This is the time of year when the suicide rate goes up. It’s the time of year when depression deepens and for some, becomes intolerable. Pay attention.
When somebody has lost their lust for life and has withdrawn, there is a reason. Depression is not a myth and the subsequent mental state is not “a choice.”
It’s a fact that when somebody is depressed, often they attempt or certainly entertain the idea of suicide. It’s also a fact that as these people are getting “treatment” and seem to be on the upswing, their odds of successfully committing suicide increase exponentially.
Some of us are going to be alone this year. Some of us are used to being alone. Some of us were alone for years, surrounded by people who made us feel alone. But for some of us, being alone this year will be a “first.”
It doesn’t take much effort to let somebody know you are thinking about them. A remembrance is not a quick fix but compassion and forbearance are sometimes enough to let them know that you care. We need to remember that life is so very fragile, especially for those who are damaged and struggling.
Two days ago, I had to make myself go to the grocery store. It didn’t take longer than five minutes to go in, get what I needed and then get out.
As I was walking toward my car, I thought I heard somebody say “no. no.” I didn’t know what was going on but I noticed several people gathering around.
As I got closer, I realized what was happening. A man was holding a gun. I couldn’t have been more than five feet away from him. I didn’t freeze. I didn’t run. I looked right into his eyes as he put the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
I didn’t recoil in disgust. I didn’t scream. I didn’t look away. Blood was pouring from his nose and mouth and his eyes were half-open. The top of his head was gone.
I wondered what had gone through his mind just before the bullet ended all of his thoughts.
Not until I got home, did it occur to me that this man could have turned the gun on me or anybody else standing close by.
I remember thinking, “would anybody miss me? Would anybody be sad? Would anybody even know?”
Thinking about that didn’t bother me as much as the look in the mans’ eyes. I’ve seen death before and I’ve seen the result of suicide but I had never seen the actual act.
It won’t make the national news. As far as I know, it didn’t even make the local news. This could be due to the wishes of his family, if he had any or more than likely, it could be due to the fact that he was a “nobody.”
Had he been famous, we would have been bombarded with coverage. There would have been sad and meaningful epithets. There would have been mournful statements. There would have been cries for help for the mentally ill, that is, until one of the Kardashians put out a new line of lipstick.
There would be guilt-driven statements, citing sorrow for not having recognized the depths of their despair. There would be prayers and moments of silence. There would be special television presentations, celebrating the persons’ life.
But what about the regular people? The nameless, the forgotten, the homeless, the damaged?
Will anybody grieve for this man? Was he suffering from PTSD? Was he ignored? Was he told to “just get over it?” Was he accused of being too dramatic? Did people stay away from him because he “looked so sad?” Was he told that his mental state was “a choice?”
I have no idea but he ultimately made a choice. He chose to end his life, on his terms and in a very public way. There’s a song titled “Suicide is Painless.” It was the theme song for the television show M*A*S*H. It may be said that suicide is painless but the suffering it ends is not.
Had he begged for help from uncaring social workers or family members? Had he been a veteran, who served his country, only to return and find that he was little more than just another number on the register at the Veterans’ Hospital?
This is the time of year for family and celebration. It’s the time of year for parties and elaborate dinners. It’s the time of year for giving gifts, whether out of love or obligation.
I would ask that we all give the gift of understanding and tolerance to those damaged and struggling people who are suffering with depression and mental illness. Sometimes, it can be a simple phrase. “I’m here for you,” and who knows? You may save a life.