Suicidal Ideation is still an ‘Unspeakable Evil’ we refuse to talk about
“Shame derives its power from being unspeakable.” — Brene Brown
Being faced the with realisation that you’re considering ending your life, for the first time, is heckin’ scary. Sometimes it can be enough to shake you out of it… and sometimes it can’t.
I remember the feeling when I realised for myself. It was one of the most terrible feelings that I’d ever felt. I felt disgusting. Pathetic.
Shame that I’d become one of ‘those’ people (or so said the voice in me), that I’m weak and being dramatic.
But it’s not shameful. It’s just another symptom.
Feeling ashamed of suicidal thoughts is like being ashamed of getting a runny nose when you have a cold… which sounds absurd! Would you be ashamed of getting a headache if you were dehydrated?
The shame that comes with these thoughts isn’t something that can be attributed to a single source in most cases, but because society still subconsciously stigmatizes suicide and those that consider it, people have started to equate ‘suicidal thought’ with ‘man on a ledge’.
And that can be true in some cases, but this kind of pigeonholing can alienate those that think they fall into this ‘out of control’ category… and lead them into believing that they have no choices but to surrender to the feeling, which is both dangerous and misleading.
One of the things that my ex-boss used to tell me was that he handled me with ‘careful gloves’. So what did I feel?
Infantilized. Guilty. Deceptive.
This kind of thinking instills the idea that we’re some kind of quivering box of nitro, like the ones in Crash Bandicoot, just waiting to explode if someone touches us. Just another thing in our lives that we have no control over.
Yes, we need compassion, but we don’t need empathy. We don’t need people to feel for us, we need people to understand… but even more than that, WE need to understand what’s happening to ourselves.
Everyone goes on about ‘talk if you need help” or “I’m always here if you need a talk’, but no-one teaches people in this situation how to appropriately ask for help and set boundaries for that help… so we end up with people bottling it in until they find the nearest person and leap at them like a life-raft.
Thus perpetuating the whole ‘out of control and barely hanging on’ stigma.
How many times have you only heard from a friend in need when they’re having a really, really, really bad day?
Perhaps the reason why talking about suicide seems to be a last resort… is because people instantly freak out? And who wants that kind of attention?
There needs to be more clarity around how to communicate mental health needs, not just for those with suicidal tendencies, but anxiety and even atypical behaviors, along with how to respond in a way that won’t escalate the matter.
Mental Health is a spectrum; so when these issues are spoken about, the lines shouldn’t be drawn between what is ‘normal’ and what isn’t ‘normal’. Simply what is asked for, and what is needed.