TRIGGER WARNING: Discussion of suicidal ideation, attempt, and completion.
If you are struggling with suicide, call The Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. A trained counselor will be on the other end to assist you immediately.
I know I don't have the proper words to explain what goes through one's head when they decide that death is their only way out. The few times I've found myself at that point - dog leash hanging from the pipes in my apartment with a slip knot around my neck, 27 grams of prescription drugs laid out before me - I have been able to grasp onto one last semblance of reality before it was too late. It can be as innocent as noticing a gift someone gave you lying on the table or as impactful as stumbling across a poem that tells you to live, but there is a rush of adrenaline that tells your body and soul to keep holding on.
We have evolved for the survival of our species...and as far as species go, humans have done a pretty good job of managing to keep it together. Why, then, does it seem that we are losing so many sweet souls to their own hands? The people we always said "Hi" to walking to class, or the ones who always made you laugh every time they spoke seem to be the ones that get away from us when we least expect it.
Isn't that part of our instinct, though? We must hide our weakness lest a stronger being attacks us, right? Biologically, it makes sense that people who are dealing with this illness go to great lengths to conceal it. I wish I could speak for every person who has ended their life, but I cannot. Our truths are relative and we draw our own conclusions about what to do based on what we're experiencing. So I can't speak for the uncle I never knew, the girl I said "Hi" to in passing, the college co-worker who was so sweet to everyone, or the guy who was the life of the party. But I can relate to them. What I do know is that sometimes life becomes so overwhelming and painful that death seems like the only escape.
Suicide rates have been steadily rising, and for every death there are at least twelve others who attempt. Our society has done nothing to remove the conditions that drive anxiety and depression to fatality. If anything, we have been told to stifle it...to keep our heads down and never ask for help. When we do gather the courage to speak to a professional, we find that we may have to wait weeks or months to get an appointment. We ask ourselves what we could possibly do to get past the bullshit and truly reach the ones who need us or reach the ones who can help us. It is true that much of this is beyond our control, but there is one thing we can do to make a huge impact:
Recently, a friend posted on his Facebook that he would like those struggling with suicidal ideations to message him right away. It may seem simple, but it is actually one of the most genius things I've heard lately. When someone offers a hand to help, it truly mimics the feeling of breaking the surface when you've been under water for too long. We have to take care of ourselves, and sometimes that means asking someone to take care of us for a moment. If you can offer to take care of someone for even a few minutes, you've already made a huge difference. I would like to extend my own invitation to you...if you ever need someone to listen or help, you can contact me any time.
So talk. Encourage honesty, encourage the people around you to hold on to you, and don't be afraid to hold on to them when you need it. Please. Keep holding on, you guys. We can survive together.
A special thanks to Kevin Wilson for opening his ears to those who are struggling. I hope more people will follow your kindness.
This article is for Justin. You are dearly loved and missed.