Talking About Suicide

Because it's not a taboo

Watching JD Schramm

Sometimes I put items like this straight onto the Resources page without comment, but I wanted to point out this TED talk by attempt survivor JD Schramm, which the TED website says has been watched more than 360,000 times on that site alone. I suggest reading through the comments as well, which are just as striking for the number of people who talk openly, and apparently under their real names, about their own attempts.

It’s a good debate. Some comments argue not only for being more open about suicide but for being more respectful of the people who contemplate it. As surprised as many people might be by such comments as “If we don’t push ourselves to see those in danger of suicide as at least potentially rational equals worthy of our respect, we push them toward the choice to go” and “If we have the right to extend our lives, as we’ve so aggressively asserted with our medical advancements, then we must as well recognize the right of medicine to provide us with an alternative” and “If we really want to help them, why not make it safer and easier?” such sentiments are still part of the public conversation about suicide that’s been waiting so long to happen.

Being no longer ashamed to talk about it means being no longer ashamed to talk about all of it. With the number of suicides not trending down and the even larger number of suicide attempts not even fully known, more exploring of different points of view could lead us to new approaches. “Nothing has ever driven me crazier than being terrified that my feelings _ over which we have no control _ were the wrong sort of feelings to have,” another commenter says.

Schramm says his TED talk is the first time he’s spoken so publicly about his attempt, and I like the way he describes it as coming out of a “totally different kind of closet.” The door is open. How will society treat the people who come through it?

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