Talking About Suicide

Because it's not a taboo

Reading about Kathleen Stewart and Darnell L. Moore

I’d like to point out two recent essays by suicide attempt survivors.

Kathleen Stewart writes about her attempt as a teenager and her decision to speak out:

My “areas of expertise” thus far in the field of social services are torture, suicide and rape. These are words that have become a natural part of my vocabulary, and words that few people say. Many times, I’ve been asked why I want to work with such difficult topics.

My heartfelt and natural answer has been, “Why not?” I’m pained by these things, but I’m not afraid of them. I’m afraid of our not asking about them, our not talking about them.

She adds that she hates getting sympathy from others when she shares parts of her past: “Part of this is because I’m stronger than the things I went through, and I don’t want to be defined by them. I don’t want anyone else to feel that I’m defining them as a person by painful events in their life.”

Darnell L. Moore writes about how his struggles were linked to abuse at home and bullying on the street:

By the time I entered my early twenties, suicidal thoughts had become my primary response to pain. In them, I felt a strange comfort in knowing that the pain caused by others and traumatic life circumstances would end.

To get to that end—a space of peace, and freedom from victimization—I came to the wrong conclusion that I needed to sacrifice myself: to die to at once be free. I did not realize that freedom would not come by way of my death—whether imagined or real—but by the radical transformation of spaces: through the dismantling of ideas and the removal of people who created the “hells” in my life that had me longing for “heaven.” It wasn’t clear to me, like it is today, that by killing myself I would have aided the perpetrators and systems that had been trying to do so for years. I became my own offender, metaphorically preying on myself and carrying the same weapons (not unlike the kerosene and lighter) that some others had used against me years before.

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