“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide.” – Albert Camus
Why Do People Commit Suicide?
Yesterday I found out that one of my friends shot himself in the head. We hadn’t spoken in a few years except the occasional Facebook prompt, yet I feel like I’ve lost a brother and a family member.
I was sixteen when I moved out of my house and moved to Orange County, California from the Bay Area. My Senior year of high school I was sixteen. I met my best friend Trina and we started going to Knotts Berry Farm to dance our asses off every Saturday.
Those Saturdays of dancing turned into weekends of craziness. We went from casual acquaintances to lifelong besties, whether we saw each other or not. There is something about the bond that forms when you’re a teenager.
Trina said it best when she told me a few years ago, ‘You are woven into the fabric of my life.”. Our friendships were the foundation for everything to come.
We became a little group of friends tied together by a love of dancing, youth and freedom. Aside from dancing, we had many a drunken house party, random hotel parties and spent days basking in the sun at 43rd Street in Newport Beach. We were a band of misfits in our own right. We didn’t care.
We never fought or had or animosity towards who was a better dancer or who was prettier or skinnier or dressed better. We turned to each other for support and kindness and love.
Those people turned into my friends and then my family.
No one knew it at the time, but I had left my family of origin. My parents didn’t know what to do with me and sent me to Orange County to live with my Aunt and Uncle who also didn’t know what to do with me. I was pretty much on my own.
Imagine being sixteen or seventeen and having no family. Nowhere to turn and nowhere to go.
The only place I could go where I felt loved and accepted was with my friends at Studio K. To this day we have an unshakable bond that keeps us together and to lose one of our own feels like a death to us all.
Why did he do it? Why does anyone do it?
I’m going to try and help you understand.
There are those who don’t understand suicide. There are those who can’t wrap their heads around why people would do it.
In my opinion there is really only one reason people kill themselves (and I’m not referring to those with a terminal illness who aren’t really committing suicide so much as they are facing death on their terms).
People commit suicide because they feel alone. Period. End of Conversation.
If only it were so simple to cure.
People commit suicide because they feel like no one cares. Intellectually they “know” people must care about them, but they don’t actually feel like anyone cares. Words are meaningless. Telling someone you care or that you love them doesn’t actually register in their brain.
People commit suicide because they believe they are alone and no one truly knows or understands them. They feel they have nowhere to go. They feel not existing would be better than the continual pain or emptiness that follows them around every day.
What you don’t know is that many people who seem okay to you are suicidal. What you don’t know is that those who come across as the strongest can be struggling the most.
Many of us become adept at hiding our pain and making everything think everything is fine when really we are crumbling from the inside out.
People commit suicide because the voice inside their head tells them that they are alone and that nothing will get better. That voice becomes the daily road on which they travel. It begins to speak to them as an enticing lover drawing them closer and closer to their end.
Can You Help?
You can post your suicide prevention phone numbers or your “my door is always open” memes on Facebook all day long, but it won’t stop someone who is contemplating suicide.
Although I know such posts are meant to show that you care and you have good intentions, someone who is suicidal doesn’t believe you. They don’t believe your door is always open and they don’t think, “gee I can call that number instead of blowing my head off”.
But, there is something you can do. You can call. You can check in. You can invite them places and make them feel wanted. If you know they are in a dark place don’t leave them alone.
Someone who is suicidal will not reach out to you for the most part. You can’t save everyone. If someone is committed to dying they will find a way, but there are some clues to look out for.
As someone who has struggled with depression and suicidal ideation I am wracked with a certain amount of guilt knowing that I can’t really save others. I couldn’t save my friend.
People write to me all of the time asking for help and I feel so inadequate to assuage them. Who am I to help you when sometimes I can barely help myself?
I have felt the chasm of loneliness. I have stared at a loaded gun sitting on my table and smirked. I have dreamt about taking so many pills that I would drift off into nothingness only to have my boyfriend find me cold and dead.
These thoughts still leave me feeling that no one would care. Even then I felt that everyone would say, “Oh, how sad” and go on with their lives.
It isn’t your job to fill someone up or make them okay or give them their sense of self.
We are all accountable for our choices and actions. But, maybe some of us feel more than others and maybe some of us despair more. I don’t know what prompted my friend to finally end his life but I would give anything to have the chance to try and take his pain away.
Maybe no one can help. Maybe you can’t help someone who is suicidal.
But, I believe that you should do everything you can to help a friend in need whether you know they need you or not.
I also believe that maybe those of us that suffer need to reach out just a little bit more no matter how hard it is or how lonely we feel or how much it goes against our beliefs.
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary situation. Life changes. It always does.
Rest In Peace My Dear Friend.