Empathy: Before It’s Too Late

I think it is time we talk about mental health.

We, as a society, need to talk about things like depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia etc. We need to stop turning a blind eye to those who show signs of an issue just because we can’t fathom it ourselves or because it only shows through sometimes.

And, most importantly, we (myself included at times) need to get our humanity back.

It’s time we put away the apathy and the insensitivity, and bring out the empathy and the understanding. You really can never ever know how far up a kind word or gesture can bring someone who is down in the depths of despair. You never know how much a soft answer can turn away a damaging, and sometimes fatal, response in someone who is emotionally VOLATILE. And you never know how much an ignored sign or an overlooked cry for help, can push someone right over the edge.

Why are we so afraid of admitting that though we may not personally identify with suicidal thoughts, that it is something that is crippling enough to others that they sometimes, unfortunately, go through with it? How many more people have to die? People of all races and socioeconomic statuses all feel the same. We all bleed the same. We all have emotions and wants and needs. We all want love. So why have we become so incapable of handling the things that cause others so much pain? Why do we ignore the warning signs only to lead to fatal consequences. Do we prefer to look back in regret, than to let go of our ego and acknowledge that a problem exists and needs to be solved before it cannot be anymore?

There’s no reason why a teenager should see death as the only escape from a life barely even lived yet. There’s no reason why a parent should see their death as a better option for their children. And there is even less of a reason why people should hear of suicide and be angered by it because they find it “selfish”. But it happens. And it shouldn’t. It is fine to admit that you don’t understand what could drive someone to that point. But don’t you dare, in the same breath, look down upon others because they got there. It is important to sit and think about what kind of mental state a person has to be in to take their own life, before opening your mouth and showing your lack of understanding.

Wrap your mind around it for a second. I’m willing to bet that most of you wouldn’t jump off a bridge even if there is water below it and you probably won’t die. So I don’t know who or what gives people the idea that it would be easier to do so if there was no water, and they knew for a fact that they would die.

Suicide isn’t easy. It’s not something people do out of impulse. It’s not the first resort. It’s not a “weak” move or “the easy way out”. It is a result of an extended period of suffering and long-term thought processes that led them to believing it is the only thing left that they can do to stop the pain. (Like a cancer patient deciding they don’t want to fight anymore. Is that selfish too?)  Most times those who contemplate suicide genuinely believe with all of their heart that it is the best thing they can do for their families/others. They don’t think of it as something they are doing for themselves. They think of it as a sacrifice. They think the world would be a better place without them. They don’t see a reason to live, a reason to believe they are valued or loved. And the last thing they fucking need is someone letting them know that they are selfish or inconsiderate on top of that.

So please, stop it. The only inconsiderate person is the person criticizing someone who clearly needs help. Because instead of helping since you are of sound mind, you’re pointing fingers (which by the way doesn’t benefit or console anyone—not even you. It’s just an ego stroke).

I see this insensitivity especially in men and people of colour. I’ve seen it in recent events, with Robin Williams committing suicide, where people would go back and forth spewing vitriol about how he was weak or how he was white and rich and therefore should have been happy— and was simply ungrateful. Or about how his death shouldn’t be affecting people so greatly because he took his own life. I saw all of these hateful words and held in my true thoughts, as someone who has suffered through depression.

But I can’t hold it in anymore. Because someone else has lost the battle—a battle I didn’t even know he was fighting. I’m still in complete shock about it. He was younger than me by many years, with so much opportunity ahead. But he just couldn’t see the light. All he needed was a little help. Maybe a small word of encouragement, and he could still be here.

It cuts me even deeper because I have at least three close people in my life who are suffering through depression right now, that I know of. It is hard, and very turbulent. Some days are really low, and some days are not. And there are no guarantees, sometimes no triggers.

What I need people to understand is that it is not an emotion. Depression is not a feeling, or a state of mind, or a weakness. It is a disease. It is like a cancer of the mind that eats you up and cripples you. It is a darkness that creeps up on you at any moment and doesn’t allow you to see the light. It is not something to be taken lightly, but the fatal results of it can be prevented if we simply acknowledged its existence instead of fighting against it with hateful words or ineptitude.

It is time to STOP neglecting the problem and responding to it with harshness and tough love. That is NOT the way and it is NOT working. We need working responses so we can keep people who have plenty to live for from making an irreversible decision.

The alternative is no longer an option.

P.S. Some of you may already know about my cousin whose mental issue has been neglected for the last five years from a previous blog. He has finally been granted an opportunity to possibly escape his physical confines, to which he should have never been in, and hopefully begin down a path to escaping his mental confines as well. But we need a little help with the expenses. It has been a long, emotional, expensive, and draining battle. But it is not over yet. Please, if you can, help us. The link is below.


Thank you.

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