Phew! Those are pretty heavy duty questions but they’re also good to consider in your life and for those around you because believe me when I say, the laughter isn’t always real.
I was inspired to write this post partly because I missed National Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, 2021 (the first time in three years!) and also because things don’t stay tied down to one particular date or time.
Prevention and awareness of suicide is always a timely subject.
The idea of suicide prevention and awareness, is to open up the conversation and then keep it going. Within our societal structures I don’t think we realize how often suicidal thoughts waft through the mind. Whether it’s a young girl who got dumped by her boyfriend, a guy who found out he’s being fired, or someone who’s been a long-time sufferer of clinical depression. It can be a number of things but that one trigger that pushes and pushes a person to action, is the one that seals the deal. The reality of “forever” doesn’t register on some when they’re on the edge and full of pain, and this scary.
I don’t want to belittle the notion of suicide and say that it can all be prevented. What I want to look at is those who are willing to seek help or those around the one who is suicidal and pulling them down. Sometimes it’s not about the suicide but about survival.
This cartoon spoke volumes to me and I wanted to share it with you.
“Heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor… I am Pagliacci.”Alan Moore, Watchmen
Everyone–you, me, your teachers, your friends… everyone wears a mask in various situations and locations. Think about it. You’re not the same person when you’re with your friends as you are with your parents. And when you’re home you behave and think differently than when you’re out shopping or on a date with your partner.
The reality is that each of us adapts to various roles and if we’re not careful, we can get labelled and shoved down into that square box for a very long time when it’s not who we really are. This can be debilitating and labels are so dangerous–like being called the happy one all the time, the one who loves everyone, the one who sees the positive/goodness in everyone… These kinds of labels put a huge burden upon a person to live up to those expectations. It’s not only unrealistic, but it’s also unfair.
Pagliacci, helped everyone else and left himself for last. Depleted and empty, he finally went for help. Don’t let this be you. Here are some DO’s and DON’T’s when it comes to everyday situations.
If you find yourself being pulled down into someone else’s hole–whether through negativity, self loathing, self medicating (drugs/alcohol/addictions)– let go and step back. This doesn’t mean you’re giving up on them, it means you can stay more grounded and strong in order to make sensible decisions for yourself–this allows you to offer assistance too.
- Don’t tell someone that everything will be “fine” or that they’re being “silly”.
- Do acknowledge that they need help and you’d be willing to work with them to find it.
- Don’t tell someone you can “fix it” or they “must do A,B,C.” Ultimatums don’t work.
- Do offer to help find professional help. You can not force the actions only support.
- Don’t get sucked into someone’s negativity, threats, drug use, toxicity…
- Do stay aware of how that negativity affect you. Be honest. Refuse to partake.
- Don’t get sucked into being the one who holds everything, and everyone, together.
- Do stay healthy and know your limits. You’re not there to constantly pump someone up–even if that someone is a parent or best friend.
- Don’t hide the truth to soften the blow for others.
- Do share your misgivings, doubts, fears, and reality.
- Don’t agree to keep secrets if someone says they’re going to kill themselves.
- Risk the relationship and seek help–tell someone–Remember death is permanent.
- Don’t compare your life to anyone else’s.
- Do know that everyone has some sort of issue that affects their mental health.
- Don’t ignore your inner voice–that gut feeling is real and often more accurate than our brain.
- Do work on yourself. Learn your limits and triggers. Refuse the burden of guilt.
- Do not enter into suicide pacts or murder-suicide agreements.
- This is not only foolish but also misguided. Go tell someone. The betrayal will only be to yourself.
- Don’t joke about suicide or tell someone to “just go ahead and do it” because they talk about it all the time.
- Do know that when someone talks about it, there’s a message behind the words. They need help, not permission to self harm. You don’t want that shit on your conscious.
There comes a time in life when choice outweighs others abilities to assist in making a difference. Be true to who you are without the mask. I know that’s a big ask. The fear of rejection, judgement, and shame are so powerful.
Commit these to memory:
- Help is available.
- I’m not alone.
- Someone else has gone through similar things, experiences, pain…
- I am worthy of being loved and living a productive, happy life.
- God doesn’t make garbage.
- I am meant to be.
- I do belong some where.
- There is no shame in letting my true feeling show.
- I have strength and resilience deep within me and my story could help someone else.
- I accept one day at a time. One hour at a time…I will seek out the help available because I am worth it.
I AM WORTH IT
Go back and read and repeat until it actually sinks in….
Anywhere in BC 1-800-SUICIDE: 1-800-784-2433
Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789
Vancouver Coastal Regional Distress Line: 604-872-3311
Sunshine Coast/Sea to Sky: 1-866-661-3311
Seniors Distress Line: 604-872-1234
Online Chat Service for Youth: www.YouthInBC.com (Noon to 1am)
Online Chat Service for Adults: www.CrisisCentreChat.ca (Noon to 1am)
Canada Suicide Prevention ServiceHours: 24/7/365. Languages: English/French 833-456-4566