Rest in Peace

I can’t say that I’ve ever attempted suicide, or that I’ve ever even come close. The abstract idea of it has briefly flitted through my mind during a few especially low points in my life, but it has never legitimately been a consideration for me.

However, I have thought about suicide on a more frequent basis than seems normal, especially for someone who has never come remotely close to choosing that path. I feel as though I’ve been trying to understand suicide for nearly my whole life, and I haven’t really gotten any closer to figuring it out.

When I was in the sixth grade, I had to create a brochure for a class assignment. I can’t remember what the instructions of the project were, but I’m thinking that it was mostly about teaching us how to use templates in Microsoft Word, and not so much about creating a well-written and informative piece of literature. I’m guessing that most of the other kids in my class turned in lighthearted brochures about camping or gymnastics or how to ride a bicycle. I, on the other hand, made a brochure about suicide.

And really, looking back, that should have raised some eyebrows.

Sixth grade is the first time I vividly remember being unhappy with my life. It didn’t have anything to do with the fact that I was in sixth grade, but more so that my older sister was a freshman in high school and was starting to get noticed for the first time. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I spent a lot of my childhood trying to outshine my older sister. Well, most of that came to a head when she entered high school and people outside our family began to realize how talented she was.

The moment my sister entered high school, I felt taken down a notch. While she played varsity in three sports, I struggled to get a hit on the softball diamond. While she became interesting to boys, I was on numerous occasions told by my peers that I “looked a lot like my sister, except not as pretty.” (Yes, boys actually said that to me.) I was awkward and dealing with puberty and middle school and new classmates, and she was killing it at high school.

So when I began creating my brochure, I guess I had a lot of pent up frustration about my situation in life. I remember writing about the reasons people commit suicide (or the reasons that I believed they did) and I talked about how hard life can be for some people. And then I put a picture of a pill bottle open on the ground (with pills spilling out) as the cover of my brochure.

Again, I feel like that should have raised some eyebrows. Maybe the teacher should have called my parents about that. If I came across that brochure today, I would at least be mildly concerned that the author might have some deeper things going on there.

I think that I’ve been dwelling on death/suicide recently because of what happened with Robin Williams. And I realize I’m kind of late here, but I didn’t feel up to talking about his tragic death before now. I’ve been subconsciously reflecting on it for the last month or so, trying again to make sense of something that I’m finding impossible to comprehend.

After learning of Williams’ suicide, my brother posted that it was the first time he had cried about a celebrity death since Chris Farley. Later that day, I came across this fantastic Cracked article about why funny people kill themselves (whether through suicide or overdoses), and after that I read this inspiring post by The Bloggess (one of my writing heroes). And they made me realize that I’ve only scratched the surface in my understanding of suicide, and that from my tiny little bubble of world experiences, I cannot even begin to fathom the complexities of making the decision to take one’s life.

I usually try to have some semblance of a purpose with my writing and I’m not sure I’ve accomplished that with this post. I think I’m emotionally raw today because I’ve spent the last week packing up the apartment for our big move out west. And because a good friend of mine from college lost his brother this morning. And because another friend from college lost his brother a few weeks ago. And because I still might not have fully processed my grandmother’s passing back in March. And because it’s after 3am and I’m still here writing.

I’ve never really been afraid of dying. I’ve always felt that being dead was the easy part; you die and it’s over and that’s the end of your time on this earth. It’s the living that are affected the most by death, because they are the ones left to deal with all the sorrow and grieving that follows. And I think that’s why suicide has always captivated me, because it is so incredibly tragic and exponentially more difficult for the living to deal with.

The Bloggess has done such an amazing job covering the complexities of depression/suicide in her writings that I think I will end this post with a message from her. She has already said it so much better than I ever could:

“You aren’t alone.  You are wanted.  You are good.  And you will get through this.  I promise.  And when you doubt your worth, imagine your younger sister or your best friend or your child having these same doubts and realize that that same sense of angry disbelief that the world would ever be better without them is the exact same disbelief that your friends and family would feel if they lost you.  You are as special and irreplaceable as the people you love most.  Your differentness makes you unique.  It makes you who you are.” – The Bloggess, “Strange and beautiful