Friday, September 12, 2014

Suicide: No One Cares? It Depends on Who You Listen To

Do you struggle with suicidal ideation and keep it to yourself because so many people let you down? Do you have a hard time opening up to people about these dark feelings because you’re afraid of being rejected? You might be surprised to learn you’re in good company. A lot of suicidal people receive a slap in the face instead of a hand of support, metaphorically speaking. I’ve confided in family members, ecclesiastical leaders, and friends only to be let down time after time. Some people simply can’t handle the conversation. Their mind flees out of their ear in search of sunshine the moment you bring the subject up, leaving you sitting there in the dark, alone and ignored. Perhaps, however, you have bumped into the other type of listener. They tell you to suck it up and stop complaining. That you’re making a big deal out of nothing. That you need to grow up. Wake up! Get your act together! What is wrong with you!? You’re just looking for attention!! Then they ignore you.
Aren’t they just your favorite⸮ I put them on my list of people to call for emotional support right below the state tax commission. They didn’t used to be at the bottom of my list, but Doctor Laura lost her show. Sometimes, though, I’m lucky, and they reach out to me because of my blog.[1]
When I saw on Twitter that there was a lot of fear & suspicion regarding suicide hotlines, I thought I’d call one and see what it was like. That phone call, and a few followups, helped me write “What To Expect When You Call a Suicide Prevention Hotline”. It is currently the most popular article that I’ve written (replacing my 10 Ways to Fight Off Depression article). So imagine my puzzlement when I discovered this gem today:
NO ONE CARES. WAKE UP… NO ONE CARES. ~Peter (found here)
It had been lurking on my blog for two months[2] and I never noticed it. I’m not sure which was more tragic: that somebody took time to write something so unkind, or that five people agreed with him. I wasn’t hurt, however. On the contrary, I believe in what I’m doing and know that people out there like my writing. Coincidentally, I had discovered one such person in my inbox and had planned on sharing her email this week.
Hi Mr. Cootey,
I’m sure you’re used to these types of emails by now but I really felt the need to reach out and thank you for your writing. A few minutes ago I Googled, “What happens when you call a suicide hotline?”and your article came up. You can obviously guess my state of mind right now since I was contemplating calling a suicide prevention hotline, but it’s nothing I haven’t dealt with before. I was diagnosed with manic depression when I was 13, and even though I am now 26 the shame surrounding it is still very much there. I’ve been managing it over the years with medication and psychotherapy, but I’ve never really considered calling a prevention line until recently. My low’s usually occur after 2am so I’m usually low on resources when I really need them. Your article made me feel a lot safer about using a hotline if I ever really needed to, and I really want to say thank you for that.
I’ve read a few other blog entries on the site and will certainly be reading more in the future. I am a Media and Communications major at the University of █████, and besides your writing resonating with me due to my ability to relate to the content, I have the utmost respect for someone who can use this type of platform responsibly while still being able to entertain. I wish you the best of luck and much success.
Thank you, J. Sherbert
Miss Sherbert,
Thank you so much for writing to me. I never get used to those types of emails. They are dear and precious to me because I know how hard it is for people struggling with these issues to reach out. I’m sure you’ve experienced your unfair share of Peters in your years working towards happiness. It’s a hard fight, and you’ve taken all the right steps. I hope that your experience with the suicide hotline was a positive one. As with anything, your experience depends on the person on the other line. If my experience is any sort of indication, however, you likely reached somebody who was very concerned for you and gave you the support you needed. Thanks for fighting. Thanks for living. If you wish to reach out to me privately and let me know how things went, I’d love to hear from you again.
I can focus on the Peters of this life or I can focus on the Miss Sherbets. It’s my choice. I prefer to believe that my writing is doing some good and reaching people who might not be otherwise getting the support they need. I hope that you can focus on the sources of light in your life, too. We deal with enough darkness without hateful people adding to it.

Reposted from May 2014

  1. When a blogging friend asked me why I didn’t moderate my comments, and why I left comments like Peter’s on my blog, I told her that I liked to let the hateful comments stand. I’ll yank comments that are laced with profanity, or comments that are spam, but spiteful comments stand as a testimony of the mind that made them. I want my readers to see that I deal with that crap, too, and I survive. They can survive, too.  ↩
  2. I’m pretty bad about keeping on top of comments here. Oh, I love getting comments, but I recently discovered that an old Gmail script I created years ago to organize my email was still active and happily archiving (i.e. hiding) every comment alert from my blog. Now I know why I’ve been missing all your excellent replies. It’s going to require a time machine to get through them all.  ↩