I know I just updated yesterday, but today is World Suicide Prevention Day, so here we are.
In case you’re new and don’t know me, I am almost constantly trying to raise funds for suicide prevention through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Right now, I am on a 4-month hiatus, but be sure that come January sign-up I will be back, begging for your pocket change. In the meantime, let’s talk about suicide, shall we?
Some people are scared of that word, due to the stigma that surrounds mental illness in pretty much all forms. Suicide is scary, especially when you consider the fact that literally everyone has a chance of dying from it. It has no requirements and can affect anyone at any time. There are many reasons people commit suicide, but I’m not going to delve into speculation about the lives of other people. I can only speak to myself.
For me, suicide is the final and most tragic symptom of depression. People who aren’t depressed simply do not kill themselves. You may argue “what if said person has a terminal illness and decides to go out on their own terms?” That person is depressed, fool. You don’t get a terminal illness without a healthy dose of depression. “What if said person was a drug addict and overdosed and didn’t MEAN to kill themselves?” Drug addiction is a sign of depression. Happy people don’t do drugs.
Moral of the story? Depression kills.
Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year. That’s a body every 40 seconds. Every 40 seconds, someone on the planet decided they have had enough, and ends it. It’s a sad statistic, but one I remember.
Recently, I spoke to a friend who has had some suicidal moments in her life. We both have Major Depressive Disorder and often talk frankly and openly about such things. I asked her about fears, for my previous blog, and she couldn’t come up with anything that fit the scope of the article, but she did mention large bodies of water. She fears them because she doesn’t trust herself. I can understand that-I fear the bottle of Xanax I keep on the top shelf in the bathroom. It’s the reason I don’t have guns in the house, for chrissake-fear that we will snap, and end it, is real and with us every day.
Many years ago, I went to the beach. There was a pier that everyone was jumping off, maybe a 25-foot drop. I’m a fairly strong swimmer and I don’t fear heights so I literally leapt at the chance to jump off this pier. The problem is, as soon as I hit the water, the tide went out. I started swimming back to shore, but felt my arms and legs get heavier. I noticed that I wasn’t making much headway, and was drifting further out. I tried to grab hold of the pier but only bashed my side against it as the waves picked up. Finally, I was underwater, sinking, thinking “Gee, this is peaceful. This would be a good way to go. If I die right now, this isn’t so bad.”
But I didn’t die. Someone grabbed my arm and pulled me up, and I saw my friend Mike, red-faced and huffing, dragging me up and out of the water. Eventually he got me back to shore, where I threw up a bunch of lake water and sputtered for air. I remember thinking “Thank God he was here!” and, also, “So close. So close to quiet.” I wasn’t necessarily suicidal, but I was looking for a relief that seemed illuminated by possible death. That’s not to say suicidal thoughts haven’t entered my mind. In high school I was pretty much at my worst, and considering the easy way out, but a friend stopped me, showing me how much I had to live for. In college, I spent twenty minutes standing on a bridge trying to decide if jumping was a good plan, until my mother showed up and the idea floated away. So yes, these thoughts come to me, but they also leave, and I am happy to see them go. The sad part is when they come for others.
Not that there isn’t help, because there is. There are suicide hotlines, counseling, medication, and all sorts of emotional tools to keep you from getting to that point. Most people find the situation hopeless, and don’t look for help. Well, it’s here, guys. It exists. And it’s worth it.
Do I know you? Are you feeling depressed or suicidal? Do you need to talk? Get in touch. Are you a stranger who needs help, but doesn’t know where to turn? I don’t care. Get in touch. There are no judgments on my end, I assure you. I can raise all the money in the world and write a million blog posts about it, but the only thing that really is going to stop suicide is people coming together and standing up to it, and being a support for those facing such unfathomable decisions. It is my hope that all the depressed people in the world choose one more day, every day, because things do change. Things do get better. Maybe not easier, but better. I promise.