Black Lives Matter activist Marshawn McCarrel shot himself on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse on Monday. He posted on Facebook, “My demons won today. I’m sorry,” just hours before.
The shooting death of Kayden Clarke in Arizona last week was brutal. Clarke was a transgender man with Aspergers Syndrome, well-known on YouTube, and police responded to calls that he was threatening suicide with a knife. They shot him in the stomach.
A couple of people in my social media circles were visibly battling demons. These are people I’ve come to know through their generosity and outspoken stances on things like equality and education. For all they give, my heart broke for their expressions of self-loathing and self-doubt and wanting to opt-out. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our causes and movements and the ways others need us and neglect to care as much for ourselves. We unravel.
These incidents speak to our inability to address suicide as the apex of mental illness. No one talks about suicide outside of “don’t do it.” For reasons of faith or lack of individual comprehension, the tendency is to cast aspersion on the suicidal and not to understand the factors feeding into it or how to appropriately approach prevention.
It begins with saying the wrong thing. Statements that suicide is selfish, cowardly, inspire guilt and shame in someone who is already hurting. If the person believes in hell, you’re reminding them that’s where they’re going is a fear tactic and speaks little of your affection. And someone else’s suicide is not about you.
Understand that suicidal feelings are extensions of mental and emotional exhaustion. People with chronic physical or mental illnesses especially cope with these things on a prolonged basis and that as individuals with a myriad of life experiences, we can not hope to understand completely the things others go through. It isn’t possible. Empathy is the best we can hope for. And while you are entitled to your personal feelings on suicide, prevention is not about you voicing them.
So what you can do when confronted with a loved one who is expressing suicidal thoughts, is evaluate the immediate risk. Do they have a plan? Do they have the tools? Without putting yourself in harm’s way, do not leave a suicidal person alone. Seek assistance through their mental health professional, a crisis line or take the person to the emergency room, but consider heavily if you want to involve the police for obvious and unfortunate reasons.
Check in on people you know who are suffering, and make time to listen if they don’t just say they’re fine. Prevention could be as easy as a conversation over coffee.
And I re-post this everywhere, but if you are experiencing a significant depressive event, contact someone in your support circle or the fine people at these support numbers:
- Depression Hotline:1-630-482-9696
- Suicide Hotline:1-800-784-8433
- Trevor Project (LGBTQ Help Line):1-866-488-7386
- Sexuality Support: 1-800-246-7743
- Eating Disorders Hotline: 1-847-831-3438
- Rape and Sexual Assault: 1-800-656-4673
- Grief Support: 1-650-321-5272
- Runaway:1-800-843-5200, 1-800-843-5678, 1-800-621-4000
- Exhale (After Abortion Hotline/Pro-Voice): 1-866-4394
For much more thorough information on how to help, visit HelpGuide.org
And if you need to hear it today, I love you.
LeKesha is a web developer and book blerd. She advocates strongly for carefree blackness in literature, and prefers bloody over sparkly when selecting her anime. She takes her whiskey neat and her coffee with cream, sugar, and marshmallows too if you have them. If not, don’t worry about it.