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.