Today I am writing about death, and much of it will focus on suicide. My intended audience is people who have or are considering it, but I do not write as a mental health professional or as a substitute for medical intervention. If you are unsafe, right now, get help right now. Please.
Meditations on Untimely Death.
This is a letter to anyone who is considering making today their last, or who just wishes they could bring themselves to try. I know you’re not supposed to be able to come back from the shame of this, that once someone has done something to hurt themselves or just really wanted to, over the cuckoo’s nest they go and nevermore to return. But none of that is true–we can not only come back but become great.
Great in all the ways that are safe, you know–in the ways that we never expected. We can find healing, learn to manage, find ways to thrive, to shine. We can make our own way in the world, support each other’s neurodiversity, fight the societal judgments against our differing capabilities and needs. We can center our stories and build the support into our networks that we may not have on our own.
I feel like
It’s World Suicide Prevention Day, and a day to remember the tragedy of 2001, the ongoing tragedies of domestic terrorism, the unprosecuted murders committed daily by those whom we are supposed to be able trust as public servants, as keepers of the peace. And it’s hard to hold all of that in our hearts, and witness the glaciers melt, witness the
Witness the cruelty of other human beings, as they practically dance on the graves of complete strangers. The utter disgust I feel for the actions of those who are laughing and joking about the accident in Mecca today–and under that disgust, really, disappointment. Not surprise, but–couldn’t we have just this once done better, as humans?
And folks have the nerve to cite the will of G-d in this.
And the frightening thing is
I’m not offering mental health advice because I’m not qualified for that. What I have to offer is my empathy. I want you to know that if you are experiencing those thoughts/feelings right now, or if it’s something you experience often, there are things you can do to stay safe. There are choices, options for you, in what feels like a great nothingness.
I’m writing about my experiences today and I just don’t want you to read about all this if it’s not the right time. If at any point you need to stop reading, do it. This is going to get into the deep shadows and I want you to mind your step. There is a non-religious, not at all saccharine, plainly written website that I would recommend to anyone under a fog of hopelessness–Areason.org. I think I found it by literally Googling “reason to live.”
I had put it on my to-do list, to find one, and so why not start with the internet?
(Also does anyone else who uses the internet these days still have the impulse to capitalize “Internet” like we first learned?)
Anyway. at one of my lower points in a pretty deep valley this past year I found that site and it was really helpful, because I need to be talked down from a panic or up from a slump sometimes but phone calls make me anxious. Something like this, to read on my own, works for me.
I still keep one of the quotes on my desktop. I found it helped me to put things in a different perspective when I was having trouble shifting angles on my own–really good for when I wasn’t so much in an acute crescendo as in a swamp of chronic pain.
You want to know one of the main reasons I don’t like to call? I reach someone who don’t know death like I do. I reach someone who wants to help and is kind about it, but when we don’t even see life and death the same way, it makes it difficult to just address the issue of the pain pushing me over–like I always have to play this role:
“Hi, I’m calling because suicide is Morally Reprehensible and I happened to have a Single Thought about it and I just don’t want to do too much more of that, because we all agree it’s Terrible and Bad.”
Which, I feel that, minus the universal morality aspect. I think every case stands on its own. More importantly, when we are so quick to judge those that we lose to suicide, when we deem them weak or, worse, somehow traitors to their friends/families/all of humanity, we don’t look enough at the living who seem close to the edges.
We shy away from the “walking wounds,” the
I used past tense, describing my suicidal thoughts/feelings, and the truth is I have not felt that way in what feels like a long time right now.
That’s whay but I want to say something about the suicide narrative that we have, where we’re only allowed to talk about it if it’s a “used to” situation–this is not helping anyone. We need to be talking more about the kind of suicidal that isn’t a fluke. We need to be talking more about the death following us around corners.
We need to be talking about management. We talk about it in such a binary way, like every time you call a therapist they say something like “if you’re feeling suicidal, call 911,” and I’m not trying to down that. I am all in favor of anyone making a move to help themselves, even if it seems like too big of a deal, rather than taking
CW death, hate crimes, police brutality
We’ve just passed a full moon, the month is now ending. It gets harder these days, the passage of time, as we no longer so quietly die.
As suspicions we’ve held for years, truths we’ve always known, become more and more publicly shared, there is almost a shock to the psyche. We bound together by this whirlwind of energy, caught up and swirling in the agony and ecstasy of being known, of being real, and not being found a fiction how in the world do you reconcile your reality with the farce we’re no longer agreeing to? How do you get up and go to the store and all that when ignorance is no longer (never was, but I’m saying, y’all sure know how to find us when you’re objectifying us, but somehow the Google at your house stops working when you need to know whether we really do experience discrimination) an excuse.
Look, this is the deal.
I, even as a law-abiding citizen of this country, am more likely to be harmed than helped by its own police force. MOST people in this country are in this position
I know that you know this, at this point, especially if you live here.
So if you would really, really really–or, okay, even a little bit—if I know some part of you is over there like the movement against this danger that I know you KNOW I face
than get the fuck in line behind us and PUSH
And you can multiply this times EVERYTHING when you get a bunch of
Oderint dum metuant.
The phrase comes from this Itadogun’s reading posted by the Oyeku Ofun Temple–divination done by their babalawo for each 17-day period. I have seen this phrase appear before–I haven’t been following their readings for long, but I have seen it twice so far, so I am wondering if it is one that comes up often. Right in the beginning of the reading:
“On this Itadogun, IFA warns us against untimely death.”
And I’m like–what else is new. But I don’t intend to be flippant–I just get tired.
To be Black (+ queer; +trans,* especially for women) in the US is to be very aware of one’s mortality, and that the factors most directly influencing this mortality may very well be completely beyond our control: caught in the line of fire of a war that is only now becoming visible to those who do not live it.
Like, y’all this country has never stopped hunting us down. I am not sorry to tell you, I am mad you didn’t know, like you thought maybe the problem was, what, education?
People always want to jump to, like, textbook quality or something when our kids are not safe in this country. Not an inch of this soil.
And the ones who prey on us are claiming that #BlackLivesMatter is “dangerous rhetoric.”
If they can’t be sure whether our lives matter to them, we can be sure that our deaths do not.
“Eleggua is the great divine witness to all humanity’s actions. He is also the first to test our integrity and our word. Because of this quality many followers of Santeria consider Elegba to be a trickster or a troublemaker. At our church we prefer to think of him as the great experimenter, always testing humanity to see what will happen next. Eleggua is always propitiated first in every ceremony that we do (after the ancestors have been honored, that is) so that he can open the road and our ebó will reach its destination.”
—Santeria Church of the Orishas (emphasis added)
So this is where I come at this topic of untimely death today.
How do we deal with this, internally–how does it affect us and what can we do? These issues are inherently personal, the kinds of justice we seek. They affects us directly as individuals, and our own communities–so when we are
“This may be the last time.
This may be the last time, children–
This may be the last time,
May be the last time, I don’t know.
The first time I heard this song was on a recording by the Blind Boys of Alabama. The group has been recording, performing, touring,