There’s a myth about suicide: That those more likely to commit it are the delinquents, the drop-outs, the homeless, the addicts, the apparently troubled.
Quite often, though, the most susceptible are our role models, the high-achievers, the straight-A students, the chipper, the friendly, the generous, the successful.
Unlike a death where there are obvious “bad guys” and victims, suicide is so often inexplicable. Family of the victims question themselves, wonder why they didn’t see the signs and turn back that anger on themselves.
Families of people who take their own life often look back at what the person said, or how they acted, for missed signs.
Invariably, it is such a complicated mindset that unless you’ve been suicidal, it’s difficult for someone of normal thinking to see that point of view. The best we can do is let people know that there is help.
Most of the time, reporters refuse to cover suicides. Suicides happen in clusters, partly because someone who’s suicidal may cement that decision to take their own life if they hear about someone else doing the same.
It’s risky to bring attention to the behavior but sometimes, suicides are a public event and we’re forced to write about them.
Sometimes it’s mental illness. People with bipolar disorder describe coming down with “tunnel vision” that blocks out all prospects, all concept, of tomorrow. They can’t imagine a future. They don’t want to kill themselves, but feel they have to.
Other times, it’s everyday pressures like those felt by my mom, it’s all the little things and the big things and the things we can’t get over. It all starts to pile up and seem insurmountable.
It’s the expectations of the people around us, especially of our teachers and parents. Often, kids who get tons of positive feedback for their accomplishments have a fatal weakness – undeveloped coping mechanisms for criticism and what they perceive as failure.
Suicide and the people who consider it are often stigmatized, especially by conservative religious communities.
Taking one’s life, or even weighing it as an option, is taboo to talk about. People are made to feel ashamed to admit that they’ve considered it.
I think it’s important to bring out in the open, though. Because often when you’re at that low point, you feel guilty and alone.
You think you’re the only one who feels that way, that there’s no one who cares and no one who can help and no solution.
If more people knew that the feeling is shared and overcome by so many other good people, I think they’d make it out alive.
Suicide is always a temporary feeling. We need to make those permanent solutions less available so people have time to get over it.