*TW: Suicide and mental health are discussed in this post.
The problem and the beauty of humanity is that we all have different experiences, different opinions and different senses of humor. We’re all so unique and individual while at the same time so similar and familial.
It’s time for me to take another stand.
I’m tired of seeing suicide joked about by those who don’t understand it, haven’t gone through it or who I mistake for not having gone through it when they have. Some people don’t hold the same opinions as I do, shocking, I know. So I only speak for myself here, to offer one thought amongst the many that are being written and spoken.
I don’t smile when I hear someone say someone else “committed” suicide.
I don’t smile when I see someone wrote that X or Y thing or person is “crazy”.
I don’t laugh when someone doesn’t take another suicidal remark seriously–wherever that remark occurs (in real life and online).
I don’t laugh when someone misuses a mental health issue as some butt end of a joke or statement that when knowing what the actual term MEANS in reality, makes absolutely no sense in the joke itself. I.e. “The weather’s been so bipolar” Actually, no, bipolar disorder is NOT what you think it means. And now you just look like an idiot, perpetuating stigma about mental health issues and showing how ignorant you really are.
I’m tired of people tossing around the term “Ohmygerd, that is soooo OCD”. Like, no. Stop. Your idiocy is showing in remarkably HIGH levels.
Now, maybe I’m just a sensitive idiot, fine, I’ll go by that. But it’s 2016 for god’s sake and it’s time we ALL start changing as a SOCIETY. Not just in America, in every place in the world. I know, it’s a high feat, but it’s a battle worth spreading. Why?
Because people are dying every day by suicide.
Yeah, people die every day. But suicide? That can be preventable.
We can’t always stop cancer from spreading, or radiation from taking over the sky, or a cough and its viral particles landing in our soup. I don’t even believe we can stop ALL suicides, but I know damn well that we can try and help to save someone else from themselves. Because one life we save may change the ripple effect of the rest of our experiences.
Imagine how things could have been different if some of our most important historical figures had made just one different decision. What if things hadn’t gone the way they did, what if one small decision could have changed the fabric of this reality that we know and live in right now?
Life is beautiful and it is precious. It’s also a major bitch, but we’re here anyway, so we might as well have the best time of it that we can.
You do NOT have to die by suicide. You CAN choose a different path. You ARE strong, you ARE worthy and you CAN recover. It does not have to end this way. You ARE important, you are a SURVIVOR and you may be the very reason someone else is alive today–or you could be for someone you have yet to meet in the very future.
If I had died by suicide, I wouldn’t be able to speak to you all right now. I wouldn’t have made the new artwork that I did, I wouldn’t be making the new friends that I am through this community, and I disclose that because it’s IMPORTANT.
We all have to take suicide and mental health issues more seriously. No, your handbag is NOT OCD, your wardrobe isn’t bipolar, your dog isn’t ‘crazy’.
People who suffer from mental health issues are PEOPLE. God knows, animals who also suffer from mental health issues are still animals.
Not even someone who is out of reality, is ‘crazy’. They’re ill. There IS a significant difference.
You or your friend or your family member or your fellow stranger–they are living with a medical condition that affects their brains. It EXISTS, other people EXIST with it TOO and it doesn’t make them weak for having it. In fact, having to deal with any mental health or physical health condition makes a person a whole lot stronger, keeping up with life’s shitty hands they were dealt with and living their lives despite it.
What’s my point in all this? It’s okay to ask, I forgot it, too.
My point is that suicide and mental health issues are not jokes. Some people can laugh at a joke about suicide–maybe they’ve gone through it themselves, maybe they laugh because it feels true to them, maybe they laugh for a hundred other reasons. And, some people don’t laugh. Some people get triggered-and no, Internet, that doesn’t mean what you think it means. Some people deal with flashbacks to their darkest days of considering suicide, some people have lost someone they knew to suicide or by suicide in the manner that you’re joking about, some people have contemplated suicide in that manner or are now thinking of it based on that ‘joke’ you mentioned for a fraction of a second.
We don’t know what each other is going through. We all have our struggles. Does this mean we should never joke about anything ever?
No. Humor can be a helpful tool in recovery for those who have struggled. It’s often actually that people who can joke about mental health issues or suicide have struggled with it themselves. It may be a way of confessing their inner demons, of trying to relate to someone else, of talking about such a dark subject in a humorous manner. It may be a way of healing, and their way of healing may likely not be the way you heal.
