👇🏿 ain’t got no time for that? press play for the radical radio recording ✨
let’s say the thing…
in suicide; in suicidal thoughts; in naming the pink elephant in the room; in trauma; in ptsd; in grief; in mourning; in alcoholism; in the pink elephant in the room; could we please, for the love of all things holy, say the thing.
if we did, if we said the thing, think how much more suicide, and suicidal thoughts, could be normalized. think how much saying the thing could alleviate the shame, pain, and suffering we go through when someone we love dies by suicide. or when we’re having our own suicidal thoughts, how great it would be if the shame and stigma of suicide was lifted even by a degree, even by one marginal degree now, how over years that degree could shift from marginal difference to magnitudes of change. or when i’ve experienced trauma and am experiencing ptsd, could it be ok in public to talk about these things without having to whisper about it, or soak my tears into my scarf, or audit my words before they touch my tongue to protect the eavesdropping ears at the next table.
to have anger, to feel it roil and boil in my bones and blood, and to have social permission to take three minutes of yelling out loud and stomping my feet in the downtown core, in daylight. and when we experience loss in our life could we talk about it as such and not cover it up as pretty little clichés that don’t allow our children the just understanding of death, grieving and mourning. could we say the thing. could we talk about it, please.
if we speak about these bastard pink elephants that continue to (surprise!) follow us around all our lives and, who also tend to show up no matter whose house we’re visiting, if we speak about these bastard pink elephants and by doing so allow ourselves the freedom of acknowledgement, then perhaps we could unbind ourselves a bit. perhaps we could remove a bind, or ten, those woven so tightly around our wrists, necks, ankles, bellies, those that have belied us to the crucifix of our own humanness. binds that are woven directly from shame, guilt, perceived sin, binds that are woven of the darkness that hides and creeps and spins of great mysterious lore, the ‘don’t do its’, and ‘you’re sinful and going to hell ifs’, and the other tortured lame thoughts we sink ourselves in on this path of being human.
could we see, then, perhaps that a way out of these binds, a way out of this crucified place of our imagined hell on earth is to talk about the thing. isn’t that a path of redemption. a walk of glory to god in this way that we might too find on this path that these thoughts, these experiences, they are part of the whole roundedness of our human experience. they too are what create us whole. they too are needed and necessary and a wonderfully complex and divine part of our dimensional selves.
and too, by saying the thing we release the power that has been built and is bonding us to our elephant crucifix. we release the pressure valve that keeps us separate and slain through our own shame spinning. we open the door and turn on the light, we flip the blinds, open the window and let some fresh air in. by saying the thing we acquaint ourselves with what it is to be in that room. we become accustomed to its smells, we befriend the elephant. we invite others in through our saying the thing and eventually we find a common place.
a common place for us, our own selves to sit and gather and connect together through the tragedy, the horror, the loss, the death, the grief, through the addictions and suicidal thoughts, through this all into our greater connection. we sit through the awkward, the intimidating, the fucking scary conversations that are necessary and we become in that acknowledgement: more whole, more human, and above all, more connected.
it’s there, in that room, squished around that pink elephant that we remember our place, touched shoulder to shoulder, elbow to elbow, knee to knee, with our brothers and sisters. those who see us, those who save us, those who free us. and together, we rise.
and if we don’t? what really is the loss? why does it matter? if we don’t talk about this bright beauty beast, what skin would it be off of my back. what really would the harm be?
the harm is in the thousands of humans, our brothers and sisters, who die daily by suicide. they had life, and in their own hands they then erased themselves. they killed themselves. not 147 people. not just a handful. over 2000 people kill themselves, daily. the world health organization tallies over 1,000,000 people who die by suicide each year. this is one person every 40 seconds. three people every 2 minutes. six people in 4 minutes. nine people in 6 minutes. how many more minutes must i list in order for this to matter to us?
at what point, or, how large does this elephant have to be before it matters to us? before it becomes a regular and accepted part of our daily lexicon of language. beyond allowing it into our shared, used language, at what point does it become shameless to speak of suicide: with our loved ones, our friends, our colleagues, our children, our dying brothers and sisters.
one million people per year, these, the documented deaths by suicide.
how do we count the other: death by motorcycle accident at the hands of they who have been riding for decades; death by prescription drug overdose; death by alcohol abuse; death by the hands of we who are committed to it: by street drugs, by sports accidents, by insulin overdose, death by disappearance, death by drowning.
death, at the hands of those who feel that living in this life is no longer an option. who feel the pain of this world stacked, pressed, planted firmly on their shoulders, weighted down on them. who feel the rush of their thoughts, berating them, shaming them, paining themselves into a relentless hell that just. won’t. quit. who are plain and passed over by others, their own thoughts and ideas mired with shock and disbelief when they hear of death by suicide.
“who, rick? i never would have thought.”
“nancy? she seemed so happy at work.”
suicide will continue to be the solo silent killer of our brothers and sisters, millions of them, if we continue to ignore this growing elephant. the pain, the hurt, the trauma, the deep soulful sadness that we gloss over. it’s tragic.