Please don’t mistake the title for a response to the BLM. It has nothing to do with that.
All life matters. Period. As a society we seem to forget that. We minimize others in order to make ourselves feel superior. We judge people without knowing who they are. We judge them based on our refusal to seek the truth, to open our hearts and minds to the fact that events in people’s lives create the person they become. We negate those events and refuse to acknowledge there are problems we fail to address.
Mental health is one of those. Suicide is one of those. Each year our government, state or federal, continues to cut funding to mental health facilities, to offering assistance to those struggling with a mental health disorder. That continues to breed more people with mental health disorders that are unable to receive treatment. It removes the ability for them to ask for help…to seek help. Why ask for help from a system that is broken? Why ask for help from those that will deem you “crazy”?! We fail to acknowledge that it is an issue. We fail to educate our children, our youth, our young people, our veterans, our society that having a mental illness is not a death sentence. It does not make them less of a person. That they are not freaks. They are suffering from a disorder no different than cancer, diabetes, etc. We find a way to treat many diseases in the world, but we continue to fail to treat those with mental health disorders successfully. That failure comes from our refusal to acknowledge it is an issue in this country and every other country in existence.
I myself have struggled with depression on and off for many years. It took me a long time to acknowledge it. It took me a long time to seek help for it. I was ashamed. I had the world at my fingertips. Great parents, an education, athleticism, etc. Who was I to struggle with depression?! But mental health disorders know no race, religion, creed, socioeconomic status, age, sexual orientation. It is NOT shameful. It is despair, darkness, pain. It is the “silent” killer. And as long as we as a society continue to fail to recognize it is becoming an epidemic we are allowing those that struggle with a mental health disorder to die…suffer…alone.
I have no doubt that my kid brother was struggling immensely. That he was in pain. That there was despair and darkness. I have no doubt that he was ashamed of this. That he didn’t feel he could reach out to anyone – not even me. Not me as his sister; his protector. He was alone in his battle. No one knew. And for that I am greatly saddened. Maybe had I reached out. Maybe had he known I too spent most of my life struggling he would have reached out to me. Allowed me to help him save himself. I don’t believe that we can save people. They have to save themselves, but we can throw them a life vest. We can reach out to them – offer them that hand. Unfortunately, I will never have the opportunity to do that for my brother.
People of all ages, races, religions, etc. take their lives – daily. On average there are 117 deaths by suicide each day. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.; 42,773 people die by suicide each year; for every suicide there are 25 attempts; suicide costs the U.S. $44B a year. White males account for approximately 7 out of 10 suicides. Those are just some of the statistics. You can see more at www.afsp.org
My brother has now become one of these statistics. Not just one of them, but many of them. He was a white male and used a firearm to complete suicide. Even with the staggering statistics still we fail to recognize the severity of the situation. We push it under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist. “It won’t happen to us.” My family and I used to think the same thing. Nothing like that will ever touch us so closely. Our failure to recognize the signs, to acknowledge that it can happen to anyone, blinded us from seeing what was right in front of us. This CAN touch us. This DID touch us. Perhaps I am more emotionally open to acknlowedging that I failed my brother; that I failed to remember what it felt like and what it looked like to suffer so immensely. How easy it is to hide from those you love. I don’t believe my family is there yet. Why would they be?!
Friday marks 2 months since he took his own life. It feels like it’s been so much longer than that, yet just like yesterday. It’s still unfathomable. How could this beautiful soul, who had so much to offer this world, take his own life?! How could one of the few people in this world who I can absolutely relate to leave ME here to deal with the fallout of his death?! I know he did not do this TO me. He did this to be free of the pain. I get it. I’ve been there. The difference between he and I? I had an amazing soul, Diane, help me through it. I sought her out with the encouragement of a friend – and she never gave up on me. I remember finally thinking that maybe I was not crazy. Maybe my life was worth it. Matty never got that. But he also never reached out. Maybe he didn’t know how. I sure the hell didn’t. Maybe had there been more dialogue and the negative stigma, set forth by society, removed he would have.
The fact is, all LIFE matters. However, as a society, we fail to acknowledge this. Obviously all life doesn’t matter – to some. Obviously we don’t put enough importance that life matters. That every individual’s life matters – regardless of their indescretions. Life matters. Life is beautiful. Life is chaotic. Life is unkind. Life is worth it. If only my kid brother would have been able to see how much his life mattered. If only every person understood that their life matters. Maybe, just maybe, fewer people would take their own lives.
There is a song by Andra Day, “Rise Up”, that has quickly become one of my go to’s when I just don’t want to face the world. When my introverted self wants to completely retreat from life as a whole. “And I’ll rise up, I’ll rise like the day, I’ll rise up, I’ll rise unafraid, I’ll rise up, and I’ll do it a thousand times again.” We have to keep rising. We have to keep fighting. We have to help those who need the help. We have to offer a safe place to fall. We have offer them kindness. If we can’t do that…if we can’t help others…then what is the point? If we refuse to create a better world then what is the fucking point?!
All life matters…period. Remember to be kind for we do not know the battles one is fighting.