So, I just "liked" the Stop Teen Suicide group on Facebook, because I was sick of being inundated with everyone else's concerns and wanted to hear a little about mine. Now I get inundated by inspirational quotes from Stop Teen Suicide, which apparently are supposed to help stop teen suicide. And it really shows how much these self-proclaimed humanitarians don't understand about suicide in general.
Suicide involves a state of mind. A really specific, engrossed, obsessed state of mind that cannot be cracked or broken by a few words of kindness. Sometimes a phone call or deep conversation can stem the urge to hurt oneself, but the obsession is still there and will continue to remain until real help is found. A person doesn't just hold a gun to their head, or a knife to their wrist, unless they are really, truly sick and fully convinced that death is the only way out of their pain. Even if it is their first attempt at suicide, it is probably not the first time they have concieved or planned the idea. Suicide is really just the end product of a long - LONG - chain of events, non-events, and twisted thought processes on the part of the victim.
If inspirational quotes were really that helpful, we wouldn't have nearly so many parents burying their children.
Suicide is not rational. It is not an idea that can be argued. It's not like, "Oh, I thought potato chips were good for me, but then I found out they were unhealthy, and I stopped eating them." No. When you are suicidal, you are simply suicidal. There is a little voice in the back of your mind saying, "Wait - you might wanna reconsider, because this could be a mistake." But in general you feel like you have no other choice. You don't care about your self-respect. You don't care about your future. You don't care about your friends or family, because you are under the impression that they don't care about you. If they are insightful enough to try to intervene, you can barely hear or process what they are saying. Everything is a blur. Nothing makes sense except for the feeling that you are totally worthless and would be better off dead.
People who are suicidal do not tell anybody how they feel because they do not want to be judged. They don't want anyone to think they are disturbed, or crazy, or weird. They don't want to admit they are in pain because they don't want any sympathy. They doubt that anyone will understand. And usually they are proven right, because if they do reveal their feelings, all they get is an emotionally charged lecture on the virtues of staying alive. The lecturer has no idea that the victim doesn't care about life at all.
I remember when I finally got up the courage to tell my Mom I had been hitting myself. For years. And she freaked out, and cried, and blamed me for being selfish and not considering her feelings for me.
"Thanks, Mom. If I wasn't planning on killing myself before, I certainly am now!"
My Mom totally missed the point that I had a long-term illness. She wanted me to leave my college roommate, as if that would solve the problem. She didn't listen to the fact that I had been hitting msyelf for many years while living right under her nose. She couldn't stand the idea that her own child was screwed up and she had been totally clueless. She couldn't face the responsibility of that fact. And even in my warped state of sanity, I was still able to think, "Really, Mom. This is quite a shame."
Look, I am all for preventing suicide. But the first thing to do is make a person feel comfortable in sharing their thoughts. Shoving mindless quotes from famous people down a teenager's throat is not going to work in the long term. People who are suicidal are very introspective and have somehow thought themselves into a very complicated box. One little quote is not going to lead them out, and you insult their intelligence by assuming it will. Once that's done, the victim does not trust you to listen anymore. They think they are alone, and you have just assured them that they are.
So please, quit with the cute quotes and take some time to understand.