SUICIDE is tricky. I don’t condone it but I definitely don’t condemn it either. I will try really hard not to offend anyone here.
This section contains sensitive content.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide or self-harm and live in North America please contact the services below:
Quebec: 1(866)APPELLE (277-3553)
Elsewhere in Canada, visit: https://suicideprevention.ca/
USA: 1(800)273-TALK (8255)
For those considering it, it can seem like the only way out. I remember in a moment of desperation I felt so completely overwhelmed with feelings of hatred toward myself and this sense of wanting to immediately and permanently excuse myself from anything that could cause me pain ever again that I thought I would kill myself. I googled “suicide” more as a way to weigh my options on how to go about it but was actually bombarded with help-pages, hotlines and suicide prevention websites. I clicked on the first link. In big bold face writing it said:
“IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT”.
I continued down the page and the information being described was that when in a moment of despair or crisis our brain could be physically incapable of creating a positive thought. There was a possibility that it was temporarily impossible to get out of this negative cycle, but it’s not your fault. The most powerful thing that I could have heard at that time was that “THIS WILL PASS”. Feelings and emotions are only temporary, as strong as they may seem, but one thing is absolute, a bad mood, bad day, bad thought, won’t last forever.
I know how hard this is to believe. I’ve had these recurring thoughts since I was twelve or thirteen and when they creep back up I resent not having the gall to have gone through with suicide the previous time but I quickly realize that I got through alive it then, and I would similarly likely get through it alive now. There was a time I sat in my psychiatrist’s office and told him about how everywhere I went all I could think about was all the ways to kill myself that week: step in front of that truck, fall into the metro rail when it’s heading into the station, climb the railroad fence and lay on the tracks, jump off that cell tower. Finding ways I could end my life in a moment was actually comforting to me. All these methods were available most all the time and I didn’t have to do it right here and right now, because surely there would be another opportunity. In some ways it actually probably steered me further away from suicide because I knew this wasn’t my last chance in a while and the option was always there.
Most recently I was very impacted by the suicide of Chester Bennington who I hadn’t paid much attention to in the past fifteen years but after reading articles about how he was so outwardly (seemingly) happy in the time leading up to his death I wondered how anyone could keep secrets that dark. Yes he struggled with substance abuse and maybe issues none of us would have suspected but to learn that he was suffering in such a big way, and so alone, was devastating. I was outraged when a CNN article said he suffered for his art. Quite frankly I think he did a phenomenal job of turning is suffering into art that so many people found comfort and solace in. I hadn’t listened to his music much since I was a rage-filled teenager except for a few throwback listens to his band’s most popular songs on some emotional-release running sessions during some particularly intense times through the privacy of my headphones but he so much affected me during such a critical time in my life that even if he who could so succinctly wrap emotional despair into something so beautiful, and have the ability to unite so many people who felt so alone just like him… it just devastates me.
I don’t know that I have anything smart to say about suicide. I know it can seem like the only way out and that somehow having control of when and how we die is easier than the unknown impending mortality, and for those suffering and suffering silently it can be framed in our own minds as a good option. So much of the time in the early days of my undiagnosed mental health disorder I was begging for someone to notice my pain. I wanted so much for someone to recognize in physical and tangible form the emotional turmoil that was going on inside me. Me and my old roommate who was studying psychology used to talk a lot about my experiences with a mental health condition. I remember one night sitting at our kitchen table and talking in-depth about self-harm. I broke down in tears. I told her that I just wanted to match. I didn’t want my baby face and youthful look to appear as if I hadn’t lived through years of psychological angst. I remember full ugly face crying sticking out my right wrist and making a slashing movement with my left hand.
“Do you see now how much this hurts?”
I had asked for help from everywhere. I went to counsellors at my school and told them how horrible I felt and they told me to go for a walk and count the squirrels which I didn’t find all that helpful. I also consulted a friend who had also lost a parent as a teenager. He told me, squarely, he knew exactly what was wrong with me. I was an introvert. I called my aunt that evening anxiously after he left. “Do you think I’m an introvert?” I asked her. Back then there wasn’t this universal network and social understanding of introverts. He said so himself. There was something wrong with me. I literally wanted to die and threatened to jump off the balcony of my second floor apartment. Looking back I probably wouldn’t have done significant damage at that height. Specifically during that time when Facebook took up all my free time with people partying in bars, clubs and limos with girl gangs, guy groups and even celebrities, I was an outcast, a loner, and unlike the normal majority. This word introvert haunted me for years until it became a widespread network of people clarifying that this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Three years ago, roughly, I started to see memes and gifs of introverts at home, under the covers, with snacks and cats, reading books and binge watching Netflix. This was the first time I remember saying “I’m an introvert” and not thinking about it in a derogatory or defamatory way. I used to say it as an explanation for my quiet and reserved nature. I used to think that saying this would give people an adequate explanation or excuse for not being like them and they would let me off the hook. I slowly started to take pride in my time alone and understood that being on my own is where I am at, and preparing for, my best.
Studies show that technology has made the youth unhappier. I wouldn’t give up not having my awkward transitional years all over the internet and the precious days spent outside but I would have loved to have the resources back then that the young have now: body positivity, female activism, twitter aka the international alliance of people everywhere who rejoice in hating everyone and everything but also praise the small things and celebrate the simplest most insignificant victories. What I have realized is that those with unique experiences are vastly more relatable and unifying than any of those who conform and comply with social standards. The most universal are those who have experienced nominal situations and those who feel they stand out are far more the norm than anyone whose priority is blending in.
Logic’s song with the American suicide helpline as its title was nominated at the Grammys for song of the year and I couldn’t say this song could have come at a better time given the immensity of what is going on in today’s world, or rather what has been going on for centuries and is now being exposed for its criminality, absurdity, and human rights violations. We need the most help coping with these many injustices. What a good way to do that by making an easy to consume, catchy tune that targets all kinds of audiences, especially encouraging those who may not otherwise have the outlets to express themselves?
The conversation is relevant. It’s relevant because even in real life when someone decides to go ahead with suicide it brings up stuff in all of us. People we idolize, people we want to be just like are at their tipping point and sometimes break. Sometimes art and news coverage glorifies suicide and its victims. You have to be careful not to fall into a trap of the hype of it all and be aware of your triggers and how there is hope for most to recover. Use these as educational tools to start a conversation and help those who are suffering in the dark come out of it a little brighter, and maybe with the burden off their shoulders, a little lighter too.