Calling Out for Change

TW: this post discusses suicide and suicidal ideation.

Before I write about a post that discusses suicide, I breathe a big sigh. I try to hold back my own personal emotions because I need to focus, but the shadow of depression hangs its head over me. Because this thing is so hard. It’s so hard to sift through all the feelings and emotions that come with learning the news that someone has died by suicide. There are a million different directions that news can take your brain and what you start thinking about. But after ten years of living with depression and having experienced suicidal thoughts and suicidal ideation before, I get sad. Sad and frustrated.

The reason I’m writing this post right now is because I’ve been trying to work through the news about Stephen “tWitch” Boss. Last week, ‘DJ tWitch’ as he was known by his millions of fans, died by suicide. I wasn’t too familiar with his work but from a quick Internet search, it was clear he was someone who lived an absolutely incredible life in the 40 years he was here. He was someone who was a beacon of light to many, who was an inspiration and brought joy to many.

But depression doesn’t care about that. Suicidal thoughts don’t care about what you’ve done, what you’ve brought to the world. And when someone dies by suicide and the world didn’t know their struggle, there is so much speculation. Speculation about what they must have gone through, and how much pain they must have been in. But because so many men struggle in silence, the world never knows. And every time I learn that someone’s died by suicide, I think about why that is.

So yes, I’m sad. But I’m also frustrated. Frustrated that a person might not have felt comfortable sharing their feelings. Frustrated that someone could be going through one of the worst pains imaginable and they feel that they have to put on a ‘brave face’ for the world. Frustrated that the way we talk about suicide and mental illness contributes to all of this.

I don’t know what to do next. Oftentimes this type of news brings about a depressing cycle of shock, concern, the ‘check in on your friends’ posting, and then…nothing changes. And at some point in the future, the shock will come again. And I will be sad and frustrated again. And I will feel helpless and hopeless that there isn’t anything we can do to change things. There is so much to unpack and talk about when it comes to men and mental health, or men and suicide prevention. But something needs to happen.

I wish I had a better takeaway for you today, but I don’t. Because unfortunately, as long as we treat suicide as a tragedy, as long as we continue to think we can solve this public health issue with one conversation or one moment of speaking up, nothing is going to change. And so much – SO much – needs to change.

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