Does that mean your reaction isn’t valid? No. Your emotional reaction is your emotional reaction. That experience is yours and yours alone. We can’t exactly argue with other people about what they really think or feel, because only they truly know for themselves.
My issue is less with people who joke about suicide or mental health issues knowingly–but with the people who joke about these topics withOUT knowing what it is like to deal with them. And, honestly, we can often tell pretty well–because you sound uneducated, like a plain idiot and you perpetuate stigmatization rather than opening a discussion about these serious topics. You make it sound petty and flippant without having experienced it yourself or known others who have.
Or maybe you’re just an Asshole. They exist, too.
This post is more a flow of consciousness than a succinct, understandable argument. But one point of mine led to another and then another. And still, it feels unfinished. If you’ve made it this far, I encourage you to read on until the end.
Suicide by mental health issues and by non-mental health related issues is preventable. When we lose someone to suicide, it is a tragic loss. Who knows what that person could have done with their lives had they been able to live another day. Many mental illnesses are treatable and recovery is very often possible and able to be experienced. Even the most hopeless person can find their way to recovery with enough hard work, effort and hope and a good leap of faith.
So much of our society is scared or uncomfortable talking about suicide and mental health. Suicide IS a scary topic. To find out someone you love is thinking about ending their lives is frightening. Why? Because that’s someone you love and care about. That’s someone you want to see live a happy life and go on to fulfill their dreams and have a positive brightness to the world around them. That’s someone you know–or it’s someone you don’t know. But it’s someone you COULD know if they stay alive, rather than if they wind up dead.
But society gets complicated–with laws, with religion, with the government, with stigma, with treating people as people. Unfortunately, it may be like this for a while. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth putting each and every effort into the world to make it a better, safer place.
Suicide is scary because we have to confront the fact that other people may not be experiencing life the same way we are–or worse, exactly in the same way we are. Suicide is scary because it forces us to face the fact that we cannot and will not be able to control the actions of another person. That IS truly frightening. If we don’t have control, what do we have?
We still have empowerment, the tools of recovery, the positive coping strategies, the warmth love and support of a fellow human being, the ability to listen in a nonjudgmental way.
So you don’t know how to approach someone who is struggling with suicidal ideation? Read up on it. Google it. Search for the answers that are out there. Search for the blogs that talk about it, that shed light onto such a dark and lonely experience. Dare to be open and dare to be willing to learn about it.
Dare to talk about suicide. Dare to talk about mental health issues.
Every time we educate ourselves and those around us, we spread a new ripple into the ripples of the past. Things change by what we DO–or, what we don’t do.
When you feel safe, secure and ready to do so, speak out about suicide and mental health. You may want to tread more carefully online, but if you find something concerning talk to the person about it. They may or may not be willing to talk about it, respect that unless you feel they are truly unsafe in their current state.
If joking about suicide is a way for you to express how dire your situation is, I suggest you keep doing it. I also suggest for those around you to learn how to approach you about the subject–by asking you about it abruptly, saying the words “Are you suicidal?”
Talking about it is better than not talking about it.
We lose too many people day by day to the silence wrapped around suicide and mental health issues like a glove. It’s about time we start cutting off the threads of that glove. It’s time we start lighting up our candles and our lighthouses and open our mouths to talk about these important, potentially life or death (or high injury) topics.
People don’t die by talking about suicide. People DO die by not talking about suicide.
Sometimes the only way I could communicate my distress was to make a joke about suicide, about wanting to kill myself. More than 90% of people laughed at my joke. Only a small handful ever questioned my sincerity.
Please. If someone is openly (or not so openly but you are noticing signs and symptoms) talking about suicide, ask them if they are suicidal, if they have a plan, if they have intent. And get them the help that they need.
They may be angry with you, but an angry person is better than a dead person. A dead person who, with enough time, could have saved themselves.
Remember, someone who is mentally ill, is just that: dealing with a sickness. Just like your common cold, your hepatitis, your cancer. No one chooses to have a mental illness. We don’t go to the grocery store called life and decide to choose to have depression or schizophrenia. It just happens to us-by whatever means. It’s up to us how we deal with it and what responsibility we take a hold of our lives.
Before you say something flippant about suicide-think for a moment who might be listening. Consider the impact of your words, because words ARE powerful. They can both free us and damage us. And we don’t know exactly who may be affected by such syllables.
Stay safe. ❤ ❤ ❤