Sunday, June 11, 2006

Out of the Darkness Overnight: suicide prevention

Is there anything more important than human life? If so, then why does a large section of society stigmatize and ignore those who attempt suicide? Often while we can readily support those who deal with attacks on the body, from deficient immune systems to cancer many cannot understand and genuinely fear those who suffer from attacks within the mind. For example, a tenured professor at PCC has recently been fired for failing to fill in the medical leave paperwork correctly during a major depressive episode.

The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention organizes the Out of the Darkness Overnight, a 20 mile sponsored walk through the dark of night and ending at the light of dawn. It takes place in San Francisco on July 22-23 and in Chicago on Aug 12-13 and participants are asked to raise $1000 to help toward Suicide awareness and prevention. Last year the AFSP funded $2 million in 25 different research projects. They also fund education tools, support groups, and advocacy awareness.

Because I live 1500 miles away from both locations I cannot do the walk, but I support those who do, and encourage everyone to either take the walk or find someone doing it and support them. You may want to support the Chicago Gay Blogger Autocrat who lost his boyfriend to suicide. His blog covers, on the seven days of suicide awareness week, aspects of suicide and being a survivor of someone who committed suicide. You can follow his fundraising progress or financially sponsor him here. Or you can sponsor Rolo Talorda who is walking to support his friend who lost her mother to suicide, or Angelina Padilla who walks for herself and her 12 year old daughter, recently diagnosed with depression. Every minute in the US someone attempts suicide and every 18 minutes someone succeeds. That means every 18 minutes, one unique life is gone and many more left to deal with the pain of loss. I think preventing that is worth fighting for.

I planned and attempted suicide at 13; that was the first time. Here are some signs you may know too much about suicide: You know all about the taste of charcoal, You know what this means: “lateral NOT vertical”, Alcohol poisoning is really, really hard to do (unless you are in a frat house), and dying from exposure takes a LOT longer than it did on Little House on the Prairies.

Friends of mine have committed suicide and I have talked others down. I understand why those who killed themselves did so, but I wish they hadn’t. I know about the physical and emotional pain of depression and when you stop hoping in a future that isn’t a living hell but one that is just at rest. But I believe that here, in life, is where things happen and that is why, it is better to be here, no matter how fucked up you might be, than taking yourself out of the game. New drugs for the physical causes are being developed every year. Now getting a society that stops making LGBT people, especially youth, feel alienated and sub-human might take a little longer.

There are, as is all things in American life, some protestors of Out of the Darkness Overnight. These people say that it is a tool of the big pharmaceuticals whose drugs cause more depression than cure (hahahahaha...oh wait, you’re serious). For me, if George Bush and Saddam Hussein got up together and announced a program on suicide prevention, I would support it. I don’t care who helps or why they help, all I care about is getting in time to the person who feels they would rather die than face just one more day. They matter.


Murray said...

I wasn't aware of "Out of the Darkness Overnight" and what they are doing. Thanks for what you shared with us. A heavy but important subject if we care at all about those we share the planet with.

elizabeth said...

I've lost a friend to suicide. One of the hardest things I've ever gone through. You are right - they do matter and we NEED to get that message out there.

elizabeth said...

Everyone matters. Every single person out there.

GayProf said...

Thanks for sharing this important post. It’s frustrating that people still stigmatize those who seek psychiatric help.

Ancilla said...

hello. it's my first comment here :)

well, do you believe that those person who commited to suicide will find friends (at least a friend) who have the same feeling/thing?

i see it as a blessing. somehow their existence means that no one of us are alone in this world.