Suicide from a Different Perspective
Today I gained a new perspective on the mind of a person who chooses suicide. It came from a journalist who was also a friend of Anthony Bourdain’s, and shared a mindset with the chef many of us can’t relate to, but I suspect, far more understand better than they’ll admit. Because, well, suicide is a sin, right? It’s wrong, it’s selfish, it’s a cruel thing to….well, you get the picture. It’s a whole lot of BS that’s been flung around for so long, a large segment of the population believes it without question.
The article was published in the Observer by an essayist who goes by the pseudonym Film Crit Hulk. He writes for a number of well-known publications, though most of his work fits the pseudonym. The piece he wrote for the Observer was a deviation from the norm.
Like me, he is attempting to clear the nonsense and stigma surrounding suicide, but from the perspective of someone who carries the thought with him pretty much constantly. It never occurred to me until I read his article that things like depression, terminal illness, addiction, or mental illness are, for some people secondary if they even exist at all. Instead, he theorizes it is a glitch in our coping mechanism which is “installed” after we suffer a trauma. Some people get the ability to cope interlaced with what I can only guess is a desensitization to the idea of ending their own life.
Interestingly, he refers to suicide as “that which must not be named”. I often use similar phrasing as my own poke at the masses who judge without any attempt at understanding. He also mentions something else I’ve professed to for a long time, but what most people don’t want to hear. Suicide Hotlines are only good to a point. If the person is unable to find support or to afford long-term treatment to get to the root of the problem, nothing and nobody is going to stop them from taking their life in the fraction of time when it all becomes too much, and suicide is, to them, the better option.
Yes, You Can Help
Once he finishes explaining how people actually fight the urge to take their lives, sometimes for years, sometimes not, we once again agree on the things we can do.
First and foremost is to stop freaking out at the mere mention of the word. I’m not saying desensitize yourself, but for heaven’s sake, don’t get squeamish or try to run away from the word, or brush it off like it was a mistake or something. Acknowledge it. Accept that it’s real. Realize it is often embedded in the coping mechanisms developed after experiencing a trauma.
Even more important is understanding what happens in another person’s life; whether or not they reach a point where they choose suicide, has nothing to do with anyone else. Not you, not their spouse, their parents, their kids, their boss…it’s a choice, as I’ve said a zillion times, they make for themselves and by themselves. If one more person makes the lame ass comment about how they should have thought about how it would affect their family and friends, I swear, I’m going to reach through the computer and backhand them. The only thing they care about when they pull the trigger, swallow the pills, or whatever method they choose is ending their own pain. Period.
Again, Hulk and I agree on the only real solution, understanding it isn’t a guarantee they’ll live out their life until they meet their end through accident or natural causes. And yes, it’s the C word again. We have to be the ones to reach out when we notice someone is spending an excessive amount of time alone, or if they seem even the slightest bit off and show some compassion.
No One Wants to be Told They’re Broken
This is where I am starting to get why my mom went ballistic. My aunt and others believed the way to help her was to tell her she needed therapy. If you ask me, that’s about as sensitive as telling someone who just miscarried that it was “God’s Will”. I don’t think anyone wants to hear someone tell them they think they’re nuts. I may well be a few ticks off of normal, but unless you’re joking, and I know you’re joking, I’d suggest a less offensive approach.
Suggest a lunch date, or coffee, or a walk in the park. Something normal. In short, be a friend. Pay attention to them. Listen when they want to talk, and don’t feel you need to fill the silence when they don’t. Your company means more to them than you realize.
The Sucky Side of Being an Empath
It comes as no surprise to me to learn Anthony Bourdain was an Empath. The subject of depression and suicide comes up in Empath support groups more often than you might imagine. Why? Because in addition to our own demons who conduct regular games of tag in our brains, we get to take on other peoples’ demons too. How’s that for a dubious gift? Being in crowds is tough, but being in crowds where there’s anger, misery, or any mix of confusion and negativity is downright painful for an Empath. I’ve learned to limit my exposure to people who are drinking heavily as the filters on their emotions erode, the more they self-medicate.
Someone in Your Life Considered Suicide
In the many discussions which ensued both from the two high-profile suicides and my outspokenness on the subject, I learned there are people I hold dear who have, at some point in their lives, seriously considered suicide. After reading the Hulk’s article, I can understand how they might have reached that point. Their lives were no bed of roses, and there were traumas along the way. They learned to put on a face for the world that hid their pain. They made it from one day to the next, raising kids, working at jobs, taking care of homes, pets, and even aging parents without a word of complaint. They couldn’t and wouldn’t share the cesspool of emotions boiling underneath their public face.
But I can only relate to a point. Yes, there’s been a time or two when I seriously wondered if anyone would miss me if I ended it. I’ve felt sorry for myself more often than I can actually justify now. But I have never reached the point where all the reasons not to are slipping away, and I’m fighting to push them back. So to say I truly understand where Anthony, Hulk, and others like them have been would be insulting to them.
Being Conscious of People Who Claim They Like Being Alone
I know what it feels like to be alone, but I also realize I put myself there. I’m learning I can reach out just as easily as I can hunker down in my house with the blinds shut and the cats piled on top of me while I watch something mindless on TV. And I’m doing it more and more. But some people can’t reach out. They need us to do it for them.
I can hear the arguments as I’ve used some of them myself. “They’re too busy with their families.” “They have their own group of friends they hang out with. They won’t want to do something with me.” “I don’t make friends easily. I’m off-putting.”. There are more, but I won’t waste your time with whining or words I know aren’t true. We all have our own litany, if we are inclined to spend a lot of time alone, if not physically, in our own minds. Knowing there are people in all of our lives who would benefit from someone making a lunch or coffee date is the real key to slowing down the rising numbers of suicide deaths.
I’m not naive enough to believe it is the only solution, nor that it will end suicide deaths completely, but I’m reminded of the story of the child throwing starfish back into the sea. We can’t save them all, but isn’t it worth our while to save as many as we can? Or at least do what we can to make their lives more pleasant until the time they can’t hold on any longer?
Gratitude: My Regular Fallback
My gratitudes today are:
- I am grateful for all the people who are doing what they can to raise awareness about suicide.
- I am grateful for my own hard-wiring which always seems to find a reason to keep going.
- I am grateful I’m an Empath, even if the cost is, at times, quite high.
- I am grateful for the Conscious ones in my life. Even when they’re sad, lonely, depressed, angry, or otherwise emotional, the emotions they spew forth are always laced with love, acceptance, and Being.
- I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, commonality, movie buddies, extracurricular activities, opportunities, books, dreams, new doors opening, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author