The deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain last week still have me thinking. I went through a lot of emotions, just like I’m sure you did – the disbelief, the sadness, the anger, the confusion. I read a lot of what others had to say, listened to what others had to say. Watched as the suicide lifeline phone number was shared around the internets – hell, I shared it to because it seemed like the only thing that somehow made a little sense. I’m still in disbelief, I still really do not understand suicide. And I think this past week has taught me something, to stop trying to understand it because its not likely something I will ever understand.
I learned a lot last week – that suicide is one of two causes of death that is on the rise in America (the other being Alzheimers). That suicide is more common in men than in women. That handguns are used at a much higher degree than any other ‘tool’. And that in about half of the cases of suicide, there is no history of mental illness. These stats are all meaningful, and. help to paint a very meaningful picture of what is going on today. But they leave so much still unknown.
I kept going back to my dark days in New Jersey and thinking, then, how useless I felt. How I wasn’t making a difference anymore – and that I wasn’t performing at the levels I expected of myself. But I never did think that it would be better if I wasn’t here, or that they my pain would go away if wasn’t here. I kept asking why – why do some people start to believe those voices? And then I thought about how I felt so alone back then and that I was sure that others probably felt the same way, and I just hurt. It hurt and I felt like nothing I could do could or would make a difference in those people who were hurting so much. I know all the things they say are the right things to say – but would they make a difference?
Can we? – make a difference? What if we started asking how others were and really stopped to listen to their answers instead of breezing by? What if we started to smile at strangers every once in a while? What if we went out of our way with family, friends, colleagues — could these simple acts make a difference to someone who needed it?
I don’t know. But I think its worth the try.