Suicide makes people act super weird.
I’ve heard it a million times and I’m sure you have too. If you’re feeling suicidal you need to tell someone. But as someone who dances with death on a fairly regular basis… when do you know you’re crossing a line? When are you supposed to start talking?
The red flag that they look for tends to be whether or not you have a plan. If you’ve given thought to the method you would use, and in detail… that’s an indication that you’re crossing a threshold. The other signs are on the more subtle side. Some people give things away just because they feel generous. The boundary here seems to be whether or not the items are prized or important.
This is a definitive behaviour to watch for but it isn’t universal and it isn’t foolproof.
So they drive it home; talk talk talk. Don’t suffer in silence.
And I listened. I felt myself getting more fixated. I felt my flight reaction going from the desire to disappear and relocate to actually ceasing to exist. It’s not a good feeling. I don’t like it.
But here’s what happened.
Almost every person I have told… everyone I’ve reached out to…. they’ve reacted the same way.
“Don’t talk that way.”
It’s a natural reaction to my words. It’s not that the response surprises me, exactly. More that I’m struck by the underlying meaning. It’s an uncomfortable topic. I get that. But there’s something bigger at work in this.
It increases the potential of survivors guilt. And I hate that. Because every time I talk to someone about this and they shut me down for lack of any idea what to do or say…. it’s one more person who would reflect on my death as something they has a hand in.
People aren’t trying to ignore me. They’re not trying to shut me up or shut me down. It’s just that the majority of them have no idea what to do, or what this feeling is like or where it comes from.
And to a point, my rational mind identifies with that. Because the instinctual meaning of life is literally to stay alive and make more people. So it suicide completely counterintuitive? Doesn’t it fundamentally go against everything we’rewired to do? And as such… isn’t it hard for people to comprehend?
I guess so.
It’s uncomfortable. It’s awkward. But if we are to help those crossing this bridge, I really think we need to address this knee jerk reaction of…. “don’t say things like that.”
Because it’s not to scare you. And it’s not for attention. It’s like signalling a life guard when you’re in over your head. And if you’re the person being signalled it means that you are one of the few things that still makes sense in our lives. It means you’re one of the few people that we can trust. And I know that it’s heavy. I know. But just being heard and feeling supported is sometimes enough to keep us hanging on through to the next day.