Keep Talking About It

TW: Suicide, self-harm, eating disorders, drugs

With the news this week about Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain dying by suicide back to back, there has been new discussion about suicide contagions and whether discussions of suicide contribute to other suicides, or whether discussions of suicide help prevent further suicides.

Honestly, it’s both.

There are people for whom hearing about another’s suicide is like permission or a boost of courage to go ahead with their own. There are people for whom it’s a wake up call that reminds them they don’t really want to die, and that’s when they reach out for help. It really depends on the person and what psychological state they’re in. But truthfully, I’ll always vote for talking about it over staying silent, even with the risk for triggering some. Because not talking about it just fosters a culture of stigma and shame, and denies opportunities to provide resources where people can access help.

Sometimes people trigger each other at the same time they’re helping each other stay alive. This happened a lot in certain groups I was in, especially as a teenager. I had a group of friends with whom I discussed suicide and self-harm methods, drugs, and eating disorders tips and tricks. Essentially, ways to destroy ourselves. At the same time, we shared ways to stay alive: “don’t cut here, you’ll bleed out,” “if you overdose, drink ipecac,” “after you purge, drink pedialyte so your heart won’t stop.” We’d tell each other to stay safe as we played with life and death, not sure if we cared about the outcome, but positive we cared about each other.

These friendships were eventually what helped save us. As destructive as they were, they gave us a reason to live. And as long as we were talking about suicide, we didnt follow through on our plans to complete it.

No matter how bad things get, keep talking. Keep reaching out. Never believe the lies that you’re all alone, that no one understands, that there’s no way out. As long as you’re breathing, you have options. Change is possible- inescapable, really. Just wait. Things get better, even when they look the most hopeless. And there is always, always someone out there who cares.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11