I’ve been living in pretty much total isolation for more than a year. It’s amazing what a broken mind and broken spirit can do to your body too. I’m unrecognizable. This isn’t about why, its about what I can do about it.
We live in a society where people are allowed to go broke and homeless, where human beings are put in cages and, worse, given criminal records for minor and often victimless crimes, where it’s okay to allow someone to suffer severe mental anguish and heartache, simply because it is within your right to stay silent. Nobody cares.
I wish we lived in a world where this kind of stuff wasn’t true. I really do. I’ve done all I could in my personal life fighting for others and for a more caring society. I’m no politician, but wherever anyone would listen, I spoke. I don’t really have much power. I can barely take care of myself anymore, I don’t think I’d be capable of truly doing anything for others.
I think about suicide on a regular basis. I have a helium exit bag set up and ready to go, and because I’m terrified of the police, I often carry enough Clonazepam to kill myself as well (a less secure option, but I can’t carry an exit bag with me). My point is, I’m not fucking around. I’m seriously thinking of ending it.
When I talk about suicide, I often get in trouble. Police will come to my house and embarrass me and half the time they have me go to the hospital. Then I have to wait to see a psychiatrist who then always lets me go (because I’m not in imminent danger). Why they have to bother to make my life worse by coming here, I have no idea. Also, this stays on your police record which is often shared with foreign states when you cross a border. It’s not very helpful.
We’ve forgotten our responsibility to others. And maybe I’m wrong, maybe nobody owes me a god damn thing. That’s fine. I’m willing to accept that. Most people who think about me, hate me, these days. That’s fine. But why don’t I have the right to express my suicidality and why don’t I have the right to end my life? It’s a more important question than you might think, because its not just about ending it, its not because we don’t want a flood of suicide; no, it’s because the powers that be don’t want us to be reminded of the suffering that occurs in the kind of society we live in. Most of us are hidden, to afraid to come out, we barely exist. Nobody sees us and nobody knows, its easy to ignore those who suffer when we are invisible.
I think part of the issue is that suicide is truly an affront to our society. When healthy people chose death rather that to continue to live in torment, its an indictment on our society and maybe even our political system. I’ve always said that every suicide is a revolutionary act. I would even go so far as to say that suicide, counter-intuitively, is life affirming; in a world where nothing seems to have any essential importance, suicide reminds us of the things that truly do mater, like dignity, love, and community. That which is worth living for is surely worth dying for as well. Remember that when they say that suicide is never the answer, the implication is that what you care about does not matter.
Today I read a story about a man who attempted suicide by setting himself on fire in front of an immigration office. It puts in to light what immigrants suffer at the hands of the little Eichmann that rule over us. A failed immigration system, a failed justice system. They get back on planes and we forget all about them, well this man conveyed to all Canadians what it actually means to be in this situation. I don’t know the story, and I doubt anyone will cover it much further but it isn’t hard to imagine what this man might have been going through given his choice to do this in front of an immigration office.
I am almost certain there is video of this incident but we won’t ever see it. They will tell you that it could cause copycat suicides and the media often follows strict guidelines on how to report suicides. It breaks my heart that a man’s last act could be buried this way. His last words, muted, by a bureaucracy that doesn’t want us to know.
You might say, “well we know it happens, why ‘sensationalize it?” I’ll tell you why, because when you know that there is a war in Syria and that people are suffering, it’s not the same as seeing this:
It’s not the same thing is it. Statistics and passionless stories about the world are easy to ignore. And yet when a human being decides that the world has forgotten them, or that the world did not leave a place for them, or that the world has needlessly hurt them, we only get passionless reminder. Most suicides aren’t even reported, they usually just say so and so died and when their isn’t a cause of death, you can assume that most of the time it was a suicide. For someone to give up their lives and still be silenced really show how truly cruel out world is.
And what if I told you that there was a refugee crisis at the US southern border, which is considered a safe third party state by Canada, would it effect you in the same way as seeing this and knowing their stories?
I don’t think its the same. Sure we need statistics and facts but unless we see the people that social issues truly effect, I don’t think people care as much. These two are a victim of historical American imperialism, and died hoping for a better life, fleeing the country American foreign policy and its history of colonialism in our hemisphere, has ruined.
When I think about suicide, you want to call it a mental illness, but there is no thought to the sexual harassment I faced, the culture of misandry that allowed it to be dismissed, the unequal access to the justice system which otherwise could have helped me, or the harsh judicial system which decided I deserved a criminal record for sending emails. Those are the real reasons I want to die.
I’m not going to die until I’m ready. I continue to cling on to hope. I tell my story and it helps me even if very few people read about it. I’m not going to die just for media attention, but the idea that even if I set myself on fire, that no one would care to listen, only makes me feel worse about my chances.
I was here. The people have died by their own hand were all here. They deserve to have their stories told not by chalking it up to mental illness but by recognizing the failures of our communities. Or we can just keep doing what we’re doing. It might not be my problem much longer. But your friends and family members won’t die of mental health issues, they’ll die of a failed recognition of real problems.