It always amazes me. In a world where so many discussions are becoming more open, there is one that is still hidden behind closed doors. We are willing to discuss different sexualities, genders, cultures, and religions; yet, when someone says the word suicide, the room becomes silent and the topic is quickly changed. However, it is a topic that needs a platform to be discussed on. It is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States alone. When people get tenth place in a competition, their name gets listed. But, when suicide is top ten for causes of death, the topic gets tucked under the sheets. A perfect example of this is the recent loss of the Amy Bleuel, the amazing young lady who founded Project Semicolon. I went to news outlets to read about this, but it took quite a few websites before I found out the cause of her death was suicide. In one post on Instagram, I came upon a question brought forth by someone that stated, “Why do some people kill themselves even when they are having a good life? Can somebody answer this for me as I just never understood the reason.” The proverbial question.
As a suicide attempt survivor, I was drawn to opening this conversation to help others understand and to perhaps educate the public. You see I was like most people, as a child I would catch bugs and run around all day with a mind full of dreams. It was simple. We would take family vacations to the lake, where I would climb rocks and hum tunes (most often the Star Wars theme song). I was free. Never during those years did I think about a future where I would be raped and then have to fight the battle against PTSD and depression for years to come. However, that is where my journey took me. My innocent mind and free thoughts turned into darkness and pain. As a survivor of those years I feel it is important to discuss my journey because I have no shame in the roads I have travelled, for they created the strong woman I am today. The one who can speak openly, help educate, and reach out to others to let them know they are never alone.
“Why do people kill themselves even when they are having a good life?”A question so many ask. For a moment, let us look at mental health diseases as just that, diseases. I have chronic hypertension I take medicine for daily. This is a disease. Although I run daily and take good care of myself, the disease is part of my genetic make-up. Mental health diseases are much the same. For some it is a chronic disease that requires a lifetime of medicine and for others, like myself, only a specific period requires counseling and medicine. People can have “good lives”, yet still live with a disease. I had a family who supported and loved me after my rape. They held me up for many years. To some my life on the outside would have looked “good”. Inside my mind, however, there was darkness. I could not see the “good”. I only saw a weak and ugly person, one that just dragged the people around her down. No matter how many times people told me they loved me and how beautiful or smart I was, the darkness inside my mind tortured me with words like slut or worthless. PTSD and depression were my disease. Like any disease, we tried different medications and various treatments. Just like any disease you do not just “pop a pill” and immediately feel better. During all of this the darkness tortured me and my feelings of worthlessness grew. I felt like a burden to those around me. A burden that did not need to exist. Was my life good? Perhaps yes, but the darkness would not let me see it. This led to suicide attempts. I did not want to be a burden. I wanted the people around me to have “good lives”. Mental health diseases engulf the mind with distorted thoughts, just as diabetes distorts insulin and sugar levels. During that time in my life my thoughts were distorted. I could not see past the darkness.
I am a survivor. I made it out of the darkness. Some people do not. For this reason, we need to be able to say the word suicide and need to stop hiding mental illness discussions behind closed doors. All of these marches and platforms we are seeing open up. So many topics that were once kept quiet, yet we are still unable to say the word suicide. Why? We need to pull down the cloud that surrounds mental illness and stop viewing suicide as a dirty word. How many lives could we save if we would stop the stigma and open the doors?