Disclosure: Sensitive content about suicide, read at your own discretion.
I may not have anything smart to say about suicide, as awful a thing as it can be, the tributes coming in too late, as if only if that outpour of support and love was there before, maybe, just maybe, something would have gone different. I will not condemn suicide. For many suffering, and suffering silently, it is a release and seemingly the only way out.
I personally did not watch 13 Reasons Why, as I feared triggers in myself and the glorification of suicide which came true when a teenager jumped off a balcony and, mimicking the show, left tapes behind, later dying in hospital. I think the conversation this brings up is an important one. We need to speak up, the onus is quite literally on us, as individuals, and a community, as a world, to de-stigmatize the talk around ending one’s own life.
I have a hard time with the legalization of assisted suicide in Canada, especially for the mental health community as we are some of the most vulnerable. Even with all the resources available, there is not enough help. We can’t really say that Chester Bennington’s life ended “too soon” or in “tragedy” because he obviously felt it was the time and maybe dying was the end of his tragedy, and to say otherwise would be disrespectful. This just goes to show we never know what someone is going through, with reports of him explicitly stating he was happy in the months leading up to the singer taking his own life.
I had a friend joke to me about suicide and I asked if she was okay. She laughed it off. I shrugged it off. I listened to an advice podcast that evening about someone joking about suicide at school and being sentenced to counselling and suicide prevention services. They were trying to get out of them stating “it was only a joke”. The hosts of the podcast suggested they go through with the services as “joking” about suicide can be one of the first signs that people are really considering it and if they weren’t actually considering it, this would teach them their lesson to not take the subject so lightly.
After hearing this, I went to my friend and I told her I was worried about her. She made me swear not to tell anyone, including officials and authority. As someone who is terrified myself of ending back up at the psych ward, somewhere where these issues of self-hate and depression often get worse, I understood that she didn’t want to end up back there and I listened. I tried to urge her into some sort of therapy but she got mad at me. I was just looking out for her and her denial, resistance, and lashing out against help only made me more and more suspicious. My intentions are good and my goal is to only ever do my utmost to support her.
You never know how someone really feels. We are all good at putting up walls and façades. I wish I had some sage advice. I guess from my own experience — before being diagnosed with a mental health disorder — holding my breath in the bathtub until I got scared of being underwater, strangling myself with my Pashmina, threatening to jump off my second floor balcony and pulling my hair out, all ten years ago now… I was begging for someone, my partner, my friends, my family, teachers, counsellors, to take my cries for help seriously.
There is stigma around medicating, over-medicating, and medicating the young. If it wasn’t for an overdose on pain killers and muscle relaxants I never would have been diagnosed with a mental health issue, and never would have received the help I needed including therapy and antidepressants at 18 years old. Even then, it took time to get the right diagnosis and the right combination of medication for me to feel comfortable, and there were forsure setbacks along the way.
Take the time to get opinions. Reach out. Do research. Wait out the right result. There is always help, it is not always accessible or in the ways that we need it, or in the timeline that we want it, but if you just have patience, perseverance, and determination, I am confident there is a good possibility that your situation will get better.
And as for Chester? This isn’t to say he didn’t do everything right: get the professionals help, the support from family and friends and fans, the emotional searching. Maybe he did all that, and that’s why we have to bring more attention to the issue of suicide.
Because it’s clearly not enough.