Monday, March 13, 2017

How to Save a Life, Friendships Misguided by Numbers, and Vera

Trigger/Content Warning (TW/CW): the following blog post contains mentions of suicide. Reader discretion is advised.

I'm about to rant off on this blog.

If you are on Facebook (and I'm sure about 93% of you are), you may have seen posts and shares (reposts) from your friendly followers about helping someone save a life.  It was pretty popular during the time period of November 1 and January 15, which a majority of the major holidays, both religious and national, take place.  These posts would have a cliché line of: "please copy and paste! You can save a life. Call [this number]. Don't suffer alone," and other diatribe.

Granted, there are great intentions about these posts. It's to show that people care and that we, as a human collective, are not all assholes.

The problem is this: sharing a phone number to someone who is in legit suicidal and/or homicidal crisis is, in fact, telling them that people don't care and that we, as a human collective, are all assholes.

When was the last time you told someone, "Hey, if you need me, I'm here for you," only to be followed up with "Well, if you're feeling like this is the end, give [this number] a call. I don't know what else to do for you?" Yeah, me neither.

Suicide, for all intents and purposes, is the damage done to the body from some external force entering the body.  The forces that cause suicide in humans include, but not limited to:
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • addiction
  • dementia
  • trauma (perpetrated by external infliction)
  • psychosis
  • chronic pain due to an injury or another illness
I mean, that's like giving someone who just got diagnosed with, let's say, cystic fibrosis, a pat on the back and saying: "Hey, if you're feeling really sick, call these guys at [this number]."

What you're really saying, whether you realize it or not, is probably the most ableist thing you can possibly imagine.  You're telling folks who are suicidal: don't bother me, I am healthy and have no time for your disabled bullshit.

Now, that's not nice, is it?

When I was suicidal (back in the day, not now, fuckers), I was lucky enough to have people come to my aid and get me the help I desperately needed.  Not everyone who has felt the need to end their lives were as fortunate as I was.

Think of the contemplation of suicide as a disease that has spread over your entire body. You lose your appetite. Your circadian rhythm is completely destroyed. You fret over upcoming appointments. Hell, you even feel like death because taking a shower is the equivalent of breaking rocks out in the prison yard. Your clothes feel extraordinarily heavy on you. And while you're suffering, the people around you are just living life, carefree and joyous to their heart's content. You are so desperate for someone to notice you, in your suffering, to reach out a hand, or open arms. But oh noes, that means you have to communicate that in terms people around you can understand. Who in the hell feels like saying anything when the disease is actively trying to shut down your organs in preparation for you to take your own life?

I mean, all you really want is the pain to go away. You don't want to have to resort to drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, binging and purging food, abusing loved ones, starvation, or slicing (cutting), but you do because people around you are not that empathetic or loving enough to tell you that you deserve better than what you are going through right now.

By no means am I actively trying to discourage organizations who volunteer their time and efforts to assist these suicide crisis hotlines. In fact, their services are greatly needed, especially in this day and age when there is so much uncertainty in social and economic politics.  But seriously, some of the folks who do volunteer with these organizations (and I appreciate their time in doing this work) need to step up their empathy game for folks who are at their breaking point.  When someone calls a hotline, the last thing they need to hear is the dialect and vernacular of someone that instantly sounds like a loved one who became fed up over "their nonsense."

So if you see someone, whether on Facebook or in person, that is even hinting at attempting suicide (and/or homicide), don't just sit there and copy and paste a got damn phone number and call it a mitzvot. It is your duty as a got damn human being to reach out to that person and see what you can do to help alleviate their pain, all the while making sure you are not in danger and the help you offer is, first and foremost, legal in all 50 States.

If we are all in this together, then we need to act like we are all in this together.

End of rant.

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