I’m going to tip things up with this idea too – the people who should be best at this – who should be reaching back in again where there’s a need – are those of us who deal with mental illness every day. We have had these conversations with psychiatrists and therapists and nurses down the years. We have a language of mental suffering that we’re used to using and feel comfortable with. We’re used to professionals reaching back in to our distress. We can start to bring that gift to the people around us. We can start the conversation. There’s no separation between ‘diagnosis’ and ‘no diagnosis’ when it comes to the mental pain that kills people. (ELLE)
I’ve spoken about suicide on here before (See above link). I think the statement above from Elle’s most recent blog is one of the most pertinent I’ve encountered on the subject and 100% correct. Just yesterday a close friend told me they’d just started a course of antidepressants. I was really glad he felt he could just drop that into the general chit chat we were having. I think I was able to offer some good advice and insight on what he was experiencing. So when Elle wrote that today it really helped compound the idea that those who have experienced have much to offer the world.
I discovered the news of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide via a Facebook post by Canadian comedian Simon King. I’ve only worked with Simon a few times but he is a craftsman of comedy I deeply respect. Simon is the sort of comedian who will explore socio-political subject because he’s passionate about such stuff. (I suppose like me although I can be more of a corporate schill) He said this about the subject recently.
“I don’t know any serious socially or politically message driven comic who wants to be “edgy” for the sake of it. You talk about the things you’re passionate about.”
Simon isn’t afraid to be vocal on social media. We’ve even had a dust up about something one night when I’d had a gin to many. Next day I was relieved we could get past that and see we’re kind of similar types being our typical selves.
As always Simon posted his usual humane and fiery words when he heard of Anthony Bourdain. Here’s what he said.
“Suicide isn’t selfish. It’s desperation. Goddamn the motherfuckers who just don’t get that and go about spreading their hateful ignorant shit. Be glad you’ve never stood on that edge and maybe have a little fucking human empathy for those that have.”
I responded with some fiery words too. I’ll leave them where they were. But suddenly my thoughts were back on that day when I’d felt suicidal and I wrote this in my notepad.
“The loneliest place in the world…It’s strange but the memory and image that persists of that day, the one that stays with me, is of looking up at wet rooftops. It had been raining heavily. I suppose the rain added to the general ambience. I remember thinking to myself, ‘I’ll never see wet rooftops again.’ You see when you’re staring into the abyss it really is the little things.”
So that was the thought that came to me. The real reason I’m writing about Simon’s post is it got a remarkable response from people online. People being open and sharing their thoughts about the subject. It reminded me again that you need never be alone when dealing with this most difficult of situations. I’m going to post a few of those responses here. For the sake of anonymity I’m not going to put the peoples names. Instead I’m going to call them all Andy. Andy was a great friend of our community who took his own life. I’ll think of his memory when reading the experiences of others.
Someone kindly also posted a bunch of screenshots on Elle’s blog on Facebook about helplines you can contact if needed. I’ll post them at the end of these comments too.
“So a big reason we need to avoid the word selfish as well is because people suffering depression and suicidal thoughts already feel down on themselves. I agree that survivors are hurt by it, but continuing to use this word, even though it doesn’t harm the deceased, does still affect someone out there who is currently suicidal. So the thought pattern would look like: I hate myself. People think feeling this way is selfish and suicide is selfish. Now I hate myself more because I’m selfish and maybe my feelings are a burden so I’ll keep them locked away. Now I want to kill myself even more because of this. Speaking from personal experience.”
“For some people, life is a sentence that they serve for the sake of the people who love them. Not everyone can make that sacrifice every day. They deserve our compassion, not our derision.”
“Suicide scares people, and fear makes people hateful and resentful. My entire life has been around my dad’s suicide, I’ve seen every expression possible when sharing it with others. Horror, disgust, fear…I’ve had boyfriends leave when they found out, I’ve had partners parents not know how to refer to my childhood, sometimes I think it’s better to carry a kitten in my purse to pull out and punch in the face in front of a person rather than telling them and dealing with their ignorance on the subject.”
“Wow, Simon, what an incredible group of friends you have. I don’t know you people, but I’m so moved by your strength and sensitivity in the face of all that life on this planet brings us. Your courage to be real and connect with others about such a difficult thing is inspiring and building connections that we all need. Kudos. I hope in this day you each find a moment of beauty that brings you some joy and keeps you going.”
“I am here for anyone who needs to reach out.”
“I’ve been dealing with depression and suicidal tendencies for 22 years now. Because I’ve been dealing with it so long it’s not a big thing for me to talk about it. Seriously pisses me off when people say I can’t be suicidal because if I was I wouldn’t talk about it. I mean it’s been a long time since I’ve tried to off myself, but I think about ways to do it almost daily.”