The dark thing that sleeps in me
Thomas Joiner, author of “Lonely at the Top: The high cost of Men’s success” is an avid suicide researcher. He lost his father to suicide.
His career choice is dismissed by some as : “You’re just trying to fix your own psychological problems, just like all mental health professionals.” Having psychological problems is not insulting. They are common, often treatable and nothing to be ashamed of.
Surely, heart and cancer researchers are not perceived in the same light. This is another reflection of the stigma that surrounds suicide.
Stigma is fear combined with disgust, contempt and lack of compassion – all of which flow from ignorance. We need to understand that suicide is not easy, painless, cowardly, selfish, vengeful or rash. It is not caused just by medicines, anorexia, smoking or plastic surgery. It is partly genetic and influenced by mental disorders which in themselves are agonising. That it is preventable (eg. through means restriction like bridge barriers) and treatable (talk about suicide is not cheap and should warrant specialist referral).
Once we get all that in our heads, we need to let it lead our hearts.
“I am terrified of this dark thing that sleeps in me,
All day I feel its feathery turnings,
– by Sylvia Plath
Source: ‘Myths about Suicide’ by Thomas Joiner.