Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH!
After taking a mini hiatus away from TNTH after the Blogust series, we are finally getting back on our usual schedule! So, why not begin our scheduling with one of my favorite posts to publish every month:
Last September, I published a post in regards of September being Suicide Prevention Month. With every “awareness month” subject that is known, it seems as if many of us only speak about these serious topics when the time is appropriate, and when others are discussing it as well. Mental health is one of those conversations that I would like to think we are proudly talking about consistently, but I do see the shift in convo every once and a while when things “quiet down”, especially in the media.
Almost two weeks ago, rapper Mac Miller was found dead inside of his California home by a friend, to what TMZ reported was from an apparent overdose. This is the narrative we’ve been hearing a lot of recently within the last decade: Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, Lil Peep, and was almost Demi Lovato’s fate as well. Addiction seems to be on high alert nowadays, and in the media, it seems to be the leading cause of a lot of these high-profile deaths. While some of these apparent overdoses may not have been influenced by the thought of suicide, overdosing to the point of death can be classified under the same umbrella as those who commit suicide in other methods.
These deaths caused by overdoses are an example of just how important it is to prioritize mental health and how we could prevent more suicides from happening. This conversation doesn’t end with Mac Miller’s death, and it doesn’t start back up when the next celebrity is found dead or hospitalized due to an apparent overdose or apparent suicide.
The conversation starts by educating those about suicide and breaking society’s myths on it:
- Myth #1: “SUICIDE IS SELFISH.” We must stop putting blame on those who decide to take their own life without considering the people who they leave behind. It’s not that they don’t care about the ones they love, it’s the fact that they personally believe that their lives would be better without them in it or that they feel so misunderstood by those around them, they truly feel alone. I know during my dark times of depression that there were people who loved me and cared for my well being. Yet I still felt alone. I still felt like a burden to those around me, and I felt like life would be better off without me. Of course, I didn’t want to hurt those who cared about me, and I’m still here because of my loved ones. But not everyone’s lucky, and not everyone has that mentality. People who commit suicide are not selfish, because suicidal people live their lives without any sort of control or grasp of it.
- Myth #2: “Most people who have their mind made up to commit suicide do it at times when they are sad.” Many people assume that they can detect a suicidal person just by how “depressed” and “sad” they are at that immediate moment. Way back when I was an undergrad studying psychopathology as a minor, I remember my professor telling us that a lot of people contemplating suicide are not doing it when they are sad or depressed because of the amount of energy needed in order to go through with it. Suicides (as sad as it is) are more than likely strictly planned; they are rarely just random bursts of action. In the twist of things, many people who survive their attempted suicides report that before doing so, they felt energized enough to go through with it. So in summary, it’s very hard for people to detect a person in which they are planning to end their lives. They may have such a great day the night before they do it; you never can anticipate when a person is suicidal and when they are going to attempt suicide.
- Myth #3: Committing suicide is always caused by someone else and their actions towards that suicidal person. As much as I enjoy the overall novel of Jay Asher’s “Thirteen Reasons Why”, it depicts this picture that suicide is always because someone caused them to do that to themselves. No, you can’t hold others responsible for your own poor mental health. Yeah, bullying and teasing and blackmailing could be the cause of your poor mental health (mine definitely was), but you are responsible for your own personal actions. A novel like “Thirteen Reasons Why” where the topic of suicide is “artistic” and fictionalized to fit within its genre, it shouldn’t read to those as the right way to handle suicide and mental health. It does not make you powerful and remembered to leave a bunch of tapes for your “haterz” and blame them for causing your suicide attempt. So for those who read the novel or watched the series and think that this is the only way to “get back” at those who got you to this point, there are so many other ways to get yourself better, and that starts with talking to someone about the issues at hand.
- Myth #4: “Only weak people commit suicide.” People who feel like there’s no way out of their personal torment commit suicide. People who feel like their lives aren’t worthy of living anymore commit suicide. Even the strongest people in your life could be suicidal. Suicide wears the most invisible mask sometimes, and as previously stated, you never know what could happen next. When I was having suicidal thoughts back in high-school, I looked happy. I laughed. I was able to pass all my classes and keep a great average every trimester. I was singing in the most tedious choir. I had college coming up for me. I looked as put together as one sees it. But nobody ever knew when the days turned into nights, I was swimming in my depression. I cried on my bathroom floor during all hours of the night. My actions lead me into dangerous territories. I self-harmed. My point being: it could happen to anyone.
I may be missing a lot more other myths that people believe about suicide, but these are the ones that honestly bother me, and that I personally wish people would understand. As stated in last year’s post, I am a huge mental health advocate and I take the conversation of suicide extremely seriously because I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum: I’ve been the suicidal person and I’ve been the loved one who has watched someone be the suicidal person.
For something to be the second highest cause of death between the ages of 10 and 34 in the United States, we need to be taking it more seriously.
Let’s talk more than its designated prevention month.