I’d like to talk about a taboo subject. Something that many people feel very uncomfortable discussing because in many cases, either they feel that it doesn’t relate to them, or the topic scares them. That topic is suicide, and if the word makes you feel uncomfortable, then I say…Good. I’m glad it makes people uncomfortable, because it makes me uncomfortable as well, and the only way in which the topic of suicide will stop making us uncomfortable is if the idea that it can be a solution is wiped from the minds of everybody who has and will ever consider it.
Throughout my life, I’ve dealt with bullies. First, it was because I was the only Jewish kid in my school, then it was because one time in third grade, a classmate saw me pick my nose and the nickname “Booger King” lasted me until we moved 4 years later. After my family moved, I was no longer the only Jew, but I was first, the “new kid” and then “the fat kid.” I never fit into any of the typical grade school clicks. Despite always having my nose in a book and a heavy metal cd in my Walkman, I was neither smart enough to be a nerd or dark enough to be goth. I had no interest in smoking, and my obsession with professional wrestling peaked before professional wrestling suddenly became cool again. Thinking back, I can only imagine what these years would have been like had I recognized my gender identity issues earlier.
I loved to write, and I spent a lot of my personal time coming up with stories that I hoped would one day make me famous. I felt that I had a strong sense for the macabre and wrote a lot of dark material, often related to murder and suicide. However, despite the bleakness of my themes, I never once considered going down a darker path in real life.
At home, life was pretty tame, my family was relatively normal and I got along with my parents and my older brother pretty well. Sometimes I wonder if these relationships kept me from going down that road that leads many troubled youth to the unforgivable. I found out a few years later that my mom would occasionally snoop through my room while I was out, looking for any signs that there might be deeper trouble within me then I was willing to admit. Part of me was annoyed at this invasion of privacy, but another part of me was actually happy that my mother loved me enough and was attentive enough to my attitudes to want to make sure. I often wonder how many lives could have been saved over the years if the parents of more troubled kids were as attentive.
> "I NEVER ONCE CONSIDERED THE IDEA OF SUICIDE AS A WAY OF ESCAPING FROM THE UNHAPPINESS THAT I FELT IN LIFE."
I never once considered the idea of suicide as a way of escaping from the unhappiness that I felt in life. Instead, I hid within the words of Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, and even William Shakespeare. I drowned out any negative sounds with Metallica, the Beatles and sometimes, Weird Al. (I’ve always been extremely diverse in my tastes.) When I was lost in these other worlds, listening to all of those songs, my body and mind traveled to places that kept me going strong and made sure that I always remembered that there was a better life out there. I dreamt of the day when I would make it big, have a novel published, and laugh in the faces of everyone who ever doubted me. (Spoiler alert: Still waiting.)
But, I digress, because the point of this article isn’t how I kept my mind away from suicide; it isn’t even an attempt at telling others how to keep it away from their own mind. Because, I know, there is very little that can be said or done to clear those ideas once they start to grow. The important thing is to try and remember that you aren’t alone out there; no matter how isolated you may feel.
It saddens me when I hear people mocking suicide victims; and yes, they are victims. I read online as strangers lose all sense of empathy while referring to the recently deceased as “pathetic” or “cowardly” and even “selfish,” and I feel the pain deep down. Now, as I stated previously, I’ve never considered suicide as an option in my own life, but I have known some who have considered it (and thankfully either changed their minds or failed at their attempt). Despite not knowing the emotional pain firsthand, I recognize that suicide isn’t about taking the easy way out; it’s an impossibly hard decision that’s made by somebody who’s suffering internally in ways that many of us will never know.
I once had a long conversation with an ex after she attempted suicide, she explained it as follows:
“Imagine living a life where your own brain is constantly telling you that you are worthless. Imagine feeling helpless, no matter what you do. Imagine a pain, so deep inside of you and you know it will never go away. Now imagine your family and friends, the people who love you the most, as they see you in so much pain and they can’t do anything to make you feel better. Imagine feeling like a burden on those loved ones, because if you weren’t so sad, they wouldn’t be so sad. Imagine thinking that, every single day of your life. It weighs you down.”
> “I SUDDENLY UNDERSTOOD THAT SUICIDE WASN’T SO MUCH ABOUT ESCAPING THE PAIN FOR MANY PEOPLE.."
That statement really got to me, and really opened my eyes about how deep depression can really get. I suddenly understood that suicide wasn’t so much about escaping the pain for many people; it was about helping others by removing the pain, because they sincerely believe that our lives would be better without the weight of their depression on our shoulders. It gets so deep, that they forget about the pain that their absence will bring; they don’t understand that we would rather spend our lives with the saddest version of them, and then spend it without them at all.
Another thing that saddens me terribly is thinking about the overwhelming statistics of suicide among the LGBT community. Whenever I think about all of the members of our community who take their own lives because of the hatred that’s aimed at them, be it from strangers, so called friends, and even their families, it makes me want to cry. Here we have these beautiful, often young, individuals, being pushed from their homes, ignored by their closest friends, and even physically attacked for no reason but being attracted to what society deems as “the wrong people,” or worse, realizing that they don’t associate with their assigned gender. How heartless could somebody be for hating somebody, ANYBODY, just for wanting to be themselves and to love who they love? Then, people wonder why the percentages of homelessness, and even suicide among the people of the LGBT community are so ridiculously high.
My only hope from here is that anybody out there spreads some love and takes steps to make sure that others know they are there for them. The best way to raise awareness and help those in need, is to be there for them, to remind them that the world is a better place with them in it, and if they need help, the support is here if and when it is needed.
National Suicide Hotline US: 1-800-273-8255.
Canadian Crisis Support:yourlifecounts.org
National Trans Lifeline: US: (877) 565-8860
National Trans Lifeline Canada: (877) 330-6366