There are so many important caveats to put here before there’s any more scrolling.
To begin: a trigger warning, which while many believe is overused and doesn’t matter, to others triggers exist, hell to even some just the word “trigger” is triggering. It is important for me to put this here because reading about suicide for myself and for others brings up a hard darkness because you have felt the tremors of suicide through loss or through your own mind. So if reading about suicide takes you to a place that is unsafe, that normalizes, that gives permission, that wrecks you, please stop here. Please go and learn more about the raccoon that scaled a sky scraper. Please care for yourself.
Secondly, I am not an expert. I can only speak to my experiences and to the experiences that have been shared with me. Finding company in the broken can be so helpful but it can also lead to misinformation or misguidance. Please read anything further as one person’s perspective and experience, not as advice, not as treatment.
Finally, know that per the title, per my general way of dealing with my own feelings, I make jokes to express hardship, please see the title of this post, I do not want to trivialize suicide or suicidal thoughts. I approach almost every feeling that I have with 2 parts self deprecation, 1 part puns, and 1 part bad jokes. It just helps the medicine go down. (See it is already happening and I’m sorry but you were warned so if you’re still reading then it’s on you.)
I’ve been formulating what to say and how to say it and my friend Christina posted a blog that really encapsulated so many of my feelings throughout the last few years. Also, another friend, Alyssa, posted a twitter thread about her own experience after her father’s suicide. And recently we learned that Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade were victims of suicide.
I distinctly remember when I first learned that people don’t normally think about killing themselves. I was with two friends and we were driving a golf cart around a secluded island where the deer feel comfortable enough to eat ice out of the palm of your hand. I mentioned a question I asked of myself often, if you were going to kill yourself how would you do it. My friends both looked at me and said are you okay? And I said that I was but that I thought everyone thought about suicide and knew how they would do it.
That year had been distinctly bad. My parents got divorce, I was in a relationship that was falling apart, I was hating every second of law school and being in Columbia. But thinking about suicide was not new to me and not a result of this bad year.
When I realized that other people don’t think about driving off the interstate into a tree every time they drive, only to be stopped (like Christina says) because Bruno Mars just came on the radio and how embarrassing would it be to die to one of his horrific songs, I started to question just how “okay” I actually was.
That bad year segue wayed into another bad year. My relationship fell apart, I never seemed to have enough money, I still hated everything about law school, and my depression had gotten to a point where the only time I left my house was to go to Jamie’s house or Cait’s house. I felt myself spiraling out of control and felt myself wanting to just go along for the ride. I never attempted suicide but I did feel like it was forthcoming and that that was where my spiral was headed. I didn’t talk about it with people until it started to scare me. I told Jamie, I told Brett, and they got me to talk to the Student Advisor at school because of how many classes I had missed and my fear of being failed out.
I was more diligent in taking my antidepressants and in catching wayward thoughts that could easily lead me into that spiral. I was lucky that I had friends who knew that I was sharp and that I was spiraling. I was lucky that I had friends who not only asked about what was going on but made me take action to get help.
I remember before all of this happened, before I knew that suicidal thoughts weren’t normal, I remember when Robin Williams became a victim of suicide. I remember crying because I was so sad that he had made so many people happy but couldn’t find that happiness within his own life. I cried because he couldn’t make himself happy.
I know now that suicide isn’t about happiness or sadness but about lonesomeness. Suicidal thoughts and actions creep in when we melt into our own loneliness, even in a room of people.
Asking people to call a hotline, to reach out to a friend, to do anything when they have melted into the spiral is almost impossible. We need to be active friends and not shy away from touchy subjects. Ask the hard questions and be relentless. If you are worried about someone, about their ideations, about their spiral, ask to help. Demand to help. People experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts are full on their own loneliness and walled in by their spiral. We have to break them out.
People who fall victim to suicide are not selfish, they are broken. They are full on their own parts and loneliness. If you’re reading this know that you are not alone. That it may not be normal to think about suicide, to plan it, to revel in the idea of it, but it will not save you, it cannot save you. If you are reading this, keep the Bruno Mars playing, pass by the tree, throw the hoarded medication in the toilet, do not let yourself spiral. Be honest with others and let them be honest with you.
You are loved and you are necessary and you are enough.