Over the past few months we’ve seen the news report on celebrity suicides. Last year we lost some cool people and this year we’ve already lost more than a few and while everyone likes a good joke every now and again – even the dark ones – there is a time and place for everything. It seems the advent of Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other social media sites have played a large part in expediting the loss of some exceptionally important things.
Among these things are tact, empathy, and compassion.
Today, everyone seems to know everything or if they don’t, Google is a click away. Yet, we still seem to have too many with access to an abundance of information who don’t know jack shit. Some of my FB contacts have, over the last several months dropped memes, articles, and posts about these same celebrity suicides which are calloused and without any semblance of compassion or empathy. Now, I understand you may think I’m being a bit dramatic, or a sensitive little snowflake, but a quick search of the hashtag #toosoon will show you exactly what I am talking about.
Like I said, everyone likes a good joke and dark humor is like food – not everyone gets it. I’m not talking specifically about that, because let’s face it; we like to laugh when someone smacks their elbow on the counter. I get it and I am not trying to shout from my hypocritical soap box that you’re all evil and going to burn simply because you posted a fucked-up meme. I’m guilty of it too.
However, when I said we have lost somethings along the way and that social media platforms have expedited the process, I meant, “We have lost some extremely important things.” Important things that are an integral part of our humanity, which allow us to cohabitate and have enjoyable and meaningful interactions with each other. Things that allow us to remain objective while at the same time empathize with either side.
Tact is synonymous with both class and manners, because if you were taught manners – and you use them – you have class. And if you have class, then you know what to say or do, and when you should or should not in a given situation. #toosoon is the antithesis of tact.
Empathy is the acute ability to relate to an individual person’s experience whether it be strife or joy. To empathize is to understand their situation in a meaningful and sincere way.
Compassion is the ability to show mercy to an individual in an unmerciful situation. To feel sorrow for them whether they deserve sorrow or not. It can be erroneously equated to pity, but it is not.
If you look deeply and answer honestly, you will see and be able to admit that we have, in large part, lost or discarded these things. Maybe it’s the #YOLO generation rubbing off on us or maybe it’s the quasi-anonymity and false safety that social media provides, or maybe, we are all just really fucked in the head and are too afraid to admit it, but we’ve lost them, and we should probably start trying to get them back.
Though, I do understand there are and always will be certain elements of society, the small portion of individuals who, as a rule, lack most basic emotional traits of humanity and don’t care one way or the other. This is the #cakeandeatittoo crowd, the semi and full-blown sociopaths, the puppy killers, the users and abusers, the takers, the gold diggers, the liars, the cheaters, the thieves, and those selfish, self-centered narcissistic assholes of society.
I’m not talking about them. I could, but it would mostly be a waste of time because they will never understand anything other than what they want to understand. They will never care about anything outside of what they want. Their emotional arsenal is so limited it is quite possible they will never be able to understand any of it, no matter how hard they try.
That’s all the mention they get. Fuck em.
Instead, I am talking to everyone else. Everyone who is a bit jaded, cynical, tired, and all those people who feel like a horse that life rode hard and put away wet. Everyone who tried and gave up or are about to.
Reading and hearing about suicides always bothers me, but this latest one hit me a bit harder for some reason. I didn’t know him, and I only watched a handful of his shows, so it’s not like I had a connection to him personally or to his TV persona. I don’t know what it is, I can’t point to one single thing and say, “Ah-Ha!” Got it. Maybe it’s the direction my life is heading right now, maybe it’s the lack of sleep, maybe it’s the sun or the position of the moon – I don’t know.
I can’t put my finger on it, but all I can say is,
“It feels like a suicide day. It’s felt like a suicide week and the last year has felt like a suicide year.”
It just feels - heavy.
I can’t be the only one. I hope I’m not the only one.
But, it doesn’t matter what the reason is, and it doesn’t matter if I knew them or not, part of me feels the lack of their passing. The sadness which accompanies all death except those most deserving. I want to know why they finally stopped fighting. What was it that became so overwhelming? Why did they decide to say, “Fuck it. I’m through with money.”
I’d like to know. Because…
Some would not, and some don’t care, and that’s fine because even if they were told they would never understand.
They lack empathy and compassion.
They would never understand what it’s like to think about eating a bullet. They would never understand where the sudden desire to wander off into nowhere comes from. They’d never understand how hard you have to fight to push the image of your car going off a bridge out of your head. Or of your body swinging from the rafters. Or worrying about who will find you and how you can avoid traumatizing them as much as possible. They’d never understand what it’s like to feel so completely alone in a room full of people. They’d never understand how much you dwell on things that may not even be real. Because everything is as real as everything is in every single moment. They’d never understand how easy it is to be so far from the people you love when they are so close. They’d never understand what it is to feel like your life has gone to shit, even when it hasn’t. Like you have no control, even though everything is fine. Like you fail at everything, even when you really don’t. Like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, even though it isn’t. Like you are the biggest piece of shit, but your kids think you are a god. When everyday you are at your worst, but your husband or wife loves you anyway. Like you don’t deserve them. Like you don’t deserve any of it at all.
Or how easy it would be to just. Stop. Just stop fighting. Stop trying. Stop suffering. No more worry, no more sleepless nights, headaches, stress, doubt, tears, anger, insecurities, failures, fear. No more fights. No more pain. It could be so easy…
But then…then you start thinking about those you will leave behind. What will happen to them? What will your friends think and say? What will the funeral be like? Will there even be a funeral? What will happen to your husband or wife, to your kids? And that. That right there is how you are able to find the strength to pick it up one more time. It’s heavy, but you can do it because you have every single day before this day.
Like I said, they’ll never understand the difference between saying,
“I will be strong today.” when you wake up in the morning.
And having the last thing you say before you finally drift off to sleep be, “I was strong today.”
Compassion is what drives us to empathize with the plights of another person. It allows us the opportunity, no, the desire, to insert ourselves into their situation and their emotions to try and truly understand what they are going through in the hope that we can help. Even if we only help for one minute or one day. That minute or that day may be the most important of all.
I think we, as a collective, need to pick those things back up. And we need to do it sooner rather than later.
Because the other part of me, that part, is terrified.
If these guys, who had all manner of convenience and vice to distract them, if these guys finally stopped fighting…
Then, what chance do you and I have?
· 45,000 suicides per year in America
· On average, there are 123 suicides per day.
· Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America
· Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34,
o The fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.
· Men die by suicide 3.53x more often than women.
o The suicide rate among males remained nearly four times higher (21.3 per 100,000 in 2016) than among females (6.0 per 100,000 in 2016).
· The rate of suicide is highest in middle age — white men in particular
o White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016.
· There were more than twice as many suicides (44,965) in the United States as there were homicides (19,362).
If you are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org