Suicide is Painless

Suicide is painless. That’s what they say, right?

In America alone, someone dies by suicide every thirteen minutes.

Let that sink in for a second.

Every thirteen minutes, someone in America takes his own life.

We lost another celebrity this week. The world stood stunned at the news of Chris Cornell’s passing. Suicide. Again.

Today we are talking about suicide. Because of Chris Cornell. And we’ve been talking about suicide for the last month because of the popular Netflix show based on the book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. It’s a conversation we need to keep having.

Mothers are clutching their pearls saying they don’t want their children to watch this show. They don’t want them getting any ideas. Schools are pulling the book from the library. It spreads the wrong kind of message. It glorifies suicide.

Let’s get something straight here. Talking about suicide in no way glorifies it, and watching a television show where a young girl violently slits her wrists in the bathtub after being raped, after watching her best friend get raped does not glorify suicide. Exposing the way a mother reacts when she finds her daughter lying dead in the bathtub from self-inflicted wrist wounds does not glorify suicide.

Most people don’t commit suicide as a reaction to something. The girl in the show didn’t commit suicide because one bad thing happened to her. She was suicidal. She did not react to a bad event and decide to kill herself. She was already going to kill herself, and her life experiences only increased the volume of the voices in her head telling her to do it.

Suicide is not a reaction. Suicide is an illness. A mental illness, and it’s more than a grasp for attention or a selfish act as I’ve recently read.

Suicide is not painless. It’s not an escape, a way out. If you crawl into the mind of a person who suffers with suicidal thoughts, you might be enlightened as to what you’ll learn. In his world where suicidal ideation controls his mind, he is in constant tug of war with himself and the inner voices. In his head, suicide is the most selfless act that he can commit because that’s what they tell him over and over and over again

He will no longer plague the world. Everyone will be better off without him, and the voices in his head keep shouting it. Until he can no longer tune them out, until his world is an echo of screams saying, “Do it. Do it. Do it. The world will be better without you in it.”

So he ties a rope around his neck and hangs himself.

And we gasp at our loss and mourn an icon, a singer, a comedian, a writer, and this list goes on. We watch the news and hear about more teenagers taking their own lives, but in most cases, it’s not because of a television show or a book or a song.  We want to blame the book. We want to blame the song. We want to blame something. But the truth is, the only thing to blame is an illness, an illness that takes more lives than cancer.

The country is talking about suicide today, and we need to continue to talk until everyone who doesn’t suffer from mental illness understands that the world of someone with suicidal ideation is different than yours.  The mind of a person who’s plagued with suicidal thoughts, cannot compare to the mind of someone who isn’t. We need to educate ourselves to better understand this population of people so that we can support them the way they need our support.

We need to watch the television shows. We need to read the books. We need to talk to our friends who are open enough to expose their struggles, and we need to break the stigma of mental illness. 

We must keep talking about it. About suicide and depression. About all mental illness. We need to quit throwing around the word crazy like a hot potato. We must stop ignoring the signs. We must advocate for better access to mental health care professionals for people who suffer from this very deadly illness.

Someone dies by suicide in America every thirteen minutes. While you are reading these words, a person sits in her bathroom with a razor against her wrist and quiets the voices in her head, the ones who keep screaming at her, for good.

depression meme

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Dear Mom

I didn’t buy you a card this year. I always spend a lot of time looking through all of the cards, humor cards and sentimental cards alike, but this year I couldn’t find one that worked.

Nothing quite put into words the impact you leave on this world, on my world. There wasn’t a card that said, Your laugh is the best sound on Earth. I couldn’t find one that said I see so much of you in my daughter. She’s wild and fierce and brave and strong, just like you, Mom. There were no cards that described the days when I get to talk to you and how they are a little less stressful and hurried, that I’m more grounded and calm when I get to hear your voice. None put into words the way I feel when I come home, when I sit at your table while we have our morning coffee.

I read card after card and replaced each in it’s little bin, unable to commit to one.

Because you’re bigger than a card and greater than someone else’s words.

You’re my mother, which now that I’m a mother too, I understand how important that role is, and I realize how fortunate I am that I get to be your daughter.

Thank you today and everyday for all that you’ve done and do.

I love you.

 

Mandi and Mom

Can We Talk About Teacher Appreciation Week?

Dear Teachers,

Can we talk about Teacher Appreciation Week?

I promise I didn’t miss it. I saw the nine reminders in my children’s take home folders letting me know that in my town and across all of America, it’s Teacher (and Staff) Appreciation Week, and I think it’s great. I’m all for it. I appreciate the teachers.

