Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I'd like to think so.

My teens had a presentation about suicide and depression at school today....

I've been trying to understand a suicide for nearly 25 years.

Suicide is so confusing. There's always why. Even if you know, it's impossible to be know everything, to fully know, to fully comprehend. This is such a trivial comparison but it's like missing the end of an amazing movie, one of those movies that fills the empty spaces in the heart. But then it's left unfinished. The cartoon's fourth frame is missing. The painting is abandoned. And there's nothing left to do now. No way to see it complete. The director stopped directing. No way to complete it yourself. It's just so unfinished.

And it's such a mess. So unfair. And dare I say it, so selfish. But maybe it's just as selfish to think I could have made any real difference. I don't know.

All our talking didn't seem to change the outcome for my friend. She kept losing the light. Why couldn't her psychologist do more? Why couldn't we have perceived just how serious it was?

After talking with my teens about this today, I realized something after nearly 25 years: a stranger possesses just as much power, and quite probably more power and influence to save the life of someone contemplating suicide. When friends fail, or when friends are not enough, or perhaps when friends are too familiar to be truly heard, then maybe it's the stranger who can change everything. If only someone had asked her to dance. If only someone had noticed the girl sitting on the bench and sat down beside her and said, "Hey." If only someone on YouTube had said "it gets better."

Maybe this is our true power. Maybe each of us, in a moment of pure random compassion for a lost someone, is the antidote to the giant loneliness of life. And we would say the right thing. Or enough of the right thing to be the tipping point to prevent an unfinished life. (Maybe it's happening right now.) And we would never even know.

Sometimes I'd like to believe we all have that power. I'd like to think so.


The Defiant Marshmallow said...

Thank you. Amidst all of the unknowns, uncertainty, and sense of hopelessness this says that there is hope. I'd like to think so too.
There are now enough people who think so for it to mean something and matter.

dbs said...

That comment just might be the perfect comment.

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

Deep and thoughtful post, thanks dbs...

As for suicides, a lot of people do it because they feel stuck. I like to remind them that things will always change, and that the way they're feeling won't last forever. It usually helps.

I was reading about George R Price earlier, a brilliant scientist who committed suicide because he felt like altruism didn't truly exist or was entirely possible. Whatever the reason, it hurts on both ends, stranger or not. Thanks for this post.

Pickleope said...

Sometimes, after a life seemingly built out of a constant state of torment, the easy way, the simple solution out it seems, is suicide. But all it takes is for one person to show kindness, compassion, and thus, hope, to show there's some other path.
This was hard to read first thing in the morning, but it reminds me to be one of the good guys and smile at people.

dbs said...

@Sub-Radar-Mike Made me think. Thanks.
@Pickleope You are indeed one of the good guys.

Paul McCormick said...

Such a true post. It's funny, back when I was depressed, and thinking of suicide, it made so much sense. People wouldn't have to deal with me anymore, and I wouldn't have to do deal with them.

Now that I'm passed that, it really does seem confusing. Life goes on, things get better, even the bleakest of situations have an ending, but in that tunnel, it's hard to believe.

So, and this is where you might be the most right, it seems that a stranger can show you that light so much better than other people. You feel like those you know are obligated to try and save you, but a stranger is not, and so their kindness can make the difference.

Thanks for posting.

PokerLawyer said...

Thanks for sharing this, dbs. I lost a friend to suicide 26 years ago. I often wonder how his life would have turned, and what he would have added to the world, if he hadn't committed suicide. Still think of him...Joe was his name.

We are hope for each other, whether strangers or friends. A sweet heart, a genuine smile, a kind gesture - they can really mean a lot and sometimes we don't even know it.

It's too bad these things are often mistaken for weakness and/or seen as the epitome of "uncool."

I like how you put things here. Thanks again.

wendy said...

a Tragic, and Empty subject for sure.
Sometimes...I think Suicide, or what drives someone to it, it not even "understood" by them
Like a train on a collision course, they can see the crash coming, but seem helpless to STOP it.
They want to
They can't
They don't know how
soomething going on in their minds we can't even begin to comprehend
For some....I don't know if it's like that for everyone.
That's the Point
so....hopefully each of us can somehow reach out, to someone, in someway
Try to tap in to what we don't SEE, but we feel it somehow...and that is when we need to ACT on those feelings.
Gosh......I am rambling here
but, it IS such a saddness and loss and Mystery

dbs said...

@Paul I'm glad you made it through that.
@PL It is too bad. And it's not right.
@wendy I just do not know either. I like what you say about tapping into what you feel. Trusting instincts is important. You never ramble. You speak from the heart. It's one of my favourite things about you.

Mrs. Tuna said...

Excellent insight......

A Lady Reveals Nothing said...


Some fantastic poetry written on the subject by an old friend of mine...

Michael said...

Every kindness we share saves (a) life.

Mrs4444 said...

I like to think so, too. In a tiny way, I try to make a difference every day, smiling genuinely at every single kid I pass in the hallway. I know that for some kids, it might be an important signal; you are worth it.

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