This one was tough to put into words, even more so in writing.
You know, I’m glad that people are shocked and motivated to raise awareness about suicide since the passing of Anthony Bordain, and Kate Spade. Similar concerns erupted around Robin Williams suicide a few years ago too. But unfortunately, it’s very likely that these concerns will have to get voiced again, and again, since this problem isn’t going away anytime soon.
Awareness is a good thing, but in and of itself, it’s not very practical. Compassion, and awareness need to be paired with action to show their real effectiveness. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying awareness is useless. I mean, it sure beats some of our other bright ideas, like ‘life’s a beach’ T-shirts, truck balls, and Budweiser mirrors, but it is only awareness after all.
Suicidal ideations don’t usually just come out of nowhere. Usually those kinds of thoughts are like an old friend that has quietly whispered never ending doubts into your ear for many years. And it’s not usually a threatening voice either. In fact, to the some sufferers it’s a very reassuring one, because it’s the only one that offers anything resembling relief, however final it may be. While the idea of suicide may seem a tad drastic at first, with constant nudging from that voice, it begins to lose that feeling of being such an “extreme act”.
It should be universally understood that someone is no longer functioning normally when they are willing to conclude that everyone they care about (and who cares about them) would be better off if they were no longer alive. It should be, but it isn’t. Instead, people confuse depression with sadness, in much the same way a very vocal minority confuses climate with weather.
For the sufferer, anything that interferes with their ability to wallow in their own thoughts, gets jettisoned quickly. The passage of time is only relevant to how long it’s been since their last bout. For years the voice has been convincing them how minor their death will be, that everyone is better off, and how it has always been an option. And the more they listen, the more powerful it becomes, just like Hyde did to Dr. Jeckyl.
If you know someone is struggling, you need to reach out to them. Think for a second about how willing you are to reach out when you’re feeling down… a lot of us would just like crawl back to bed, at the very least. So take a few minutes out of your day to talk with them and catch up. Make sure to stay in touch with them, because a huge part of the problem is the almost total inability to ask for help!
If we know someone who might actually need help, we should encourage them to talk to their doctor or seek another form of help. We should keep in touch with them, and follow up. We need more human contact, we’re all beginning to realize how much of that we’ve given up for our phoneputers. And I’m probably guiltier of it than most.
I’d love to wrap this up in a nice bow that tells everyone how we can fix it. Yeah… that’s not how this works. Helping people can be inconvenient sometimes, but we aren’t going to solve some of our more ‘human’ problems without getting right in there and showing that we give a shit.