Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, Chester Bennington, Robin Williams. This is most certainly a short list of people in the spotlight who have committed suicide. They had fame, often fortune and lived under a microscope. And then we have the “not famous” people who we all know who have committed suicide. Some that have the fortune but perhaps not the fame. Those that exist amongst the marginalized and certainly not in the spotlight. Those that have private battles and some have public battles. Suicide is not a win or a loss of a battle. It is not a selfish or selfless act. It is not strength or weakness. It is pain.
Kelli and I wear matching “gr;t” tattoos. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the semicolon project I highly recommend a google search as I feel it would be insightful. Essentially the semicolon symbolizes “my story isn’t over yet.” Grit comes from a best friend who kindly renamed our stubbornness to “having grit.” This tattoo that we wear is in solidarity and openness to the mental health community. Those of you that feel invisible, we see you and we are not the only ones.
Imagine if you experienced ALL the beauty and ALL the pain of the world. Most of us are wired for self-preservation so that we filter the world we see in front of us. Yes, that sky is beautiful but it doesn’t make me cry. Yes, the commercial with starving children makes me want to act but I shelter myself from the pain of their hunger. Myself, for example, I can’t watch movies about animals being hurt or killed. It impacts me more than it “should.” That’s one part of me that I am unable to filter. Now imagine if your filter leaks (like mine for animals) and you experience all the pain and beauty of the world. It is not about weakness because it takes strength to wake up everyday knowing that you live with the responsibility of the worlds’ happiness on your shoulders.
My point is, I beg you to stand together. To have compassion and dare I say empathy for your friends, family, neighbors and loved ones. Those that are left behind are reeling from their loss and yet feel shamed by the cause of death. Embrace them and tell them that you don’t care about the how, you care about the loss. To the beautiful souls who are struggling to carry the burdens of the world, share them with someone else because no person can hold those on their own and you might be surprised by who is willing to share your burden. If we were all defined by our most emotionally reactive decision we would all be shocked at ourselves. To all, let’s stop this hiding and shaming. We are better than that. I know we are.