The S Word
Suicide. There, I said it. In the last 10 months suicide has touched my life twice. And in both cases, no one wanted to use The Word. The shame and secrecy of suicide is so prevalent that I’m not going to name these men, though if you know me personally, you will most likely figure out who I’m referring to.
Briefly then, the first instance was a very close long-time friend of mine who had been going through a rough time. He deleted his Facebook page and his last status was “I’m out.” I thought “Uh-oh,” but he’d deleted his page and then returned once before. This time though… he was gone. I read the news on Twitter and I died a little. I scrambled to contact mutual friends to see if it was true. It was true. My first words to a mutual friend that told me that he was really dead: “Did he do it to himself?” Yes, he did. It was without doubt the worst day of my life.
But in all the Internet reporting, no one said how he died. Once in a while someone would comment that it could be a suicide since no cause of death was ever reported, and the commenter would promptly be told to STFU.
At an impromptu memorial gathering several days later I said to another friend “I knew he’d been down lately, but…” And the friend who’d confirmed the suicide to me pulled me aside—very annoyed—and basically told me to shut up. That he wasn’t telling people the circumstances of the death and was in fact feigning ignorance and proposing alternate methods like ‘maybe it was a bar fight.’
It fucking sucks that my friend killed himself. And I can’t tell you how guilty I feel that I didn’t reach out to him when he deleted his Facebook page. That I didn’t demand that he talk to me. I had thousands of rescue fantasies in which I felt a disturbance in the Force, rushed to his home and saved him.
But here’s the thing. This is what he chose. His final message to the world, in essence was “Fuck this shit. I’m out.” And doesn’t his final “Fuck You” deserve to be heard?
It’s not for me to say. But I think his life and the way he chose to end it would have more meaning if people got the whole story including the unsatisfactory and heartbreaking ending.
Just last month a young man I knew went missing. I didn’t know him that well, but we ran in the same gaming circles, and he was kind enough to get me my iPad 2 with his employee discount. He was a sweet kid. When he left his house that night he deleted all the social media that meant anything to him and left behind his cell phone and wallet. His bicycle was found in a park.
When I heard those few facts I knew what had happened because now, this was not my first rodeo. Even though these facts were known widely people still got very annoyed when anyone suggested that this young man had perhaps killed himself. There’s having hope and there’s sticking your head in the sand. His body was discovered a few days ago. Not many people are calling it suicide outright. I chose to post links to suicide prevention lines which was a sort of passive-aggressive way of acknowledging things.
But this bright and funny young man decided, in his final act, to tell the world “I’m hurting. I reject this.” And I think we owe it to him to listen.
Suicide now kills more people than auto accidents. Depression is a disease with a pretty dismal survival rate. And it IS a disease. A disease that lies, that blinds, that is mostly inescapable without help.
If this young gamer guy had sent you a message on Xbox Live or Skype and said, “Man, I just can’t see any hope for me. I’m thinking I’d be happier if I were dead.” wouldn’t you jump all over that? Wouldn’t you talk to him, call his mom, go to his house and fucking abduct him if it could save him? Of course you would.
So don’t deny what he did. Don’t turn your back on him. He’s past help now, but the next guy isn’t.
Suicide isn’t shameful, it’s sad. What shameful is ignoring it.