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[personal profile] skonen_blades
This is a note concerning suicide prevention awareness day.

When I was 11 or 12 years old, an odd teacher was brought in to teach our small Grade 7 class for two hours a week in elementary school. Some light acting, a little meditation, and one time, some astral travel. It was Nelson so that wasn't unusual. I still don’t really know what her ‘subject’ was. She was just given some time with us every week or so for a while. Miss Richards was her name.

One time she asked us to think of ten reasons not to kill ourselves.

I only came up with one reason: that my family and friends would miss me.

Offhandedly, she mentioned that if we couldn't think of ten reasons then we might as well kill ourselves right now. I remember her saying that like it was yesterday. It was like a lightning strike to me.

I thought about it for days. I was deeply worried and affected by the fact that I could only think of one reason.

I don’t remember having to tell the class about my list. I think she just wanted us to keep the list to think about if we ever got sad. Looking back on it, I guess she wanted us to think about ice cream and sunny days and petting cute dogs or things along those lines.

But to this day the reason I came up with is still the only reason I can come up with. It would damage the people close to me.

I tried to kill myself once when things got bad in the early nineties. I set the attempt to up to give myself an out and I took it and stopped before I lost consciousness.

Things got dark a few years later again. Bad breakup, no money, no job, depression. During one dark day, I was driving myself crazy with all the cyclical blackness in my mind so I decided to flip a coin because I couldn't even make the decision for myself. Heads, I go buy some pills and vodka. Tails, I keep going and get my shit together and I never let it get to this point again.

It came up tails.

Here we are in 2015.

I've told one or two people this story. One said "I bet when the coin was in the air, you really knew
which way you wanted to go."

Nope.

The other said "If it came up heads, you would have flipped it again."

Again, nope. I was fully committed to either outcome.

I'm here because of that coin toss. But I also haven't let it get that bad again either. Or maybe I've been lucky. Or stubborn.

And I didn't even have it that bad. I can only imagine if my state of mind at that time was constant. Or if I didn't have family or friends. I wouldn't stand a chance.

Sometimes I think maybe I surround myself with so many friends for just this reason. That they’re like my insurance policy. As long as I know that killing myself will hurt a lot of people, I can’t do it. I mean I genuinely like being around people that so there’s more to it than that but I wonder if that’s part of it.

So I'm thinking today of people I know that have killed themselves or have told me about their suicidal thoughts. I'm also thinking about the bone-deep subtle switch that can activate in a person that starts the road to checking out. There was one guy I know of who killed himself after hanging out with all of his friends at least once over the course of weeks, saying goodbye without saying goodbye, not telling any of them what he was planning, and it was only clear in retrospect. That blows my mind but I understand.

My love for my friends runs deep and intense. My feelings about suicide are complex.

I've seen a lot of posts today about this subject seeing as it's suicide prevention day and it's got me thinking. All I have to offer to people is that I'm very, very happy I didn't do it. Some of the greatest times I've had in my life have been in the last fifteen years. I've seen a lot of the world and met some frankly amazing people. I still have a propensity for darkness but I fight it.

My impression is that people who do have suicidal thoughts outnumber the people who don’t. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know. But I know that people don’t talk about it so we can’t really know. It’s not a huge, guilty secret to me but it sure is something I don’t talk about. I’ve moved on and I don’t want to be ‘that guy’.

Sometimes I’ll look at an empty chair at a table and think that maybe someone could be sitting there that would’ve been a really cool friend of mine but they’re dead now so I never got to meet them.

It’s one thing to lose someone you admire to a car crash or cancer but when the death is self-inflicted, it’s different. Everybody that’s left shares in a guilt that maybe there was something they could have done.

So if you're thinking of doing it and you're reading this, please don't. I could offer a dozen "just one more day" cliches but they didn't help me. All I can say is that you will be grateful you didn't at some point after you make the decision not to. It requires faith to believe that, though, and that can be hard to come by.

And I'm no expert on mental illness. That's a whole other thing. I’ve been really emotionally distraught but in retrospect, I don’t think I’ve ever been truly mentally ill or suffered a break with reality. That's something else. And if you’re in intense physical or mental anguish and it’s terminal then I believe you should do what you have to do.

But if those don’t apply and you're thinking about doing it, I hope you don't do it.

And in this moment, I love you.



tags

Date: 12 Sep 2015 00:30 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] themythicalman.livejournal.com
Thank-you for your story. Years ago, I went into Central Park in Burnaby with alcohol and sleeping pills, because I could see no other way out of a desperate, abusive situation. I'm glad that I survived, because had I not, I would never have had the chance to meet you and discover your wonderful wizardry with words. And I'm glad that you have survived, too, because the world needs your humour, beauty, and art.

I wish for both you and your family all the joy that you can summon for yourselves and each other.

Date: 12 Sep 2015 01:22 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] skonen-blades.livejournal.com
Thank you mythical man. I appreciate that a lot and I'm sorry to hear about your own troubles. I've really been enjoying your art.

Date: 16 Sep 2015 02:53 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] skonen-blades.livejournal.com
<3 yourself :)

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