I love the title. I want it to be a campaign, 'fuck suicide, I'm staying'.
But then at CALM we've had real problems getting our 'feeling shit' postcards out, so using the word 'fuck' is probably a non-starter.
So, what to make of Mr Rollins article? I get that he thinks it's selfish - lots of people do. A suicide can destroy a family, a community. But he says 'When someone negates their existence, they cancel themselves out in my mind', does he mean he no longer has any time/respect for Robin Williams? I'm sure Robin is stung to his core by such a response. Or is Rollins saying that emotionally that's how he feels about anyone taking their lives; that they've lost his respect and they should just 'man up' and take the pain?
The article keeps the conversation going, which is good; depression and suicide don't get much of a hearing, and many people don't get why someone 'who has it all', should kill themselves.
Are you physically comfortable, fed, and warm and have friends and family? Does that equate with happiness? That the gap between what we have and what we want is huge, what we want is always something further away - a better job, better security, more money, more respect, a better relationship, more children. Happiness has nothing to do with money or success. How we are emotionally and mentally has everything to do with how we are doing on our own internal scale of achievement; there's nothing rational there.
Internally - mentally - our landscapes have no bearing on who we or what we mean to others. Someone's success as an indication of inner happiness is a non-starter. We all have internal lives which get dragged alongside our external lives, but they're invisible and come laden with all the baggage of childhood and growing up; with rejection and failure and loss, hopes and dreams. And we look out at life with through these eyes and not the eyes of our public face.
We all cover up to some extent - and if we're honest, we'll admit that we monitor what we say and how we behave so it conforms to what is acceptable. The playground taught us that any deviancy is rewarded with bullying, isolation and violence. We want acceptance from those we deal with. So when internally our brains start frying and running riot, when our emotions suddenly kick in with extreme fear or anger, we'll try and mask it so as not to worry people. And if there's a voice shouting nonsense in your head, again the natural response is to hide it in case people start avoiding you/think you're mad. And if such thoughts are let out, they'll be let outon a lead.
I don't believe that deep depression always or inevitably leads to suicide. And I don't believe suicide is always about depression. At CALM we've heard from plenty of people that suicidal thoughts can also be the result of someone's life being extraordinarily awful, a car crash taking out your entire family. Would Mr Rollins erase such individuals from his mind on the grounds they should simply buck up?
So what does suicide look and feel like? Here's a bit of a round-up...
It's a time when everything is black, everything is wrong. And most of all, YOU are wrong, everything you've done is wrong, rubbish, bad, pointless, wasted. It matters not what others think of you. From your perspective, nothing has ever worked out, and there's no hope ahead. You've let down everyone, you can be of no further use. You hate yourself. You hate yourself so much that the only thought you can hold in your head is that you want to get away from you. Right now. Frankly, if there was a cliff in front of you, you'd jump. Now now now now now now NOW.
The urgent physical urge to stop everything now is as primal as sex. At that point, ripping off the civilised veneer that the world sees and coming out, is as contrary an idea as putting a hand deeper into a fire. Bad enough you looking at you, which you can't bear to do. To have others see you as you are, right then, is unconscionable.
You plan your way out of this, quietly, so no-one can interfere with your route to freedom. And hold the plan there, in your heart, with a promise that the door is there should you need it. It's a thought which conversely keeps you going. Laughing at jokes, getting on with the routine. Until, like a meet with a lover, conditions come together and you set the date.
At that point you have no perspective, and whilst parts of your brain may be functioning fine - you chat, get on with things - inside it is all scrambled. Inside you're trying to keep up some kind of front whilst you find a way out. Inside you've already said goodbye to the world. Inside the only ballast you're holding onto, is the thought of suicide because that's the only way you know out of the pain, because that's what you want - no longer to feel this way. And inside, this all feels entirely rational. You push aside all other thoughts in your rush to find deliverance and get away from you.
I read a letter recently from a health professional to a suicidal man. The letter stated "If you were to have thoughts, urges or plans to harm yourself or end your life then thinking about your son would stop you from going ahead with harming yourself or ending your life". This, from someone trained in mental health. It would be funny if it weren't so tragic and obtuse. The man in question was 'out of his mind'. It seems insane that someone with any mental health training should expect someone seriously considering suicide to be open to reason or have a sensible perspective.
Mr Rollins, it is bizarre to rail at those who are ill for lacking judgement and behaving badly. It's like shouting at the lame for limping. When you hit your funny-bone, and pain resonates throughout your body, its ok as you know it will stop, you wait for it to do so. Telling the suicidal that they've been erased from your social list is pissing in the wind. They need a different message.
The person feeling suicidal needs to know that this terrible period, will and can pass. Physically they need to sit tight and get through it, call a friend. That feeling suicidal is something we estimate that one in four of us will feel at some point in our lives. It's human, and it's a nightmare on acid. They need to know that the view they have of themselves at that point, is in every way, wrong and corrupted. They should call a friend, interrupt a colleague, phone a doctor. And Fuck Suicide. Stay.
This article was writing in response to Henry Rollins widely publicised LA Weekly article, 'Fuck Suicide', and was written prior to his apology.