Statistically speaking at least 80% of people surveyed have thought about suicide in any way, shape or form. It doesn’t mean they wanted to kill themselves and had the resolve to try, it just implies that during the most desperate times of our lives many of us have thought of how it would feel like to end the pain once and for all. Twice in my life, to get rid of the anxiety and depression, I welcomed the thought of dying, not by my own hand, but accidentally. Kind of a “if God wills it I won’t resist the urge to unplug” moment. Once when I was a senior in high school and many times during the Layoff countdown period. No one is immune to these thoughts and there is no logic to minimizing them when a person opens up and asks for help. Life is not meant to be fair or easy but we can try to make it bearable for each other.
This last thought is the reason the book 13 Reasons Why resonated so vibrantly with me and my experiences. Being a teenager, feeling lonely, unloved, unworthy and unlucky took a toll on my self esteem and world view that gave me a cynical and obscure way to see and deal with life. It was the best I could do to put some distance behind me and the cruel words and actions of my unsuspecting peers. My close friends realized that I wasn’t acting like my normal self. They offered books, hugs, support, constructive criticism, and patience to get me to see how awesome, beautiful and exciting I was as a human being. How much the world needed me. The thought that I was suicidal didn’t cross their minds and I made the same mistakes as Hannah Baker and Clay Jensen. Between not risking enough or risking too much, 😥 keeping quiet when I should have spoken, and destroying my self esteem to please others, I had dug a huge hole that was filling with water ever day. They made me realize the water was elevating me to the surface, in an attempt to get me out of that mess rather than trying to drown me in my own sorrow.
Being bullied is not necessary an overt attack. Many people use passive aggressive remarks, back handed compliments, exploit microinequities and differences to shrink others to size and put them in their place. Jealousy, feelings of betrayal, insecurities, inefficiencies and lack of confidence drive many to retaliate against the successes of their peers. They take losing to you seriously, as a reflection of their worth and define themselves in comparison to others. This is dangerous especially when your teenage frontal love isn’t fully developed. Your emotions take over and block rational approaches. That is why it is so hard at this stage of your life to talk through problems and reach win-wins. The odds are literally not in your favor.
During the layoff the suicidal thoughts were brought about because of the idea that my potential will never be fulfilled. Straight A, two degrees student and professional engineer get you nowhere without an influential network and a Plan B (aka savings and motivation to pursue something outside of engineering). Being a great employee and excellent wife were not getting me where I wanted to be, and hadn’t been the goals I had traced for myself in my 30s. I didn’t have kids to spend the time off with nor the desire to use my break to get pregnant or be a proper stay at home wife. What got me through it were a couple of new friends, Pinterest, power tools and a few trips to see and talk to the same people that helped me the first time around. Many of them never knew they were renewing my spirits, passion and will to live. They were my angels and hopefully I positively changed their mindset by sharing the experiences of my darkest hours.
I’m not ashamed of having felt I had more than 13 reasons to end it, and feel proud I found more than 13 reasons to rage against the dying of the light. Truth be told I never attempted suicide but boy did I plan how to make it look like an accident. Death defines us and there are even some that punched out on a high because they feared the end of the good times. We all matter, we all link the system. Hug someone today, give them a compliment, mean it when you tell them that you care or love them. No one knows what the other person is truly thinking: a kind act brought on by compassion and empathy can save a life. Become the hero they deserve and need. The world will be a better place because of it.