So. You probably expected I might have something to say after the latest rash of celebrity suicides.
Hotlines, chats, even Facebook has prevention tools that are supposed to help reach out to those that might be contemplating ending their lives. These resources are great and I am so grateful to the people that man those hotlines — goodness the strength it takes to man those phones. (Aside: I worked as an insurance CSR and got a suicide call. They happen. We aren’t trained for them, not really. But my psychology degree and Priestess/pastoral training kicked in and I was able to do the right work while the supervisors worked to get the police in the town to do a welfare check on the person. I never did find out whether or not he lived through his attempt.)
My point, however, is that people deep in the throes of a suicide attempt don’t reach out. I’ve said (written) this before. We don’t. I didn’t. I was in therapy, on medication, and wasn’t even having suicidal ideation. (I’m not really going to talk about my attempt — I’ve written about it before. You can find it elsewhere). So often people are already in therapy and doing all the “right things”, taking their meds, and still struggling. YOU have to reach out to THEM.
- And even if and when you do — they still might do it.
It’s not your fault. You didn’t fail them if they succeed and kill themselves after you tried to stop them.
- It’s not your decision. It’s theirs.
I know I’m going in a different direction on this than a lot of folks. I think I have a different perspective because I’ve quite literally been there, done that, and have lived to tell about it. Suicide is HARD to do correctly that’s for damned sure. I’m still here so I did it WRONG….*y’all don’t worry, I’m good. Not in any danger.* People who are doing “all the things” and still struggling, when they make the decision to end it — most of the time they’ve really thought things through and gotten their shit together to do it and how. They’ve been thinking about it for a long time, how they’re going to do it, and finally the right time presents itself and it’s done. They are not going to call a hotline or friend for help. They’re just not. I didn’t. (OK. For honesty’s sake, I had a moment there when I thought “hey, maybe I should try to stop this train” but it was really fleeting. I still wasn’t going to call anyone. I was on the ride I chose.) That fleeting moment…if they manage to climb out of the abyss long enough to breathe…they might make the call. But so often, we don’t. The abyss’s hold is strong.
Is it selfish? You’re damned right it is. No one knows the internal struggle a person is going through – heck, even the therapist likely doesn’t know 100% what’s really happening because so often we can’t put it into words. Depression lies. It tricks even the person suffering into thinking we’re OK until all of a sudden, we’re not.
So now we’ve had two celebrity suicides. The media is going to talk about them with reverence and the spotlight will again be on mental illness and people will say, “Oh, we need to treat depression and mental illness like any other illness and End the Stigma™. ” That’ll last for a few weeks until the next big story and it’s forgotten. But suicides happen every day by non-famous people, and I’m going to hazard a guess that the rise in suicide in the US is going to up due to the crazy and toxic political climate. It’s terrifying, especially for marginalized communities.
And for those left behind? It’s not your fault even if you reached out and tried to help. But YOU have to reach out. YOU HAVE TO REACH OUT. YOU.
And if you’re struggling yourself I know it’s hard. It’s so hard. Keep trying. Keep going. Gods, I know it’s hard. All that stuff I wrote above is for those other people that post trite “oh my god, Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, boo hoo, they had everything!!” crap. Depression lies. Keep fighting, keep going just a little longer…and then a little longer than that. I’m here. I AM HERE for YOU. FOR YOU. Talk to me: My Facebook My Twitter