You know, the ones your friends on Facebook and Instagram tack onto the end of their RIP posts whenever a celebrity dies from suicide. I fucking hate those posts, and I’m going to tell you why. When I was 15 I desperately wanted to cease existing, I never made an attempt on my own life, but that didn’t stop my parents from getting me placed on a 51/50 and hospitalized for a week in an adolescent psychiatric ward with a bunch of other kids who actually tried to kill themselves. While I was in there not once did someone recommend we call a hotline next time.
Recently, one of my now former, Facebook friends went so far as to insist that one of those hotlines might have helped Anthony Bourdain had he called it, of course, I had to laugh at her for being so naive. In my experience, people who want to die don’t cry out for help on the telephone. The thing about wanting to die is that you’re not inclined to speak about it when prompted by even close friends and especially by relatives. Suicide is often viewed as a weak and selfish act and that is why we hide it from each other. A suicidal person does not want to admit weakness or selfishness any more than you want to discover it in them.
I think that’s why people post those hotlines. It’s a seemingly thoughtfully way of saying “please don’t kill yourself” but in reality its a slug sandwich type sentiment. What posting that hotline really says is “if you want to kill yourself, I’m ashamed of you, and you’re probably ashamed of yourself too so I would like for you to expose the depth of your soul to a completely non-interested party” i.e. a stranger.
The truth of the matter, as I hinted at above, is that we can’t control people and we can’t change them, they have to do it themselves. Being suicidal is no different than being a drug addict in that sense, not only that, but rock bottom often looks the same for a deeply suicidal person and a deeply drug addicted person.
I suppose those hotlines might help a deeply suicidal person who has decided to reach out for help with the process of becoming safe with themselves, but that doesn’t mean that the general public should wield those hotlines like a talisman of mental clarity every time someone famous off’s themselves. Perhaps, “check on your people” is a better sentiment for your type A telephone talking personalities to share. Although even checking on your people regularly isn’t going to be enough to keep them earthside, if they really want to go, there’s not much you can do to keep them here.
As a fan of writer Hunter S. Thompson, I wasn’t surprised or shocked when he killed himself, because he had spoken about it for years. However, as a fan of Anthony Bourdain, I was shocked by his sudden departure, because I understood him to be a little more spiritually evolved than say, Doc Thompson. Not to mention, Bourdain was obligated to put his selfish need for death aside and remain in place here with his young daughter and his romantic partner. Assuming, of course, that death wasn’t a medical necessity for Bourdain, we don’t know yet if he was suffering from a secret illness apart from being a clinically depressed recovered drug addict and alcoholic.
The point is, more than recommending hotlines, and checking in with each other, we need to destigmatize suicide to some degree, to allow for a more open channel of communication between those who suffer from suicidal thoughts and the people close to them. Too many people are shocked to find the body of a loved one, and if we can’t keep each other from wanting to die, could we at least provide a way for people that do want to leave, to do so cleanly and privately? There’s no hotline to call after you wake up from a night of heavy drinking and find your husband has shot himself to death in bed next to you because not all suicide is premeditated.
For the record, I don’t support or condone suicide, with the exception of assisted suicide, otherwise known as death with dignity for the terminally ill, but that doesn’t mean that I want the people I love to feel uncomfortable talking with me about their own private hell. You can give me all the details, I’m not squeamish, I’m not afraid of my own dark places and I’m not afraid of yours. I’d also like to take this opportunity to advocate that you always have at least one reason to stay, even if you don’t know or can’t remember what it is yet, it’s there, or it’s coming soon. Additionally, dependants, especially children, are always a good reason to stay, even if they are grown.
So go ahead and fire off in the comments below, I just made plenty of outlandish remarks about suicide and I am prepared to defend each and every one of them, or at the very least block and delete you guys.
*If you think your child is suffering from suicidal thoughts please don’t hesitate to do something about it. Have them hospitalized, evaluated, treated, medicated, while you’re still the ruling power in their life.
*If you’re a child with suicidal thoughts, please seek immediate emergency medical attention.
*If you’re a grown ass adult with suicidal thoughts you should probably get your shit checked out too.