I don’t have children but I cannot fathom the pain of losing a child so young to suicide. It’s a very scary commentary on where we are as a culture, where kids would rather take their own lives than try to struggle through ridicule and bullying. I think most adults don’t realize that now the torment doesn’t stop when you hop onto the bus and get home.
When adults mock everyone and use stupid reasons to prejudice it trickles down to their children. I’ve always wondered just what aspects of the power dynamic of bullying have lead us to where we are today. I dealt with my share of bullying, after all I was a typical geek in school. My biggest fear even when my ex-wife and I were trying for kids was that I was ill prepared to deal with teaching right and wrong in a way that stuck. Don’t know that I’ll have that chance, but I do hope that parents out there are imparting a sense of responsibility for actions and that teaching that trying to bully someone is not a sign of strength, it’s weakness.
(For US Residents) If you know someone who is at risk for suicide please consider sharing the National Suicide Hotline information to them.
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The recent news of Chester Bennington’s suicide hit me pretty hard. I enjoyed his work with Linkin Park and even his turn as the lead vocal for Stone Temple Pilots.
Like many in the music industry he had his share of demons. Abuse in his youth, substance issues later in life. He hanged himself on the birthday of his friend Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave) who also committed suicide in May. Their music spoke to me; even if only peripherally; when I felt down I could listen to their lyrics and feel like I wasn’t isolated. Pain comes in many forms and often it seems those who touch so many with their expressions of pain, challenges and sometimes redemption are the ones suffering the most inside.
The timing of it all is particularly painful for me. Today is my own birthday and I am reminded of two greats who share the same day as myself, Robin Williams and Ernest Hemingway. Giants in their fields, remember even today, but also struggling for much of their lives.
In my own life, I’ve often used humor as a defense mechanism. Preferring to see others laugh and be amused even when inside I felt isolated and empty. Slowly I’ve taken off my clown make up as it were and I try to present just the me that’s there. Sour attitude, sardonic to a fault and bare. Probably lost a few friends along the way but I feel like at least now I’m being more honest with myself and those around me.
A friend commented that I should reach out if I feel the pull of suicide ever creep back. I somewhat deflected, saying that I have a contingency plan in place for my firearms when that happens. I am far more mindful of my mental and emotional state when things like this happen though. I shift my diet to brace, I try to get a bit more exercise and movement into my daily routine. I avoid negative news where I can. It probably seems weird to someone who’s never dealt with a clinical diagnosis to see the myriad of small things needed to help cope. I often think that in itself is half the reason depressive disorders are so stigmatized. Do what you have to do however and do not let yourself sink. For me, it’s far easier to maintain a flat emotional state than to try to recover once I’ve sunken. If you’re going through a difficult time, or on the cusp of an episode, start the prepping now. Try to give your mind and body as much ammo as needed to deal with the downturn and the stressor responses you’re going through. It isn’t easy, depression never is, but we all have small things we can do to make it through.
I came across the following article and it really struck a nerve with me. I was certainly an awkward kid, didn’t find my way until well into college. Todays figures though with suicides outpacing vehicular deaths is truly disheartening.
I would never contend that there is a singular cause to this painful upward trend in middle schooler deaths, but I often wonder if the pressures of a connected society and bullying have created a more hostile environment for children today than decades past. I can’t imagine how my life would have been if the attention of bullies didn’t end when I got back home. People having save-havens somewhere they feel they can be themselves is becoming more and more a rarity and it’s something that I think parents, teachers and other students need to start paying more attention to.
Depression strikes anyone at any age. Keeping an eye on various depression support groups I’ve seen the gradual increase. It used to be mostly college students, people in their 20’s and 30’s. These days we see reports of kids as young as 12 who have been diagnosed and are on medication. When i was 12 I was worried about the school lunch, not what anti-depressants I was going to be on.