I've been thinking a lot about suicide lately. Ever since I heard that Spalding Gray was missing, as a matter of fact. It seems that at least twice a week since then, I'm hearing about someone who has been touched by self-harming behaviors to either themselves or someone they love.
On Livejournal, there are several friends or friends of friends who've cut themselves just to feel something, even if it's pain, because they can't feel anything at all.
From a really great LJ post on Self Injury Awareness Day
, which was Mar 1.
What is self injury? Self-injury is the active choice to physically harm oneself, without intent of suicide. Self-injury is the act of cutting, hitting, punching, stabbing, biting, poking. It's the act of pulling out hair or nails, of sometimes even removing a limb.
Self-injury is a coping mechanism. The short answer is that it's a way to make the internal pain into external pain. The short answer doesn't even begin to cover it. But it's not a cry for help, and it's not a sign that the person is crazy. It's just a coping mechanism.
Of course, the final response to extreme pain is suicide. I almost lost my father to suicide. I've never actively planned it myself, but I did sometimes feel so hollow inside that I thought the world really would be better off if I weren't taking up space in it. It's a dark, dark place to be and it seems like the darkness will never be relieved.
But it can be. Here's a resource page if you (or someone you care about) feel suicidally depressed.
From the first site listed on the resource page
“Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain.”
That’s all it’s about. You are not a bad person, or crazy, or weak, or flawed, because you feel suicidal. It doesn’t even mean that you really want to die - it only means that you have more pain than you can cope with right now. If I start piling weights on your shoulders, you will eventually collapse if I add enough weights... no matter how much you want to remain standing. Willpower has nothing to do with it. Of course you would cheer yourself up, if you could.
If you think I'm posting this to you, you're right. But it's not just to you.
It's to Spalding Gray's 3 children, who now have a grandmother and a father who've died at their own hands. Making the likelihood that they too will struggle with the noonday demon statistically higher.
It's to my father, who faced down the demon and came back to us when I was sure he never would.
It's to my friend who recently had an anniversary of a horrific incident leading to flashbacks and a new onset of melancholy, but who somehow manages to be encouraging and creative and lively-refusing to be a victim forever.
And it's to myself. To remind me that no matter how alone I feel, I am not. No matter how useless I feel, I still have more to do. No matter how unworthy I feel, worth is not something I have to earn except by continuing. That joy will follow despair as day follows night, if I can just keep going.
Then, if you've ever felt that dark smothering pain, it is also to you. If you share this susceptibility, please do not suffer it alone. Call someone. Email someone. Be willing to ask for the help you would be willing to give if it were needed.