Flippant Comments About Suicide Are Like 'Word Darts' to My Heart
When you cannot have something, it’s the only thing you’ll see. The five years I desperately wanted to get pregnant and couldn’t, I vividly remember seeing before my eyes a swarm of pregnant women. Everywhere I went, everywhere I looked, there was another mum-to-be, waddling around, supporting her gorgeous belly in her palm. Where had they all been when I was happily infertile? Why had everyone in the world suddenly decided to get pregnant, right now?
Of course, when I finally did get pregnant (about a month after falling apart, feeling in my soul it would never happen for me) the swarm of preggo bellies suddenly subsided and only “normal-bellied” women wandered around in my periphery.
I know the swarm was all in my mind. That tweak of perspective and utter longing that made me suddenly see the pregnant women who had always been there, because of the utter desperation I was feeling in my own barren self.
Like wanting to buy a new car and deciding on yellow and suddenly only seeing yellow cars on the road.
Like losing my son to death by suicide and suddenly becoming aware of all the incredibly crass and insensitive things people can say about suicide and mental illness.
I understand I’m a sensitive wee flower: I get that. Yes, I do cry a lot and I go a bit quiet when people make crass jokes and inappropriate remarks. Yes, I sometimes look like a panda, as most nights I’m lucky to just score a few hours sleep. I am a sensitive wee thing. So sensitive I really don’t want anyone to have to live through the pain of the aftermath of suicide. The sense of loss, disbelief, guilt, fear, depression, anxiety. I don’t want you to learn the hard way what those words you toss around like popcorn really feel like. I don’t want that for you.
Maybe try to engage your mind a little before you joke about suicide. Try shutting your eyes for a minute and just contemplate the shape of your life if you did lose a child, a parent, a sibling or a friend to suicide. Can you see the shape of the hole they would leave in your heart? Can imagine the way the silence they left behind could become deafening, when you sit in your bed at night, waiting for sleep to finally overcome you?
Think about the time they promised something: a phone call, a movie, a dinner out. Now imagine you made those plans and they’ll never be realized and you’ll never finish the conversation you started last week. And the thing you remember that you had to tell them. Remember?
Imagine what life might feel like, if you were a sensitive wee flower, trying to adjust to an incredibly bizarre new “normal” where word darts can actually piece your heart. Just imagine for one moment and then get back to your life, where pregnant women and yellow cars and phone calls are happily coexisting.
I cannot step back into that reality. My perspective has been truly changed. The things I can now see, now my eyes have been opened, really make me wish you wouldn’t let those words slither out of your mouth. Word darts hurt the most unlikely of people, especially those amongst us who are doing our very best to walk forward, into this strange new world.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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