traceylukkarila.com

mindfulness, depression, yoga, mental health, finding a way

Chris Cornell, Born 1964, Died 2017

This past Wednesday, May 17, 2017, Chris Cornell hung himself. These deaths rip me to the bone. The first suicide that touched me was Kurt Cobain. I was 27 and he was 27. I couldn’t believe someone like me could be driven to that final desperation. I didn’t realize at the time just how lucky I was that no one close to me had committed suicide, and even luckier that I’d not struggled with suicide thoughts myself. But unfortunately, they would come.

In this age of Facebook, opinions about suicide run amok. I mostly encounter expressions of sadness and shock, but unfortunately there are also expressions of anger and hate. It’s understandable to feel hopelessness when someone leaves this world — they’re leaving a lot of loved ones behind. But allowing hopelessness to morph into anger and hate is an unloving choice. It hardly honors the person we’ve lost, and it fails to honor ourselves as the ones left behind.

So hear me…

PEOPLE WHO COMMIT SUICIDE ARE NOT SELFISH. THEY WERE IN UNBELIEVABLE PAIN.

PEOPLE WHO HAVE DEPRESSION ARE NOT WEAK.
THEY ARE INCREDIBLY STRONG FOR HANGING IN THERE ANOTHER DAY.

AND IF THEY GIVE UP AND CHECK OUT OF THIS WORLD, IT’S NOT ABOUT THE SURVIVORS. IT WAS ABOUT A PAIN WE CAN’T IMAGINE.

BEFORE YOU SAY SOMETHING INSENSITIVE ABOUT SUICIDE, CONSIDER THAT 50% OF ALL AMERICANS HAVE STRUGGLED WITH SERIOUS SUICIDE THOUGHTS AT LEAST ONCE IN THEIR LIFE. SO IT’S VERY POSSIBLE SOMEONE IN THE ROOM WITH YOU IS STRUGGLING AND YOU DON’T KNOW IT.

YOUR INSENSITIVE WORDS MAKE IT LIKELY YOUR LOVED ONES WILL NEVER TELL YOU WHEN THEY’RE STRUGGLING. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?

The pain of depression is so horrible, it’s incredibly difficult to describe to someone who’s not been there. But let me try. When I’m not on my meds, my suicide thoughts attack me in two ways:

  1. Thoughts that I should kill myself. It almost sounds like a voice, but it’s my voice and my words. I see a knife laying on the table and the thought “Do it! Stab yourself!” pops into my head. “Jump!” “Swallow the pills!” – whatever is in my environment that could do harm becomes a suicide thought. And these are not the occasional thoughts. I’m talking about a suicide thought every 10-15 minutes for the entire time I’m awake. I can’t shut it off. It makes me fearful and anxious, which only feeds the thoughts more. It becomes a vicious cycle of depression, anxiety, and paranoia. IT GOES ON ALL DAY, EVERY DAY, DAY IN AND DAY OUT. There’s no escape.
  2. Visions accompany the thoughts. When the thought “stab yourself” appears, it’s not just words. It’s a full color visual of me plunging the knife into my gut and blood everywhere. I also have such visions of other people, so just going to the grocery store is a mental bloodbath. These visuals are not as frequent as the thoughts, but enough that I start to fear leaving the house.

What you may not know about depression is it takes a long time to recover, sometimes years. It took a lot of trial and error with medications before we found that Lithium reduced the frequency of my suicide thoughts. But it took a year of taking Lithium for my thoughts to go away. They now make their appearance every few months and only last for a 3-5 days, which is manageable.

IMAGINE DEALING WITH SUCH A DAILY HELL FOR MONTHS OR YEARS ON END. That is the reality for many depression sufferers. Can you understand how some people get to the end of their rope and let go?

So what should you say when someone has committed suicide? It’s very simple. Just say “that makes me so sad” and leave it at that. If it’s someone you know, ask what you can do to support the family.

But really, don’t judge. Have compassion. Show empathy. Be nice.

6 thoughts on “Another Celebrity Suicide Unleashes the “Selfish” Comments on Facebook

  1. 22 Veterans a day commit suicide.
    800-273-8255
    Veterans Crisis Line

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  2. I have changed the title of this post — when I wrote it I was mad and tired. I realize that not everyone who thinks suicide is a selfish act is a hater. I do question though the motives of the numerous people I’ve seen post that sentiment in the wake of Chris’s suicide. What exactly are they trying to communicate? That the next person who thinks about suicide should ponder how selfish they are? I wonder how successful that tact would be in preventing suicide.

