With the death of Kate Spade, a highly recognized fashion designer, the topics of suicide and mental illness come to the forefront of media yet again. For those that do not suffer from mental illness, committing suicide seems like an extreme act. But, for some people who have considered taking their own life it’s not extreme at all, it’s just an option.
In honest conversations with people who struggle with severe depression I have learned that suicide can be considered a relief – a way out of their discomfort. They see themselves as sparing self, family and friends from all the problems that exist with their condition. Others say, they are trying desperately to suppress such thoughts and urges but find it difficult at times to control the voices in their head. Embarrassed by it all, they try to keep the talking about it to a minimum.
It’s tough to know what will act as the catalyst for ending life, the one thing or day that will make such a thought become an executed decision. Outside of those that make their suicide a public spectacle, it is quite likely a very lonely way to go. Somewhere – while drowning in the torture of one’ s mind – comes the drive to go through with it. It is so very sad.
I may be taking some liberty in assigning the word lonely to such an experience as we never will know what each person feels in the moments before death. If notes were left, like allegedly in Ms. Spade’s case, there is some answered questions and feelings described to others but ultimately the last seconds are personal.
We have multiple therapies, medications and groups that endeavour to help sufferers of mental illness. Through such support they are heard, validated and given reasons to continue life. However, all our knowledge and compassion unfortunately can’t save everyone.
There is no face of suicide. It is found in the stories of all people, all ethnicities and age groups, regardless of economic status or gender.
I have witnessed people recover from suicide attempts who go on to lead their best life. I think it’s important not to judge what “a best or normal life” is but to support whatever that looks like for them. We should continue to try to offer support, call suicide prevention hotlines for guidance, or contact professionals on behalf of someone in distress.
All is not lost, hope can rise again and what seems insurmountable can be challenged. One more day might make a big difference.