And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night
You took your life as lovers often do.”
Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor, mental health professional, or someone who diagnoses or treats any type of mental illness. I am sinmply an observer of life, moved by the Muse to write about things about which I have experienced either personally or in passing. If you are having thoughts of suicide, stop reading this and seek professional help.
I had never lost anyone I personally knew to suicide … until a couple of weeks ago. A former colleague who seemed happy, was everyone’s support system and by all appearances had it all together, took his life.
The profile was the same as those public figures whose ‘shocking’ suicides take over the headlines — Robin Williams, Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain to name a few of the most recent who come to mind.
“He had it all. Why did he kill himself? Why do people who have it all kill themselves?” my movie-viewing companion asked after we finished watching the Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga reincarnation of “A Star Is Born.”
Well, because apparently they didn’t … have it all, that is.
If judged solely by outside appearances, they had it all except the one thing they wanted. What was it? Well, we will never find out because even in cases where suicide notes are left behind, the details cut to the chase without exploring the nuances surrounding the extreme act. We may have an inkling of what led them to take their lives, but the complexity of hindsight blinds us to the truth.
I have been at the depths of despair, but I have never even so much as considered suicide. So I can only imagine the despair felt by those who do take their own lives.
It’s beyond sad. And while we find it hard to fathom why they did it, grieve their loss, and vow to seek help if we ever find ourselves at the lowest of lows, we turn a blind eye to the reality that we don’t have to die physically to commit suicide. Read that again.
We don’t have to die physically to commit suicide.
In fact, some people, most people — you, me, everyone we know — are killing themselves every day.
You commit suicide every time you postpone a dream, every time you say yes to something to which you wanted to say no, every time you go to a job that rapes the essence of who you were meant to be, every time you stay in a relationship that robs you of the freedom that relationships are supposed to offer, every time you let life get in the way of LIFE.
Because every time you do these things a part of you dies.
And while the majority of us don’t kill ourselves physically, we kill ourselves slowly, softly, with addictions, with distractions, with postponements that Photoshop the disillusionment, sadness, emptiness and anger that are part of the human experience.
The absinthe-fueled suicide of Vincent Van Gogh is the extreme, not the norm.
Unlike physical suicide, we can be resurrected from emotional and spiritual suicide. But it takes work. A lot of hard work, spiritual work, soul searching, a lot of admitting shit you’re not ready to admit, a lot of giving up the habits and addictions that distract you from the silent scream of the passions hidden inside your core.
But until you’re ready to face those demons, your daily suicide will continue. You will continue to take your life, by giving it to someone or something else.
Preventing it requires facing the pains most of us are not ready to face. But it’s only by facing and conquering those pains that we will ever truly live.
So instead of giving away my life, I have decided to take it … back.
One final note: If someone you know is showing signs that might indicate he or she is in a place where their pain may lead them to suicide, please reach out to them. Regret is the one thing we can never take back.