A young friend took his life this week. He had just turned 31. He was handsome, funny, energetic, and so bright. And he was so desperate and discouraged that he could not see a future for himself in this world. He suffered from bipolar disorder and social anxiety, yet excelled in building online communities, seeing other’s needs, and identifying creative solutions to address them. Still he could not do this for himself.
Depression is insidious. It distorts memory and perception, so that one cannot recall nor foresee a time when feelings other than hopelessness and despair exist.
He had a support community: friends and family who loved him and wanted more than anything to keep him in a world of hope and acceptance. Depression refused to let them in and blocked his path out.
Suicide is not a selfish act, purposefully inflicting pain on surviving family and friends. It is not a cowardly act, demonstrating some inability to confront the future. It is not an angry act, designed to show others that they should have acted differently. It is an act of hopelessness, an act of acceptance, an act of assuming control over what feels inevitable, an act seeking relief, and often an act of removing the burden of oneself from the care of others – so the others may move on unimpeded. The emotional and thought distortion of depression creates its own world. He believed there was no other way.
There are many people today thinking they could have done something differently that would have saved him from this fate. Humans, at least in Western culture, tend to believe they can control outcomes if they just work hard enough to find the “right” answer to a problem. I know in this case, his friends and family did all they could to keep him safe.
I hope he has found peace. I hope he is in touch with his joy of riding.
Happy Trails, Drew.
When comedian/actor Robin Williams took his life last year, the nation’s attendance focused briefly on the dangers of depression and the woeful lack of appropriate response and available assistance, even to those with the means to access it. Perhaps the large response happened because so many people felt they knew this person. That has faded now. Now the pain and loss is felt one family at a time again. Nothing has changed to improve the understanding or treatment of the disease. We need to commit to addressing this.