Monday, June 22, 2015

The Problem with Drive-by Suicide Notes

New commenting policy in effect.

For over ten years I have reached out to this community. I have shared my experiences with you so that you don’t feel alone, and I have tried to comfort commenters to the best of my ability. Although comments are severely down since we have entered the Age of Facebook, I appreciate all the thoughtful, intelligent replies that my readers leave. I am not always neurologically online and able to respond to them in a timely manner, but I do make an effort to reply to everybody.

Lately, however, there has been a new breed of commenter. Ever since my article “What To Expect When You Call a Suicide Prevention Hotline” overtook “Depression: Ten Ways to Fight It Off”, Part 1 and Part 2 as my most popular article, there have been lonely, desperate posts left in the comments section. Most of the time they are anonymous. I call them Drive-by Suicide Notes or Death Spam.

Imagine you wake up one morning and discover an anonymous post-it note on your front door that says, “I can’t go on.” If you are any kind of decent human being, your heart will lurch in alarm as you cast your eyes about to see who left the note. Who needs help?! But there is nobody there. Imagine that happening on your door, several times a month for over a year and a half. This is what is happening to me.

Are they real lost souls crying out for help? Are they just trolls? It doesn’t matter. Even posting anonymously isn’t the issue. This would be just as stressful for me if the drive-by suicide notes were signed John, Brittney, Abigail, or Taylor.

Since I’m disabled, sometimes I’m offline for a few days at a time. Imagine you came home from a vacation and found a suicide note left on your door dated five days ago. How would you feel? Either you wouldn’t care or you would care deeply. No prizes for guessing which one of those I experience.

There is another side to this that I haven’t mentioned yet. These drive-by suicide notes dredge up memories and feelings for me. It’s a painful experience, and one that leaves me no outlet because the posters NEVER visit my blog again. Not a single one of them. I can’t help them. Even if they leave an email address, they never respond. They just splatter my comments section with their darkness and move on. I apply my coping strategies, I take a few deep breaths, and I press on. However, if I feel this way, what about my readers who are coming to my blog to be lifted up? What about those who are struggling and need light, not darkness? I worry deeply about all of you. If death spam is a kick to my heart, is it a kick to yours as well?

It’s time to inform you of my new policy. I deleted my third drive-by suicide note tonight in the past few weeks. It read simply, “Don’t know how much longer I can hang on.” This time there was an email attached, so I reached out in private. If you need help, I thank you for finding my site. Let us know what you are going through and some of my readers and I will do our best to help you, but pessimistic notes of despair can’t have a home in my comments section anymore. This site is about being upbeat and fighting mental health issues with all your might, heart, and strength (with maybe a little humor to boot). There is a difference between “I am having a hard time. What should I do?” and “What’s the point in living?”. One is solution orientated, and the other is wallowing in misery. Readers come here for solutions and encouragement.

Thank you for your understanding.