    So here’s a real doozy I saw on Facebook:

    “I don’t even give it a second thought… selfishness and lack of concern for those left behind to deal with the aftermath gets zero empathy from this mother f*cker. Life’s hard… deal with it. Everyone has their own trials and tribulations. Hastening then end doesn’t overcome them. You’re correct, I have no compassion for people that wreck the lives of those that love them. The poor me’s” get nothing from me. I don’t cope with the loss, I disregard it. Much the same way the perp disregarded those that care. Congratulations, you chose the higher path. If you ever get to that place again…just keep in mind that you don’t live in a mud hut, use rocks to start a fire or wipe your ass with moss, so it can’t be that fucking difficult. And before you come back with “you’ve never been through” bullshit… you have no idea what I’ve been through. Good luck.”

    Later, this guy also called suicide “taking the bitch way out.”

    What I intended with my post is to get people to consider their “selfish” stance on suicide. Even if a person will always think it’s selfish, is it really helpful to say it out loud? Does anyone really think telling a depressed person they’re selfish is going to get them off the ledge? Or telling Chris Cornell’s family members that he was a selfish turd will make their pain less? I just think it’s more helpful to be loving and supportive, and not judgey.

    I’m glad that the majority of people who’ve responded to my blog have been loving and kind. I have amazing friends. Peace out!

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  3. tsk says:

    I think about killing my self everyday, when people who are in a better position than me to deal with it and kill themselves it makes me feel more hopeless, is that not selfish of them ? It’s basically saying things are not going to get better no matter what position you are in wether you’re a millionaire celebrity with hundreds of thousands of fans or wether you’re jobless and on your own you’ll still be depressed.

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    1. I fight the hopelessness of it all sometimes too. But never assume that a millionaire celebrity is more or less capable than anyone else of dealing with suicide thoughts — there’s no way to know if they are in a better position than you when it comes to mental health. Sure, they have money and can pay for more treatment than the rest of us, but it still comes down to biology and mental habits, and we are each unique in our capacities. My personal path has been finding the right medicines and practicing mindfulness, and it’s taken me 3 years to get here. Finding medicines that work has been trial and error – Seroquel and Lexapro sucked for me, Lithium is great, Paxil works but the side effects, ugh! My doctor ordered a DNA test and found out that I don’t metabolize Paxil that well and I’m in the process of switching to Zoloft, so I’m on that, Lithium and low-dose Remeron to sleep. It’s such a terrible trial and error process that it gets discouraging, but getting to a place where the meds help has been worth the struggle. But meds only get us about 50% relief, and then it’s up to us. Mindfulness, yoga, meditation – these have helped me accept the suicide thoughts as part of my life, so that I’m able to let them come and go without getting caught up in them. I see them as random neurons firing off in my brain that don’t mean anything. I don’t have to buy into them, I don’t have to act on them, I don’t have to do anything with them. Just let them come and go. My yoga community is so supportive, and I’ve found people there who cheer me on rather than tear me down. Another group I know I can always count on is my DBSA chapter. You can find meetings in your area at DBSAlliance.org. I hope my story has helped you see a path forward. Any questions and comments are welcome – I am here to help.

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      1. tsk says:

        I know, I understand completely and agree with everything you said just a bit disheartening is all. I was on Sertraline (Zoloft) for years but it made me worse messing with my serotonin. I stay away from anything made in a lab.these days.

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      2. My philosophy is that when depression grows into suicidal thoughts there’s nothing worse than that. It signals that things have gotten serious and it’s time to get help, and that I need to fight and fight and fight. When suicide starts to sound like a good idea to me, I feel as if the only next stop if I do nothing is death. If the doctor who put you on zoloft made things worse, get another doctor. To me, fighting is demanding good treatment from doctors, therapists, whoever and not accepting failure as the answer. There are a lot of ways to tackle this illness, and no one doctor has all the answers. I have to do a lot of work myself to stay alive, but it’s not 100% on me. I insist on having the right medical professionals and support network around me. What helps me not give up the fight is I remember that the hopelessness makes me think about ending it, but it isn’t death I really want. What I really want is for things to change, and that change can only happen if I fight. Please keep fighting for yourself and your right to have things been better.

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