I see your tired eyes as May approaches and you are destined to review over and over the fundamentals that will be tested on the upcoming standardized test. I notice how slowly you’re walking into the school these days when, in October, you still had a little pep in your step. I understand that the kids are so over school and learning and behaving that they’ve resorted to bringing those annoying spinners into classrooms thus making the already gray hairs growing out of your overworked heads even longer. I see you at lunch duty barely able to keep your eye roll to yourself as yet another kindergartner asks you to open her ketchup.

I get it. It’s May. You’re done, dreaming about sunshine and pools and sleeping in and not having to listen to thirty students talk all at the same time. I don’t blame you. You’ve worked hard this year. I praise you and all that you’ve done for my children, more than you know.

I am grateful to the PTA who have taken this week on like thirsty travelers stranded in the desert searching for water. Thank goodness for those PTA women who speed too fast through the parking lot during drop off so that they can get their freshly baked muffins into the office in time for you to enjoy them. To those PTA moms, I applaud you (but slow the F down in the school parking lot. Please.)

I think it is fantastic that they (I would include myself, but I only pay my PTA dues and don’t volunteer, so I will give credit where credit is due) have procured lunch for the staff every day this week. I love the new yard art and the big signs when you walk into the school announcing that we, at our elementary school, love and appreciate our teachers and staff. Because we do. We appreciate you. I appreciate you.

In fact, I appreciate you so much that I went through my stack of paperwork to see what my role in teacher’s appreciation week is only to find that tomorrow, my child is supposed to bring his teacher(s) a gift from their “favorites” list. No problem.

Until I started adding it up in my head. My son has three main teachers, three P.E. coaches, an art teacher, and a music teacher. Let’s not forget about his principal, assistant principal, nurse, assistant nurse, librarian, counselor, and crossing guard. All of whom are listed. Ok, the crossing guard isn’t listed, but ALL OF THE OTHERS ARE. Thus making me think I am required to bring a gift for each of these fabulous hard working and well deserved people who touch my child on a daily basis. Who I really really appreciate.

That is fourteen people, and that’s just for my son. Subtract two, and that’s how many hard working, wonderful, fabulous, amazing people touch my daughter on a daily basis. The total number of wonderful, fabulous, hardworking, amazing staff members that require a gift from my pocket book tomorrow is: twenty-six.

Twenty-six gifts if I do as instructed by the note left in each of my children’s folder and “please show our teachers and staff some love with a gift of appreciation from their *favorites list.” I don’t really understand the purpose of the * either, but I’m quoting here.

So let’s do some math – because it’s almost STAAR time. Twenty-six people who truly affect and change my children’s lives on a daily basis should receive gifts tomorrow if I adhere to the rules of the note.

Let’s see what’s on their *favorites list: (just realized I left out the cafeteria lady (listed) who’s a doll and has the best smile, so total is now twenty eight because I have two kids and one kid can’t be the one who gives the teacher/staff member a gift because then the other kid looks like a cheap schmuck and we can’t have that.)

The *favorites list includes things like Amazon, Bath & Body Works, and the ever inexpensive Dallas Cowboys. I’m pretty sure there isn’t anything under $10 with the Dallas Cowboys logo on it, so let’s choose $10.00 as a nice round number.

Word problem: If a mother has twenty-eight people who require a gift from their *favorite list, and she spends $10 on each gift, how much does she spend in total?

$280.00

TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY DOLLARS. (plus tax).

Teachers, staff, and crossing guard, I appreciate the hell out of you. I know that your job requires more patience, understanding, continuing education, and overall stamina than I have in me, and I know that I could never do it. You deserve so much more than a $10.00 pencil from the Dallas Cowboys store.

What I want you to give you is higher pay, better benefits (teacher’s health care is ridiculously expensive), more resources so that you do not have to use your own incredibly hard earned money on supplies for your classroom. I want to give you my respect, and my applause for your dedication in changing both of my children’s futures, and my undying gratitude for the sacrifices you make every single day so that my child can have a brighter tomorrow. You are true heroes, their heroes and mine, and there isn’t an Amazon gift card large enough to show our appreciation for you, but I can promise you this:

I will go to the polls on Saturday and every other election day, and I will vote for the officials who lobby against cuts to our public school system. Education and your pension, salaries, etc. will always be a deciding factor when I make my choices.

I do appreciate you, and I promise to choose you and what’s best for your future when I make my selections for the people who make decisions for you because you are paramount in shaping my children’s future, and there is no dollar amount I can offer you to show you how truly grateful I am to you.

Teacher Appreciation