I have been annoyed since last night, and more than annoyed, I have been very concerned for some of my loved ones. When things happen in celebrity news everyone seems to have something to say about it. Well, I don’t have anything to say about the guy, because I did not know him. Here is who I do know:
A lovely friend of mine, and her family lost her fifteen-year-old brother to suicide over two years ago. He was beautiful, and brilliant, and it was tragic, and it brings a tear to my eye every time that I think about him. I have a picture of him playing at the beach with my kids hanging in our bedroom. My close friend lost her father to suicide a couple of years ago. He was a husband, a father of three, and was expecting his first grandchild. My old roommate lost his brother to suicide a few years ago and I didn’t even know about it until last month, because it isn’t the sort of thing that people reach out and seek sympathy for…he had a wife and two kids. My second cousin ended his life leaving behind his son and daughter, and the rest of our family. When I started to think about it, the numbers of people I know that have been personally affected by suicide are staggering. As I was scrolling through the numerous, numerous, posts about this one celebrity who ended his life this morning, I noticed that my cousin spoke up about her distress over having to hear about it repeatedly at work today. She lost the love of her life to suicide several years ago.
So yes, on the one hand I can say: “Everybody shut the fuck up! You didn’t know this guy. There are people all around you who have been severely affected by the suicides of people that were actually a part of their lives, and it probably really fucking sucks for them to hear everybody going on about important it is to talk about god-dammed depression.” Here is the thing: it makes people who have lived through the suicide of a loved one feel like they have failed in some way. As if they could have done something that could have actually saved someone that they cared deeply about if they would have only learned some handy-dandy tips. That is not fucking true! Yes depression and bi-polar disease are things that need to be acknowledged. No, it is not cool to tell depressed people to perk up, that just makes you an ignorant asshole, but still, unfortunately, and I say this having taken one of the most highly rated suicide prevention courses in the country; it is very often only a matter of timing. I honestly believe that in the case of my very young friend, if the course of the day that he died would have gone just a bit differently, he might still be with us today. His family did not do anything wrong, and I can’t stand the fact that people are probably saying things if front of them today that might make them feel that way.
Sometimes there really aren’t very many signs. I know that it doesn’t make us feel very empowered to control things, but we aren’t even the important people being affected in this scenario: it is only that famous guy’s friends and family who have suffered a loss. To be quite blunt, the rest of us probably contributed to his death by putting the fucking pressure of fame on his shoulders. Now that you are thoroughly pissed off at my attitude, I can tell you that my husband reacted completely differently and was heart warmed by the immense outpour of concern that occurred as a result of said comedian’s death. All that I am asking is that you pay attention to who you are talking to, or in front of, in the wake of this tragedy, and what you actually know about suicide, depression, and substance abuse. And please don’t go trying to push anyone into getting on medication. I am not saying that people do not benefit from it, but it is incredibly difficult to regulate and not by any means a quick fix or a safety net for suicide prevention. Good solid counseling is by far more valuable, and the act of reaching out to those that we love whenever the thought strikes us is constantly underestimated. If you want to make a difference, just listen to your inner voice when it speaks to you. We so often push it aside. I am certainly not telling you that making a phone call is the way to save someone’s life, but falling back on that suicide prevention training that I took, you would be amazed by how much of a difference one phone call, or one simple visit can make.