Editor’s Note: What follows is a frank and illuminating article that speaks about suicide, it’s impact, surprising triggers, and red flags. Content warning for those whom have difficulty with this topic.
My mother killed herself in a rather grisly fashion when I was 23 years old, and death has set up a permanent residence in my head ever since. It’s a few weeks away from what would have been her 59th birthday, and she starts to flood my mind around this time. One of the big misconceptions about being suicidal is that it gets better when the environment a person live in gets better. I saw it in action; my mother started to brighten up in the weeks before she did it. Of course she was happy, she’d found what she saw as her solution to a miserable life. I can tell you from my own experience that reversal of fortune does not always effect depression, at times it can make it worse. Some people are so used to being miserable than when they finally get the things that make them happy, they become terrified of losing them. They kill themselves when everything is good. I call it “going out on top.”
People are shocked by suicide, especially when it’s done by someone who they feel has a good life. What people don’t understand is that a “good life” is relative. You never know who is really suffering unless 1. they trust you and 2. you ask them. The people who are most at risk rarely talk about it. That isn’t to say the people who are vocal shouldn’t be taken seriously. All expressions should be taken seriously. When someone who is really depressed suddenly brightens up, be concerned. One of the most dangerous times in the recovery of a suicidal person is when their medications improve their energy but therapy hasn’t improved their faulty cognition yet. People become more motivated and energized to act on their plans.
Major Depression isn’t as dangerous as a Depressed and Manic self. Hopeless and full of boundless energy is not a good combination. I’ve seen no less than 3 of my Facebook friends post about friends lost to suicide in the last 30 days. Good weather can be very depressing. Suicidal people, seeing everyone else having fun and happy, may feel even more broken because they feel they should be happy too. But warm weather is when these people are bombarded by everything that proves their faulty thoughts and automatic beliefs, much like being single on Valentine’s Day. It’s a stark reminder of everything you don’t have. Depression warps perception; beautiful weather can be torture; there’s so much you SHOULD do and so much you CAN’T do. Depression and suicide doesn’t mean someone gave up; they should not be reviled. Depression is something you succumb to, like any other terminal disease.
Depression loves rainy days and blizzards, abandoned train stations and isolation. There’s a certain relief the depressed person feels that no one else is having fun either. Unseasonably warm weather throws people with mood disorders off, and they generally don’t deal well with it. Depression is ever present and it doesn’t take a day off. Its been my experience (as a Mental Health Professional I have come across A LOT of depressed people) that, as a friend, the best way to help them is to keep them out of their own head. If they don’t want to go out, stay with them. They may not outwardly express their gratitude, but trust me, it helps.
Suicidal people don’t need to be deified or have grand gestures to effect positive change; they just need to know that people would really have their lives wrecked if they killed themselves. Suicidal people are obsessed with death; it’s a friend, a lover, a release, a safety valve that promises a solution. They’re so in love, everything and everyone else is obscured. It’s not selfishness, the rest of the world just disappears, like sick twisted new love. Like anyone in an abusive relationship, helping someone in a bad relationship takes support, concern, and attention. You can’t get tired or burned out. Make it a team effort so one person can pick up when another runs out of gas. It’s hard for a suicidal person to know and believe that if they kill themselves they’ll break so many people they care about.
Spring seems to be rush hour for the depressed at work. Pay attention to your friends, pay attention to the people who you could not live without. Because some of them may feel that everyone would be better off without them. If you are lost, message me, I get paid to do this and I offer my services for free as well. People need you. One death can have a negative ripple effect destroying so many others; those closest to you will feel it the hardest. If this sounds like you, Break up with Death. That ho don’t love you.
John Minus is a writer, stand-up comedian, psychologist, geek, and all-around great guy who lives and breathes his home state of New Jersey. From Race to Role-Playing games, John can speak intelligently (but not necessarily sanely) about any topic. Coyote is his Totem and Ryu from Street Fighter is his Life Coach. You can read his blogs and fiction at Exit Eleven and you can follow his stand up shows on his Facebook page. For a more esoteric experience, follow him on Twitter @DonCoyote