Each May, we recognize Mental Health Awareness Month, though it often passes unnoticed due a lack of understanding, education, and knowledge of what mental illness is and what if can look like in the first place. Recently, we have lost several celebrities to suicide, which seems to be the time when awareness spikes. However, suicide is an issue every day, whether we want to admit it or not, and we need to be able to talk about it. So let’s talk about it.
Some of my closest friends know what I am about to share, some don’t.
I am a suicide survivor.
People say that suicide is a selfish act, the “cowards way out”. But there’s something that you’ll never understand unless you’ve been there: for some of us, (myself included) as we make that decision to end our lives, we have convinced ourself the exact opposite. We truly believe that we are doing our loved ones and the world a service by ridding it of ourselves.
As much as I wish that the world understood, the fact that I know that this would require every citizen in it to be in this position, to feel these things even just for a moment, I can never in good conscious ever want this reality. In fact, I hope that none of you ever get there; to this place of complete darkness that has the power to consume every bit of you, every thought that fires within your brain, every drop of blood that flows within your veins, every second that ticks away at your seemingly pointless existence.
What I do ask, is to please never judge those who have been.
For some, it’s less about death, but more about ending the pain. The pain, that in the same regard as the darkness, I hope none of you ever feel, a pain so unbearable that your brain tricks you into believing death to be the only reprieve.
The reasons that suicide is such a prevalent and tragic reality today have become nearly countless, despite how nonsensical they may seem to most. However, I fully believe that no matter how many justifications or reasons we can come up with within our minds, whether we are the who survive, those who do not, or those who are left behind, there will never be an answer to the question of “why”. Not an answer that will satisfy anyone, anyway, for this is a question that I believe will never have a definitive answer; and to search for one, to place blame on anyone or anything for someone’s decision to end their own life is fruitless, as it only prolongs, complicates, or blocks the healing process completely.
Take my experience, for instance, I knew I had options, I knew I could get help, I knew I was sick, I knew my mind was wrong, I knew there were people I would leave behind that cared for me, loved me, and that I would be letting down. I knew my Bipolar Depressive episode was consuming me; but in the end, the part of me that was screaming this logic lost, and was drowned out by the darkness of the depression that told me that they would actually be better off. This side had its own logic, logistical reasoning that somehow made more sense to me. Reasons that I won’t repeat here, for fear of triggering others, or bringing up memories of times that don’t need to be relived.
Having said all of this, those left behind who feel anger, shock, abandonment and who can’t understand why their loved ones choose to end their lives as they are consumed by their mental illness do not deserve judgment any more than those who succumbed to the darkness in the first place.
The manifestation of grief within others is not anyone else’s to decide. People will mourn, and they will inevitably mourn differently. Mourn in your way, mourn respectfully, and respect others’ right to mourn how they will.
Please be gentle, please be kind. Stigmas are not ended with the creation of new ones.