For years, there have been posts circulating around Facebook (and Tumblr) that state “REPOST THIS IF…” fill in the blank. Nine times out of ten, it’s something stupid like “repost if you like grapes,” but every so often it’s things like “repost if you would talk someone out of suicide.” Now, although there are self-righteous pricks out there who are all talk, I understand that most people who share such things have only love in their hearts. For that I am appreciative and grateful. However, there is an extremely dangerous misconception at work here. That being, teenagers, young adults, even grown men and women CANNOT talk people out of suicide through Facebook messenger, texting, what have you. This is the case for a number of reasons:
1. You are not a doctor. (Most likely.) You are not a therapist. You did not go to graduate school for psychology and you are not trained to handle those types of situations. If someone goes to you and confides that they are feeling suicidal, tell them you are there for them and you love them and support them, and ENCOURAGE THEM TO GET HELP. Professional help. If you sense a real risk here, call the police and have them do a welfare check.
2. Most people who are seriously considering suicide are not going to shoot you a message on Facebook telling you about it. This is a bitter realist that I have learned through life experience. There are people who are afraid and so they talk, and that doesn’t mean they aren’t at risk or lying. They need help. But most of the time, those who have made the decision to do so are just going to go do it. This is not a universal truth. I have had friends threaten suicide to me over the phone, hang up, and overdose. But it is important to keep this in mind.
3. Instant messaging and texting is an extremely impersonal method of communication. I’m not trying to condemn it; I use both of those things on a regular basis. But if someone’s life is in danger, reading some words on a screen means very little and there is too much room for miscommunication. If you are dealing with someone who is unstable, the last thing you want to do is accidentally upset them further. Just call the cops and speak with them on the phone if you think it will help.
I’m not speaking as someone with direct authority on the matter. I speak only from the experience I have had, which unfortunately has been pretty substantial. Throughout high school I had people threaten suicide to me and I was under this same misconception then that I had the power to stop it. I could save them. Which brings me to my final point. The biggest reason I caution you away form these sorts of posts and beliefs is because:
YOU CANNOT PUT THAT KIND OF RESPONSIBILITY ON YOURSELF. You are a loving, compassionate human and you only want to help and make this world a better place. But if someone is in such a bad state of mind and they take their own lives you cannot put that on your conscience. If you go into it with the mindset of “I can do it! If I just give it my all and show them how much I love them, there is no way they would do it!” and that is how the world should work. But it doesn’t. And that isn’t your fault so don’t try to make it seem like your fault.
If you want to help, reblog the local suicide hotline, as I will in this post. Give people resources to get help.
Hang in there, gang.
(this site lists hotlines by state for the U.S.)
(this site lists international suicide hotlines)
Death is a strange beast.
I think I learned something important about myself today. I’m kind of damaged. I’m really not okay in coping with the loss of Paula. It seems that the only times I feel alright it’s because my brain just shuts off. As soon as I remember again, I feel like I’m right back where I started on September 14th. I’ve been really frustrated with this and I feel like I ought to be making some sort of arbitrary progress. But I’ve learned that it’s okay to be not okay.
I’ve also realized that I need to give myself a chance. The standards to which I hold myself are drastically unfair. I don’t want to let myself be upset, let myself cry, let myself talk about it because I feel like I ought to be “better” than that. It’s as if I hold myself responsible for upholding this false image of what strong is. I think I figured out that I got it in my head that to be in so much pain, seven months after the fact, was disgracing her memory. She brought so much joy to those around her and I know she wouldn’t want me to be in pain at the thought of her. But all this is incredibly self-destructive. Abusing myself mentally this way is no better than dragging a blade across my skin. Paula would want me to be happy, sure, but she would, above all, want me to take care of myself. And she would certainly want me to grieve in the way that is best for me. Whatever that means.
There are so many different ways to grieve. No two people are the same in how they handle death. I have to stop comparing myself to others because even if they knew her like I did, I’m my own person. I am confident that there will come a day I can look back on the twenty years I was able to spend with her and be happy. Today is not that day and that is perfectly alright. Consider this a pep-talk to myself.
Death sucks. To lose someone you love is so unbearably shitty and it is going to hurt for a good long while. Those who bring us the most joy are the hardest to lose. Today we lost a Paula-esque figure at my college and I really felt guilty for feeling so tortured by my recent past because I didn’t feel that I was really grieving for him. But in truth, I didn’t know Brett like others did. He was an absolute pleasure to work with and I enjoyed every moment I was around him. Sometimes witnessing the loss of others can trigger memories of our own losses. This is normal and this is acceptable. I have to start viewing my emotions as valid and normal.
It’s always the Brett’s or the Paula’s of the world.
Brett died this morning after suffering a second massive stroke. He underwent emergency surgery and it failed. This is a song I’ve sung before.
Every day I got to work with Brett was a good day. His smile was infectious and he always had a good joke to tell. He was a brilliant musician with the most gentle and kind soul.
There had been too much of this shit for one year.
(In reference to a post I made in March.)
My post was a generalization, certainly, but it’s purpose was to illustrate that women aren’t always shady, cryptic riddle masters and that they do say what they mean. I have witnessed all too often men get rejected by a woman and assume that she is playing “hard to get” or assume what you have described to me here. I’m not going to say all women are blameless angels who can do no wrong. But I think it is important to listen and honor the wishes of another human being, even if those wishes do not match your own. And this door swings both ways. No one should feel pressured into having sex, regardless of gender or orientation. Anyone should be able to say they aren’t interested and feel safe doing so.
You appear to be quite jaded in your message here. Although this could be simply an opportunity to be an anonymous troll, I hope that it does not come from a place of genuine hurt. If you have had a negative experience that has twisted your outlook on women as a whole, I am sorry. I agree that people, man or woman, ought not jump into a romantic pursuit with the mindset that they can/will “change” the other person. To change the behavior of another human being is a fruitless effort. People are the way they are and if they want to change, only they, themselves, have the ability to do so.
TL;DR - Everyone should have the right to say no. Everyone should have the decency to respect that choice.