Odyssey recognizes that mental well-being is a huge component of physical wellness. Our mission this month is to bring about awareness & normality to conversations around mental health from our community. Let's recognize the common symptoms and encourage the help needed without judgement or prejudice. Life's a tough journey, we are here for you and want to hear from you.
We have grown up in a world of trigger warnings of suicide in recent years, but we don’t ever genuinely discuss why. Maybe it is an unspoken understanding to not trigger those with past traumas, but is this just a formality or do we all truly understand what that means?
It is no secret anymore that I have experienced suicidal ideation and depressive spells. I personally do not get triggered by conversations of such topics, but what I do get triggered by are the constant suicidal jokes that so effortlessly flow out of my friends’ mouths.
I know it’s not easy to censor ourselves. I occasionally find myself almost letting one slip out of my own lips, before I abruptly shove the thought away. And I hope this article will leave you all second thinking that seemingly harmless joke, because it is far from harmless.
First, I get triggered for myself. I am one of the most outspoken people I know about mental health. I share my story with the world because I am immensely proud of how far I have come, and I hope my vulnerability can encourage just one more person to give tomorrow a chance. And I hope that my openness comforts just one person into knowing they are not alone, even if they feel as though they have no one who understands. So, I share my story, even if it means second guessing how people will receive it: do people think I am attention seeking or do people think I am being dramatic? To clear one thing up, I am not being dramatic.
But with this openness comes tremendous vulnerability. After I post my story, will I get puppy dog looks from my friends? Will my boyfriend text me asking how I am doing? Or vice versa, will people pretend as if I had never said anything? Through it all, though, I can see who has viewed my stories. I can see who I have reached, even if just for a moments glance. And with that, I know who has seen me put my struggle on display, which is when the jokes from those people stab the deepest.
I know it is easy to joke about ending it all when the stress builds up, or the embarrassment becomes overwhelming, or when the timing feels perfect. But I beg you, I implore you, to stop yourself. Beyond minimizing this vitally serious topic, these jokes feel like a blatant insult to my experience. It reminds me of all those people who told me that perhaps I should just approach each day with a better mindset, or that I was overthinking it all. It reminds me of how many people did not understand how alone I felt during that time period.
Second, I get triggered for those of us not still here. I am almost at a loss of words on this one. These jokes are not jokes; they are not funny. They are real life, real struggles, and real pain. At this point, I can imagine that many of us have a connection or a distant knowledge of someone who we have lost to suicide. How can you sit there and joke about that pain? Do you think those final moments are painless? Do you think those final moments are funny? Do you think those final moments should be minimized into one joke that no one laughs at? I don't.
It feels as though you don’t see me, as though you don’t see us. But then again, I see you have viewed my story. So at that point, it feels as though you don’t care. Do you care?
My anger may be cutting through the screen more than my hurt. But they’re intertwined. Because at some point these jokes go beyond ignorance to me, instead they are insulting. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but they aren’t funny; they are painful. They are painful for those of us who have felt the deepest pain of not wanting to wake up the next morning, even if it means not being able to hear the birds sing or the waves crash or the sound of your loved ones ever again. They are painful for those of us grieving the loss of someone who has been overcome by this pain. And they are extraordinarily painful to me.
Please take the extra 0.2 seconds to hold it in. We have been socialized to believe they are funny, so we need to socialize ourselves out of this habit. If it slips, apologize. You never know who in the room is fighting every muscle in their body to crack a laugh, as the tears swell far out of view behind their eyes.