On a sad note, there have been recent back to back suicides that took the lives of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain but, on a positive note, it has sprung a conversation in the media about suicide, which offers a chance to educate and reach out to those that might need help.
Having said that, a friend of mine recently told me he had suicidal thoughts, and asked me if I had ever contemplated suicide. My immediate response was, “Ah, no, I am too great, and the world needs me.” In other words, there’s my manic grandiosity taking hold. Thankfully I have never had suicidal thoughts, but, when I sat back and thought about it, in my past, prior to medication and psychiatric help, I have acted suicidal.
People often times think of suicide as something you think about, plan, ruminate on, and prepare for etc… but there are other ways suicide can manifest itself. So, when I say I’ve acted suicidal, I think of things I did in my past which I refer to as the roaring twenties, and situations I put myself in which were dangerous. Running around manic in NYC left me in bad situations that at the time, I thought were normal, or not a big deal but, when I really look back, I am damn lucky to be alive.
I’m not going to list the stupid stuff I’ve done but, you don’t have to have suicidal thoughts to reflect suicidal behavior. Being self destructive, in my opinion, is a form of suicide that should be taken very seriously. You might have a loved one that might make a joke about a night out on the scene acting wild. Or a friend that is embarrassed about his or her behavior so doesn’t disclose much, but, if you pay close attention you will see signs.
For example, back in the day, if I was out with friends having fun, somewhere out of nowhere, I would get the urge to leave. I would literally just get up and go without saying goodbye to anyone. This became a pattern and my friends would voice concern cause they didn’t know where I went, or how I got home, and it was worrisome. I remember one of my best friends sitting me down and kindly explaining to me that she just needs to know if I take off that I am ok. If I wasn’t going to do a formal goodbye, I had to send her a text so she knew I was ok.
On the flip side, when I was depressed and looked like walking death (I literally wore sweat pants for a living, would live off of cheese and crackers, and would not leave my house.) When I would isolate and not answer calls or texts she came up with a code word if things got bad. She said to text her the word “snowed” if I really needed help. If you know someone that suffers from depression, and tends to drop off the planet it’s good to have a plan. Come up with a word that notifies your loved one that you need help. I’ve never had to use it but it makes me feel good to know I have someone there for me should I need help. So again, I was not suicidal as far as my thoughts were concerned but I was acting suicidal. I wasn’t taking care of myself, and it was reflected in my attire. I remember I would walk to my local store in my sloppy clothes, and rats nest hair, and people would look at my oddly which only made things worse, but, clothing can be a sign of acting suicidal as well.
My heart goes out to anyone that has contemplated suicide, but, it also goes out to those that conduct themselves in a suicidal fashion. If someone is acting self destructive there is an underlying problem. And, if you know someone that might have these traits, it might be good to come up with a word. We don’t always know how people feel, but, if you pay attention to signs of self destructive behavior, you might need to step in and say something.