Trigger warning: this one is going to be a little dark.
You’ve seen her on social media or in person. She’s the girl with the warmest smile. The kind of smile that instantly made you feel at home. She’s the queen bee, when she walks in a room all attention goes to her. She’s beautiful. She’s intelligent. She can hold a conversation like no other. When she shines her brilliant smile on you, you feel like you’ve won the world.
On social media, she has thousands of followers ready to like everything she posts. She has a great family, great friends, a good job. She seemingly has it all. And then you wake up one morning to the news that she slit her hands or she overdosed and she’s gone. Death by suicide.
You try to understand it but you can’t. You really can’t. She had it all, you say. She was about to graduate, about to get married, had been promoted at her job, had travelled the world…. Or whatever reason that is the yardstick for worldly success.
But here’s the thing, you can’t get it. Unless you’ve been in her shoes, you won’t understand. Experts say that at the point of an acute suicidal moment, your brain function actually changes. It’s at that point that you feel like the only option is death by your hand. Cognitive constriction they call it. People at the point of suicide can’t see beyond their circumstances and don’t believe their pain will end.
It’s particularly hard to write this, let alone go through it. Which is why it hurts me to see negative words hurled at people that have attempted or even died by suicide. Words like, “you must be incredibly selfish to want to end your life.” Or, “You were looking for attention.” Or, “You weren’t thinking of your loved ones when you did what you did.”
It also pains me beyond belief that attempted suicide is criminalized in our country. Mental health is not something that is prioritized in here but that has got to be one of the worst ways to ‘help’ a mentally fragile person. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in young people. And that is a pandemic.
The thing is, when a person is at that point for wanting to end it all, they are thinking about their loved ones. They are thinking about how much better it would be for their loved ones if they weren’t around. They are thinking, no one understands them and their pain, and their lives don’t make sense. They are thinking the pain is too much for them to handle. The myriad of voices in their heads are telling them the best way to escape it all is to end it all.
Sometimes, they seek help. They post on social media, they call a person. And unfortunately, sometimes, this too escalates the situation. The person they call is not available to help, or says the wrong thing. Someone on social media tells them to just do it. But sometimes this pans out. It helps them.
There’s a conversation to be had about how social media has contributed to many mental health issues today, but that will be for another time.
I’m not an expert, I’m just someone who knows and understands that feeling all too well. I’m just a person who’s been there. What I want is for people to be a little bit more kind to those that are at the point of ending. To be a little bit more empathetic. What I want is for more help for those going through it and not stigmatization.