September 10 was World Suicide Awareness Day. People in great numbers posted and shared the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800.273.8255 on their social media platforms. The Internet was flooded with pictures of Robin Williams, Kurt Cobain, Chris Cornell, Junior Seau, and a handful of celebrities who ended their lives too soon. Very often these deaths were the result of depression. They are the popular faces of suicide.
On one hand, I get it. Relating suicide to famous people who struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and idiopathic sadness is a good reminder to all non-celebrities that those ailments don’t discriminate. A person can be worth millions of dollars, have fame and freedom, and still not want to finish the lives they are so fortunate to have. Also, the value of celebrity recognition helps spread the idea of World Suicide Awareness Day further and faster.
On the flip-side though, many people who will read this have friends, associates, and family members who have taken their own lives. That in itself is a heavy thought. What’s a heavier thought though, is that other people reading this will have friends, associates, and family members who will someday take their own lives, but who haven’t yet — and who may be internalizing their reasons for doing so.
With that in mind, it’s my opinion that the face of suicide awareness shouldn’t be celebrities so much, as they should be everyone that we make eye contact with in a day’s time. Again, that’s just my opinion.
Many people live with suicidal thoughts — probably many more than someone reading this might realize. Again, some people experience suicidal thoughts on rare occasions, while others may experience them occasionally, and with others still, they might be frequent. Some, like me, live with them daily.
Those who do experience these feelings, too often hold them in. We hold them in for fear of being judged, cast out, or worse. Some, myself included, fear that being too vocal about such feelings might influence our ability to earn a living. I accept that some people who read this and also do business with me, may choose not to going forward. As I write this, I feel it’s more important to speak what’s on my mind tonight, regardless of how people might judge me or whether they choose to do business with me tomorrow.
I have battled suicidal thoughts for most of my life. They have been completely intertwined with the depression, anxiety, and sadness that I have also battled. This surfaced with me first when I was in the 3rd grade. Think about that — I began entertaining and subsequently working through the symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts as a 9-year old.
To see me on the surface, most people who know me socially or professionally, have no idea this takes place within my daily thoughts.
I know I’m not alone.
I am now in my late 50s. I can look back at my life, in part, as a series of successful and ongoing negotiations with myself on the importance and of staying put — if not for myself, then for anyone who finds value in my life, especially on the days when I can’t. I’m proud of that — proud of my success in 50 years of self-negotiations, and I’m still going strong.
Although I’ve written about this some in the past, I’ve done so apprehensively and have been guarded about it. I’m sharing these feelings today though, for two reasons:
1) So that anyone reading this who might experience similar feelings, will know they’re not alone — that roughly 4% of the adult population in this country has experienced suicidal thoughts in the past year. That’s 12-million people.
2) That those who don’t or haven’t experienced such feelings, might be more aware of the 12-million or so people who do. And to keep in mind we often look like anyone else on the surface.
As for World Suicide Awareness Day, perhaps in the future we might rebrand it, making it less about celebrities and more about the people next-door or the people down the hall. We could call it…
The World Day Of Staying Put
The World Day Of Staying Put seems at least a little bit more casual, if not optimistic.
In addition to being about spreading suicide awareness, it could also be observed as a day of worldwide confession — a day to share one’s feelings without fear of judgment or any kind of reciprocity. It could be a day to celebrate those, like myself, who have successfully self-negotiated, time and time again, on behalf of staying put.
As any of us look around today in a room full of people, whether it’s a restaurant, an ice rink, or our living rooms, let the faces of suicide awareness not be those of celebrities. Let the faces of suicide awareness be everyone we make eye contact with.
Let’s each remember today as we move about our circles, that behind every pair of eyes is a heart, a soul, and a life’s worth of experiences we know little about, and often those experiences include turmoil, depression, sadness, and anxiety — even if the face and the demeanor are perky.
When we discuss and promote suicide awareness, let’s also strive to take into consideration those right beside us, and let’s make sure they feel they can discuss their feelings without fear of judgment or reciprocity — that may be just what they need in order to stay put.
If you experience suicidal thoughts and don’t have anyone to speak with, please contact 800.273.8255. There are people there willing to listen, and without judgment.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
15.5 mph avg
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there is this from Big Country — Stuart Adamson was beautiful. Enjoy…