I was at lunch with some friends the other day telling a story about this guy I once was seeing who was sad all the time. I made the flippant, joking statement that his depression was so contagious that, “I wanted to blow my own brains out after every conversation with him”. At that very moment, I looked across the table and was reminded that one of the friends sitting there had once told me that his mother committed suicide several years ago. I immediately felt remorse for my words.
It was later in the same lunch that another friend at the table mentioned, in the context of her weekend plans with her cousin’s daughter, that her cousin committed suicide last year. Again, I immediately felt like a world-class idiot and apologized for my flippant remark earlier. She said it was fine, but I couldn’t help but feel as low as I’d ever felt and as unfeeling and insensitive as I’d ever been.
In my home town, the number of suicides and suicide attempts has risen in the last few years and the number seems to be rising all throughout our country. I had a friend in high school who did it right after graduation. I know people who have lost loved ones to depression. Celebrities have made headlines with their final acts. And, I am reading a novel right now where the right to die with dignity is such a part of the dialogue that it’s basically a character in the story.
So, how can I be so flippant about the topic? How can anybody? Yet, when we are having a bad day we send our best friend a text message that is simply an angry or sad emoji face with a gun pointed at it.
This shouldn’t be a flippant thing. It shouldn’t be so dismissive. We never know when someone around us has battled themselves, or lost someone in that manner. We need to choose our words and emojis carefully. I can only try never to make light of the topic ever again and hopefully, we will all – one day – stop thinking the flippant jokes are funny or okay.