Can we talk openly and honestly about suicide now? Please?
The recent suicide deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade caused a further tearing in the fabric of silence and stigma, following as they did the suicides of such notable creatives as Avicii, Robin Williams and Chris Cornell.
Suicide, sadly, has created its own Who’s Who list, including such diverse and beloved artists as Ernest Hemingway and Kurt Cobain.
We are, of course, baffled when when stars of literature, stage or screen die by suicide. We want to know why. We want the mystery solved. How can someone with everything give it all up?
Suicide is complicated and it is mysterious. People’s inner lives are not always on display, or often on display, in their outer lives. So someone with seemingly everything can feel barren, empty or dead on the inside.
I’ve wondered what it would be like to reach the top of your field … only to discover the pain inside is still there. Does that make it worse? Does it signal a futility to the life you’ve led?
Will nothing make this pain go away?
I’ve had my own experience with deep depression, but never came close to even planning an attempt. But I got help and I got better and better over the years. I don’t know how I’d feel if the pain had never lifted.
But we do know that people with mental illness can get relief, with counselling and treatment. We know that grief eventually lifts, especially when it is shared openly and with professional help.
We see examples of people who go through the most difficult of times and eventually come to a place of contentment.
But to create a world where people with excruciating inner lives can talk about it. So we need to talk about it. Our collective silence in regards to suicide suffused it with shame.
Further shame was created by old-timey religion’s attitude towards someone taking their own life. Suffering in silence is never good for the soul.
Talk about it, please, to a parent, spouse, best friend, teacher, school counselor, doctor, psychologist.
- If suicide is a possibility, call 911
- Alberta Mental Health Help Line: 1 (877) 303-2642
- Alberta Addictions Helpline 1 (866) 332-2322
- Distress Line (Edmonton and area): (780) 482-4357
By Scott McKeen, City Councillor Ward 6