Friends, there’s a lot of discussion of suicide happening online right now.
Take care of yourselves.
Give yourself permission to not engage, if that’s what you need.
Give yourself permission to engage, if that’s what you need.
As is often the case, the discussion of suicide ends up being so individualized – framed as something internal to the person experiencing suicidality, something to be fixed within them. (Within us, for those of us who have been or are dealing with suicidality.)
There are other ways to talk about this issue.
There are ways to talk about this in non-individualizing and non-pathologizing ways – despair as a response to injustice, as a response to trauma, as a response to social and cultural context.
Individual therapy does not fix systemic oppression.
Systemic oppression is not an individual problem – experiencing the effects of systemic oppression is not an internal failing.
This doesn’t mean that we can’t resist the influence of suicidality in our lives, or that we can’t support each other in resisting it.
I absolutely agree that we need better access to better therapy (and by that I mean many things, not least of which is access to trans therapists, therapists of colour, queer therapists, Indigenous therapists, *peer* support systems – not only so that there is culturally sensitive therapy available *but also* so that marginalized and oppressed communities can see pathways into healing roles for themselves – the fact that marginalized communities are often framed as always accessing help and never offering help, always the “client” and never the “expert”, is a further injustice).
I agree that we need better healthcare, that we need to include mental health in our healthcare coverage and discussion.
I agree that “if you can’t make your own neurotransmitters, storebought is fine.”
I agree that if you need help, reach out.
But I *do not* agree that this is primarily a problem of individuals.
I think this is a systemic problem.
It is a structural problem.
It is a response to injustice, and we will not solve it by placing the responsibility on the individuals who are experiencing the problem.
If you are suicidal, and you want to talk about it in ways that contextualize and externalize rather than individualize and internalize, know that you’re not alone.
The way the individualizing narrative can grate… that’s not just in your head.
And if you are part of the communities that have already been dealing with suicides and suicidality – Indigenous folks, trans folks, queer folks, disabled folks, poor folks – and it hurts to see the conversation flare up when privileged folks experience suicidality in a way that just doesn’t happen when your folks deal with it… that’s not just in your head, either. It is an injustice.
These conversations are hard, and there is so much fear and grief embedded in them. But we can have these conversations. We can talk about these issues in ways that don’t shift the burden onto individuals, in ways that help us strengthen our connections to each other and to our own stories of resistance and resilience.
We can respond to this problem in ways that reach towards collective liberation.
Resources and further reading:
Metanoia’s If You’re Suicidal, Read This First
Eponis : Sinope’s Everything is Awful and I am Not Okay: Questions to Ask Before Giving Up
Locate a crisis line near you
Loree Stout’s Talking about the ‘suicidal thoughts’: Towards an alternative framework (this is an academic paper, link is to the PDF, but it is readable and gives an idea of a narrative therapy approach to suicidality)