From Inside the Head of Alisa McLaughlin, as part of her blog The Write Life:
The Rave: Letting Go
Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, Kurt Cobain- how could someone famous do that? The compulsion to suicide comes from within, and the death of the famous increases the compulsion. It bares the lie sold to us: material wealth does not equal happiness.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough,” and promoted the “strenuous life” as an antidote while his brother drank himself to death.
The four horsemen of suicide are: depression, vulnerability, isolation, and despair. Vulnerability in the face of failure at work, relationships, and money. Isolation from others fuels the urge–”no one will miss me”. Despair at the unfairness of life chases the rider. Ultimately, the impulsive act boils down to one thing: they let go. The will to hold on is gone. The effort and strain becomes too much so they just let go.
Suicide is an epidemic in America. According to the CDC suicide increased by 54% in the last decade, 50% die using a gun.
Helping those who suffer is hard because you don’t know how to ease their pain and the victim feels the same way. Silence is deadly as each side struggles to deal with the demon in their midst. People are afraid to that ask someone about suicidal thoughts fearing it will drive them to the edge when in fact it will pull them back in relief.
Drugs, therapy and physical activity can keep the black care at bay for only so long, but depression is a liar and drains it’s victim of the strength, clarity, and desire to escape its grasp. Seeking help is impossible when you feel nothing but desperation. Many have tried and tried and failed.
Happiness is hard to maintain when it is fleeting and rare. When I do feel joy it’s often accompanied by unease or I feel overwhelmed because I’m not used to it. The reverse is true for those who are generally happy and experience a blue funk. It feels unnatural. Depression is a palatable emotional pain, and as debilitating as physical pain. Even with painkillers, it’s still there and there are side effects.
Humans have a great capacity to endure enormous stress and trauma and come out the other side more or less intact- how I envy them. Ask a survivor of the holocaust, torture or prison. Then there are some who fold under a seemingly minor ailment or stress. Despite his luck and prosperity George Eastman, who started the Kodak Film Co. killed himself. Ernest Hemingway raced with death all his life and finally gave up. Survival is for the fittest regardless of their circumstances and everyone has a limit to their endurance.
Adding to the horsemen is the current fashion of prejudice and intolerance feeding the isolation and despair. Messages of comfort and empathy are sadly missing.
How can you help a loved one who suffers from depression? Be there when they are down and the weight of existence feels too heavy. Talk to them about the things they enjoy or interest them as a distraction from the howl of despair. Listen when they express their pain- it is a balm to their souls.
Life can be hard, it’s harder when one feels deserted, unloved, weak. You can help another to outrun black care.