We've had so much to be happy about this year, and yet so much to make us sad. While we're grateful for all the amazing things this year has brought, we also need to recognize the losses. Just yesterday as we were pondering the death of Chris Cornell on what would have been his 53rd birthday, we saw the shocking and tragic news of Chester Bennington's suicide.
These two men had families, wives, children who loved them. They were incredibly talented, had risen to a level of success that many will not know, and they were loved by their fans and yet, the world that they lived in weighed on them to the point they felt they had to take their own lives. As a fellow musician, and someone who has dreamed of having what they had since I was a small child, I'm trying to understand.
I don't have answers, and I know there are strong opinions on this subject. Many people think that suicide is a selfish act and, while from a certain perspective I can't argue with that I believe that, as with anything there are endless perspectives. Of course we are most likely to empathize with those who are left behind and have to deal with the aftermath - they're living, breathing, grief-stricken humans, oftentimes far to young to have to deal with such tragedy. But the harsh judgements towards these 'selfish' people who have somehow felt that the world would be better off without them, I feel also do the people still suffering from mental illness a disservice. How do you think a judgement like this makes them feel?
I can add some insight to this, having suffered from anxiety and depression (thankfully at a somewhat manageable level) for most of my life. It makes us feel as though the whole world can't see us, can't fathom how we see it and can't be bothered to even try to understand. If it sounds like I'm placing blame, I'm not. There is nothing more difficult than trying to see the world from someone else's perspective, and to place blame would be unproductive. What I am trying to say is that, without each of us trying a little harder to understand each other, we will continue to lose people.
Let's face it, maybe we will lose people anyway, but I for one would like to think that if my friend or loved one were struggling with something so severe that they were thinking of taking their own life, they could come talk to me about it. If they can't talk to me, hopefully they are strong enough to seek therapy, or to call a hotline. There is no shame in mental illness - it's exactly that, an illness, and seeking help is not weak, it's one of the best kinds of strength a person can display.
Ultimately, the decision to act on these feelings is up to the individual suffering, but there is something very important that each of us can do every day in an attempt to make the world more bearable for them, and really for everyone. Look at the person next to you, recognize that you have no idea what they are going through today, what they went through yesterday, or throughout their life. Try to understand. Understand that everyone struggles, no matter what you might perceive about how perfect their life might be. If you're thinking of saying something hurtful, ask yourself whether that's really necessary, and try to find something kind to say or do.
Of course no one is perfect. We all have our good days and bad, but I would like to think that most people in the world want to do good. Not everyone will be able to understand everyone else, but if you can't understand, please just try to empathize.
Suicide Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255