Why Suicide Is A Universal Tragedy That We Can All Take A Part In Preventing
Death is something all of us will face one day. Although it's a universal fate, it's still a heavy subject that we continue to have a hard time discussing or grappling with.
Suicide, on the other hand, is one of those topics that we as a society tend to avoid until it's too late. The conversation is usually had after the act is done and those left behind are left trying to understand why this person decided to end it all. The thing is, it's something a lot of people will never fully comprehend unless they've been tempted to jump off the ledge themselves.
Whether it's an isolated incident that causes one to commit suicide or a life plagued with depression and mental illness, the only person who has any kind of answer is the one whose life has ended. After reading all the comments about the death of professional BMX rider, David Mirra, and Black Lives Matter activist, Marshawn McCarrel, the discussion seems to remain the same.
“How did their loved ones not know they were suffering?” “Were there any warning signs?” “What were they possibly going through?” These questions will always linger.
As someone who deals with severe clinical depression and survived a suicide attempt, I can personally tell you there are no clear answers. There isn't one isolated incident that led me into that emergency room, or a specific person who triggered it.
It was a culmination of things and my inability to cope. Until this day, I still can't answer that simple question of, “Why?” All I can say is in that moment, and during the several suicidal episodes I've had after, I was desperate for the pain to stop. I was tired of hurting.
It's been six months since that incident, and I'm still in the up and down stages of my mental health. It seems never-ending at times with a constant cycle of bad days outweighing my good ones.
The scary thing about surviving a suicide attempt is the little shadow that follows you and tries to convince you to finally jump off that ledge. Life can be a dark and difficult place, but for the hopeless mind, it's an unbearable pain where death can seem like the only way out.
The mentality of the suicidal can be so extreme and carefully hidden that common warning signs aren't present. Just because someone survives or is getting help, that suicidal mentality doesn't magically disappear. When things are seemingly well, that shadow hides in a dark corner of the mind.
And when things begin to fall apart and unravel, that shadow comes out and has the power to consume everything. Anything from a difficult task at work to a small argument with someone can easily be the thing that pulls the final trigger.
To Those Suffering From Suicidal Thoughts:
Please know you're not alone. It's a constant struggle that many of us will deal with for the rest of our lives, but try to find that one thing to hang on to. Whether it's a loved one, music or an event to look forward to, just keep hanging on.
And if that event passes, or that song loses its magic, find another one to latch on to. Find something that remotely gives you joy. For me, that thing is vinyl collecting. As much as the days seem bleak, I always think of that one record I have yet to collect or listen to, or that one band I still have to see in concert before I die.
In circumstances like these, the little things are what get me through the night. Find it, even if it seems so small in the grand scheme of things. I know it's difficult when you have so many articles on “having it all” or “accomplishing your goals” and all these different social media platforms displaying perfect lives, but try.
Our struggles are different. Instead of wondering what our next career move will be or what classes to take, our internal struggle is whether or not to live. Don't compare yourself to anyone. Your battle and your life is your own.
I know suicidal thinking is a difficult thing to talk about, but there's someone there willing to listen. Whether it's a stranger or a loved one, someone has felt the same pain you feel.
It's hard, but reach out to someone. Don't ever feel ashamed for feeling the way you do. Your pain and emotions are real, despite what anyone says. Your pain matters, your feelings matter and you matter.
To Everyone Else:
Always remember to be kind. You don't know what someone is going through. It's so easy to get caught up with the day-to-day life, but if someone reaches out to you, listen. Not everyone is open about his or her struggles or pain, but try to be there.
There have been many instances when I have randomly reached out to people, hoping to talk to them. It wasn't always to vent, but more so to feel another person's presence. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to last the night; it's the simple notion that that person no longer feels alone. Be that person.
Just because someone seems happy and put together doesn't always mean he or she is. Despite the awareness that mental health has received in the past few years, there's still a stigma attached to it.
Although I'm very open about my struggles, it still remains a secret within certain aspects of my life, such as my workplace. A lot of it has to do with a fear of my co-workers and bosses viewing me as a liability or incapable of taking on certain tasks.
There have been certain days where I've had trouble focusing, blaming it on exhaustion when in all honesty, my medication decided to act up that day. The time I was hospitalized due to overdose, I vaguely told them I was in an accident.
I hope this won't always be the case. I hope that one day mental illness will be accepted and understood just like any other illness is. Until then, we'll continue to wear a fake smile and laugh a fake laugh.
Always remember the power that words have, good or bad. You never know who's really hurting inside. Also, try your best to understand what someone is going through. And if you can't, a simple “I'm here for you” can be all that one needs to hear.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 15.7 million adults in the US have suffered from at least one major depressive episode in 2014. And according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there are about 117 suicides per day.
There is a very high chance that you know someone who is struggling. Mental health and suicide is prevalent in all societies. It does not discriminate or target a certain kind of person.
Although death is inevitable, suicide is not. To the person who is hurting, I won't tell you any of the clichéd things I hate hearing myself. Just know that your pain matters, and there's someone there who wants to help you. It's a battle that we're all fighting together. You're not alone.
And to those who know someone who is suffering, your presence matters. Even though at times it may not seem like it, your words have helped me and countless others off that ledge.
This article was originally published on the author's personal blog.