One would think I’d know that. I’d really rather not. I’d like to be just passively aware that people kill themselves and feel a detached sadness on their behalf. I’m not. I know 14,000 people try to kill themselves every day. I know the anguish and despair they feel that leads them to conclude dead is better than living. I know I’ve been among those 14,000 three times. One would think I’d improve with practice.
On occasion I lend my voice and my words to this epidemic. I’ve blogged about depression and suicide many times in this little puke of my mind page. Mostly, I cringe and willfully look away. I do so not because I disregard the plight of the mentally ill. Ever been in a public restroom with harsh, glaring fluorescent lights after a rough night? Nobody likes the image staring back from the mirror. I don’t want to be reminded that I am one of the sick. I keep my head down, have my daily battles with the demons in my head, and try to put on a good happy face for those around me.
I’m very lucky to be alive, and it is only due to quick action taken by those who care…and that I feel obligated to explain myself each time I try. I’d have gotten away with it if not for those pesky goodbye letters! (How often do you get a Scooby Doo reference in a blog about suicide?) Many of those 14,000 don’t have someone who will grieve when they’re gone. They don’t have someone to pull them back from the brink, usually against their will. I can’t tell you how pissed off I was each time emergency personnel showed up to save me.
Here’s a harsh statement I believe to be true. The mentally ill can not save themselves. We can’t save ourselves. In the absence of a real commitment to mental health in our society, many of us (we the mentally sullied) would be better off dead. Consider the pain that would lead someone to want to end their life. You want them to live with that? That’s the definition of evil.
So, with good intentions, people post on social media this week (and ignore it almost all the rest of the time.) I get it. I posted too. I don’t like looking in that mirror either. We don’t want people to kill themselves, but we do little about it. We feel good when we “save” someone from killing themselves. We lock them up in a vile place (I wrote about one such place in “Ten Days at Butler.”) where we don’t have to look at them in our mirrors.
Until we make real strides in addressing mental illness, we will not decrease the number of psychopaths shooting people. 14,000 people will continue to attempt suicide every day. For many, we are not being kind or beneficial in preventing them. We’re being cruel and making their sentence longer.