When I was a young teenager my best friend since childhood took his own life. There isn’t many life events that have affected me so deeply as that. I can remember the sights, the sounds, the smells so vividly even many years since. I’m not going to get into the details of that day as it isn’t what this post is about. What I will talk about is the questions that arose from that and how they are always the same questions we ask when someone ends their own life.
The big question is always “why”. We try to make sense of a senseless situation. The answer is never one we want to hear. We don’t want to hear that someone we love was suffering so deeply and we didn’t see it. We don’t want to know that someone in our circle would ever sink so low that they saw no other option. It’s a simple question that does not have a simple answer and really it could be the wrong question. We will be angry with them for it; we will call them selfish, we will scream out that we will never forgive them. When you analyze it we make it about us somehow. Maybe the question we should be asking is “how can we stop this from happening again?” This is the tough question and I think the answer begins with treating depression and other mental illnesses as what they are; an illness. We need to make those who suffer inside feel that they can talk about it, just like if they were talking about a cold or the flu. We need to make help easily and discreetly available. I know this will not end mental illness and I know that it won’t cure those who suffer; what I do know is that it will give people like us a fighting chance. We all need to look at what we believe about depression and suicide and mental health and we need to understand what it really is: a painful, frustrating, isolating illness that can leave us feeling hopeless and terrifyingly alone.
If you understand this feeling, get help. If you know someone who feels this way, help them get help. Everyday go out with the intent to understand those around you, you will be surprised who needs your helping hand.