that followed him to the mountain one of the days that he thought of ending everything. She looked into her eyes, seemed to say “stay.”
And he stayed, brave. José Ramón García is a survivor. He tried to commit suicide three times, three times he decided to live again. He is doing much better now, although he is struggling with a diagnosis of depression and anxiety. He is one of the protagonists of the exhibition “La muerte silenciada”, by photographer Daniel Lovi (Oviedo, 1986). The exhibition, which will open this Friday afternoon (7:00 p.m.) at the Mieres Centru Cultural, presents in images the stories of five residents of Las Cuencas, survivors or who lost a family member by suicide. The project will be completed with an audiovisual documentary, in which fifteen experts participate.
One of them is the psychiatrist Celso Iglesias, director of the Mental Health clinical management area at the Valle del Nalón hospital. It is not surprising, listening to the expert, that Daniel Lovi chose Cuencas to make suicide visible. “The rate is high throughout Asturias. But in the mining regions, although we do not have the latest data, it is usually even higher”.
The reasons are depopulation, aging and the lack of job opportunities in an area that was an economic engine until relatively recently. “It is important to talk about suicide, although with nuances. Always with the care that this issue requires, ”says Iglesias. He considers it essential to eliminate the taboo and end the myths. A fact that may surprise you: close to half of the people who died last year by suicide in the Cuencas had no diagnosis of mental illness.
This is not the case of the septuagenarian José Ramón García. The first time the world turned black to him, he was 10 years old. “That’s when my father died, I started to feel very sad and the ‘noise’ bothered me a lot. But of course, who was he going to tell? He was a gourd, he didn’t know how to explain it and I don’t think they would have listened to me, ”he points out.
He began working in the mine, first in the Santa Bárbara well (Turón) and then in Nicolasa (San Nicolás, Ablaña). He married the woman with whom he has shared almost his entire life: “I hurt for her, for what happens to her. In the end, I think that she suffers more from the environment than us ”. He tried to take his own life three times: “Once a man passed by where I was and we started chatting; the other time was when ‘Lady’ saved me and, the last time, my wife found me”.
Three times he was born again. But what is behind a suicide? Celso Iglesias affirms that, in most cases, “they are people who freely and more or less consciously decide to end their lives. It’s not an impulse, it’s not crazy.” The largest proportion of suicides in the Cuencas, says the psychiatrist, occur among “elderly people, who are sick and who understand that life has no meaning.”
Something similar thought José Ramón García. In a calm voice, he explains that “I don’t know how I got to that point. I know that I saw myself as in a very dark tunnel, into which no light entered.” After the last attempt, he continued with the treatment and began to go to the Association of Relatives and Mental Illness of Asturias (AFESA): “My colleagues and the people who take care of us are wonderful, they have changed my life.”
If he doesn’t leave the house, he stays in the dark with the blinds down. But she does it less and less each time: “On Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays I go to AFESA. I even give a basketry workshop with students who are learning a lot”. He has been doing very well for a while now, and he expects his medication to be reduced in the coming weeks.
Isn’t it hard for you to talk about what happened?
-No. Because, even if we don’t believe it, we can all get there. That’s why you have to talk about it, that’s why you have to ask for help.
To those who now sit in the dark, he asks just to come forward. “The first step is the most difficult. Then you start treatment, therapy… whatever helps you. You can get out, in fact, you should get out of there ”. When asked for the greatest reason to live, she presses one hand against the other. He closes his eyes for a moment: “Look, many… All. What there is not, are reasons not to live”.