This post is about suicide
I just woke up and checked facebook to find the news that a friend of mine had committed suicide overnight. At this time yesterday, she was alive and now she is not.
My friend was trans and queer and mentally ill and isolated. We never actually met in person, we met through a facebook group and I had every intention of visiting her on my next big cross country road trip. She took beautiful nature pictures. She was outspoken on facebook, boosting the voices of Native American water protectors and anti fascist activists everywhere.
A couple of weeks ago, I sent her a pizza through the magic of online pizza ordering. A few buttons pressed, and it didn’t matter that I was 1000 miles away from her. She was hungry and I had some extra cash and pizza happened.
But likes on facebook and delivery pizzas are not enough to stave off suicide.
I’m trying not to make the death of my friend about me, but this is about me. And this is about all of us, from multiple marginalized identities with broken brains that keep luring us to the edge and telling us “jump.” And how, time after time, I see the broken holding up the broken.
It’s always people with the least to give who give the most. It’s my friends with active suicidal urges I always see cheering others on, spilling their hearts and exposing their wounds, to tell others, “It’s OK if you’re broken like this, or broken in a different way, and please don’t go.” We’ve developed, through necessity, a micro culture where we can say “Hey I can’t get out of bed but you’re welcome to come over and lay on the floor and be broken next to me.”
And it’s better than nothing but it’s not nearly enough. And with the death of my friend, I’m sad for her and I’m angry at the world for being so hostile to her that death was the preferable option.
A few years ago, when I was getting divorced from my first husband, the one who isolated me, abused me, and eventually tried to murder me, I spent several frantic weeks looking for counseling. I went to one “audition” after another with different counselors only to be told “Sorry, I don’t think you’re right for our services” before I lucked into a therapist who was willing to take me on. At the same time, I was curious about gun ownership, specifically a small rifle for target practice. I never bought a gun, but I called the local police department and the sporting goods store to check the rules. Just show up, and buy it. Like a pair of shoes, or a pack of gum.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I have friends around me. One of them just made me a sandwich because if I’m going to be ranting on the internet about suicide and mental health care access, I need to have something in my belly besides a granola bar and half a bottle of red wine. When my brain starts getting hostile with me, I can poke my head out of my room and say “Who wants to walk down to 7-11 with me? I need company.” Someone will hold my hand or hug me when I ask.
My isolated, nature photographing friend didn’t have that.
There’s no good conclusion here. I’m not going to exhort you to call your senators or smile at a stranger or call a friend you haven’t spoken to lately. Because I know, if you’re one of the broken, you’re already doing all you can to keep yourself alive and try to drag one or two friends back from the edge while you’re at it.
And if you’re not broken? If you’re healthy, normal, sane, if you can’t imagine depression as anything more than “so you’re just *really* sad?” This post isn’t really for you anyway.
RIP Plant Girl