The following article talks about depression, suicide and other potentially triggering topics. If you or someone you know needs help, please know that it is available. Help, and hope, are always available.
I’ve been meaning to write this for a while now, trying to figure out the right words to say and how to say them. And then this morning before the sun even rose, news broke that chef, writer, and decent human being Anthony Bourdain had died. More to the point, he had taken his own life. This comes hardly days after the suicide of renowned designer Kate Spade. I won’t get too deep into the details and the statistics, there are already tons of pages offering them out there, but these things seem to happen in waves. And in recent years it seems the waves are coming with a greater and more dreadful frequency. It’s worth noting, because it must be noted, that for every celebrity who takes their life and whose sudden and abrupt passing is mourned by thousands–or millions–there are countless others who slip away in utter silence. Too often they are grieved by a scant handful, if anyone at all.
Every life is precious. Every life is precious because every life, every person, is a unique and beautiful thing that will never again be seen in the world once they’re gone. A solitary light burning among countless others, and once it goes out a light like it will never again shine in the darkness.
I experienced my first brush with suicide when I was a teen. I didn’t know them very well, and I didn’t know what had happened until whispers had swept over and consumed the school. Suddenly it felt like it was all anyone could talk about. This person that, days before, hardly anyone knew was all of the sudden all anyone else could talk about for all that they had been a nobody. A harsh, ugly truth. Until their name was in the obituaries, until the news was passed down by grieving parents, no one but their friends knew their name and their friends were sparse enough. The one thing everyone kept asking during it all, though, was “why?” And no one knew. No one had an answer. Not a good one. Not one that would quell the rising horror in so many young minds, and certainly not one that would ease the pain that had entrenched itself in the hearts of the parents. We got to ask it again, a few months later, when another kid took their life.
The individual reasons, the real reasons, why a person ultimately decides to take their own life are rarely if ever known. Maybe because I’ve always been a social misfit and gravitated towards others, other artists and weirdos and outcasts, but my life has been touched on more than one occasion by suicide. It is never not crushing, it is always harrowing, to discover someone you know has made such a truly final decision. I’ve struggled with depression my whole life, and while I can thankfully say up to this point I’ve never once considered ending it all, I have spent a lot of time thinking about why a person would. What would drive them to it, how they could think it is their only viable option–usually because it’s the only one they have left. Last year I lost an old, dear friend because she decided it would be better to never wake up at all, than to wake up to another day of pain. It still haunts me, and I’m sure it always will. I can only think that there must come a moment of terrible stillness, and silence, maybe even of peace when a person at last comes to that dreadful, fateful conclusion.
That there’s only one thing left to be done.
I have to believe there is hope. I have to believe that there is something, there are things, that can be done. I have to believe that someone can be pulled back from the edge, pulled away from the void, before it’s too late. That singular silence, that monstrous stillness, goes on forever and ever. But something can be done. Something must be done. If you are hurting, if you are alone, if you feel broken and like the whole world is falling apart I promise you, you are not alone. I implore you, please, reach out. The world is beautiful. There is light, and there is love, and there are people who care and who want you to be here. I want you to be here.
If you or someone you know is hurting and hopeless and in need of help, you can find it. Please do not be afraid to find it.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255