This word alone evokes a plethora of emotional and physical responses. And yet, any conversation around the topic is quickly brushed past in an effort to focus on rainbows, butterflies, and puppy snuggles. And so we ask the question: why? Why are we brushing off such a crucial and lifesaving conversation?
As a society, we are pushed to be superhuman. We work long hours day after day. Students are pressured into getting excellent grades. We are stretched thin doing work, school, and multiple extracurricular activities such as sports, music, and community service. And on top of all that, we are enamored with the images, videos, and dialogue we scroll past as we stare at the screen tucked away in our pocket. Do we just not have time to converse about an important topic like suicide? Or are we simply hiding stress, pain, anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide behind a seemingly glamorous and superhuman lifestyle?
Maybe it’s true and we don’t have the time, but with every like and share used on social media it’s ridiculously easy to include suicide as a topic in regular conversation. It’s as easy as sharing a link to a video…like this one here.
No, I think the biggest problem is that our superhuman conditioning keeps us from admitting defeat. We force a laugh and put on a smile going about our days like nothing is wrong because we are superhuman and have no weaknesses. But here’s the secret! Everyone, superhuman’s and heroes alike, has at least one weakness. Some weaknesses are simple and easy to overcome like dyslexia, color blindness, or being hard of hearing. Others, though, are exceptionally difficult to overcome and can remain a lifetime companion like substance addictions, mental health disorders, and chronic pain. And yet, more often than not, the motto of life remains: Suck it up, Buttercup! And we press on – keeping our weaknesses and struggles hidden. But why? Why do we keep silent about our weaknesses? Why do we suffer in silence?
The answer can be summarized in one word.
On one side, fear is felt by the man or woman suffering in silence.
- …that everyone will judge me.
- …that I’ll be seen as a failure.
- …that I won’t be taken seriously.
- …that I’ll never change or get better.
- …that no one will ever understand what I’m going through.
- …of being a burden.
- …of being weak.
- …of not living up to my true potential.
- …of myself.
And on the other side, fear is felt by the man or woman wanting to help, support and love the sufferer.
- …that I won’t know what to do or how to react.
- …that they won’t trust me enough to tell me everything.
- …that I don’t know enough to help them.
- …that they don’t know how much I love them.
- …that the things I say or do may make their suffering worse.
- …that somehow their suffering is my fault.
- …of not being able to relate to what they’re going through.
- …of failing them.
- …of losing them.
The act of suicide doesn’t happen overnight. It takes days, weeks, months, and even years of intense suffering in silence – hopeless and alone – before it takes its victim. We can stop suicide from taking another life by talking about it and making people aware of its existence.
Fear should never stop us from reaching out to friends and family and providing them with a safe space to talk. I know it’s hard to call out for help in the midst of agonizing suffering, but we have to do it. We have to try. Let’s stop suicide before it even becomes an option by opening up about our weaknesses, struggles, and inner battles now.
When I hear the word suicide, I think of the people who have been there for me when I cried out for help. From all of me, thank you! I think of the families and friends of individuals who have taken their lives by suicide. My heart and prayers go out to you in this time of suffering and remembrance. And I think of friends, family, and acquaintances who may be suffering in silence. I’m not perfect, but I will do my best to listen to you and love you the best I know how.