Jacob Flowers is a Photo & Video Editor for the Vitruvian Post. For the past sixteen years, he’s dabbled in poetry and other mediums of creative...
Why We Need to Discuss Suicide
November 19, 2019
For the most part, September 21, 2018 was a beautiful day. The sun poked its eyes just above the horizon, illuminating a dormant world of infinite possibilities. The aromatic scent of dew rose from the grass like a soft, caressing breeze. The idle chatter of L.A.’s many students disrupted the cacophony of traffic flooding the freeways. In all regards, this day was perfect.
Little did the world know that I was plotting to end my life that day.
For a few moments, let’s step back to a simpler time. To a time when the hum of cars seemed so distant from my old, suburban campus. To a time when I wasn’t alone. In the spring of 2018, I managed to discover a person so extraordinarily gorgeous that I couldn’t imagine a reality without them. That individual just so happened to be my girlfriend at the time. Somehow, her mere presence lifted my spirits so high that I no longer felt the ground when I strode through the halls. I was soaring far above the cold concrete sidewalk, and I had no intention of coming back down. You see, my undying affinity didn’t stem from pure love. If that were the case, it probably would’ve persisted beyond my abrupt departure from my old school. No, this infatuation was heavily rooted in my burdensome issues.
Although I’ve made it seem like this issue sprung from my mind without cause, suicide has weighed heavily on every aspect of my life for years. Prior to my relationship, I suffered from debilitating depression that crippled me in countless ways. It was (and still is) like every single one of my cells rioting against even the most basic human functions. However, I was unable to truly reach out for help. Sure, my parents could attempt to console me as I languished in my own body. It wasn’t enough. I felt exceedingly strange and ousted myself from any form of expression. I attempted suicide in some capacity multiple times throughout both middle school and my freshman year, and I lost all hope of recovery. That was the case, at least, until I eventually found my girlfriend.
Despite her own issues, I managed to confide heavily in my relationship. Through her, I vicariously worked through and subsequently resolved my own issues. I was addicted to her in a sense. Not necessarily in a romantic way, but rather in a cathartic way. That addiction suppressed both my problems and my common sense. I neglected to acknowledge the blatantly foreseeable issues with my relationship, and the divide between the both of us began to grow.
On that sunny September day, every minor altercation and aggressive remark culminated into a devastating argument that tore us apart. On that day, my world went dark. I drifted through the school day like a soul in search of a body, hugging the walls and clinging to my frigid pockets. I aimlessly floated through the halls of a house that seemed so unfamiliar. When I finally wandered into night that possessed my room, my body limply collapsed onto my decrepit chair. The sun, now perched upon the brick wall outside of my window, no longer smiled back at me. Its lifeless face was consumed by the flames it created. In that moment, scarlet blinded my tired eyes. The end sat closely on the desk beside me. I reached out to take his hand, and I grazed his wilted fingertips.
He didn’t pull me towards him.
There I sat with my sullen face pressed into the worn seat of my chair. Salty tears seared my face, branding me with a scar that still hides beneath my skin. The person on the end of the line coaxed me into peaceful sobbing, unaware of the deed I attempted. My mind was fractured into a billion shards of foggy glass, but he was there to help me reassemble them. In my spell of unbridled emotion, I reached out and hoped for salvation. Fortunately, this individual provided it for me. While I was suffocating behind a muted microphone, he tried to nurture me back to sanity. While I reached for the tool, he reassured me that I’d be okay. Suffice to say, it worked wonders.
You might think that this story was meant to discourage the pursuit of unhealthy relationships or to warn about addiction. Although they definitely played their roles in my tragic story, the true purpose is to encourage those who need it to seek help and those who have power to address the problem.
Over the past two decades, suicide has become more prevalent and troubling. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is considered the 10th leading cause of death the United States. Moreover, suicide was the 2nd leading cause of death among those aged 10 to 34 in 2017. Suicide rates haven’t been this high since 2000, and it seems that they’re not coming down.
Given its prominence, it would be expected that suicide would be confronted by some important figure in America. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Despite its profound effect on American society, suicide remains a furtive killer. Silence gives way to perceived indifference, and indifference drives people to ultimately end their lives. Besides, politicians have much better things to do instead of addressing America’s growing suicide issue. They have obscene tweets to write and hostile speeches to deliver.
In a world where talking about suicide is looked at as depressing and bleak, many of those suffering have no outlet to express their feelings. As a result, they’re forced into adopting unhealthy coping mechanisms. Although it may seem like a solution at the time, many of these methods only suppress their emotions and exacerbate the issue as it progresses. This lack of dialogue regarding the issue gives them no other choice, and society shuns them as a result.
If we as a country confronted this epidemic, we may be able to curb the rising suicide rates. Many people are reluctant to possibly spread the idea to depressed people, but the IHP clarifies that it’s nothing more than a stigma. Moreover, the ASFP states that the best way to prevent suicide is to detect it as early as possible. Without that, those who suffer from suicidal ideation have nothing to stop them from proceeding. If we want change, we have to cultivate it.
To those who are considering, please seek help. No hardship can improve without fearlessly acknowledging that it’s a hardship in the first place. I understand that fear is extremely difficult to overcome, but you have to take a leap of faith. The likelihood of facing ridicule and social ostracism is slim, and you can always reach out to people anonymously through crisis hotlines and text chats if you don’t feel comfortable.
If we don’t confront the issue, nothing will be done. If we don’t reach out to those who are afflicted, they will proceed with their plans. The root of attempting suicide is isolation. If we collectively devote our efforts to check on one another, we can prevent this. Silence isn’t the answer: speaking up is.