There’s this article that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s finagled its way into my mind and won’t go away, won’t let me stop thinking about it. And not in a good way.
I can’t stop thinking about an article against the show 13 Reasons Why not because of the well-thought out reasons against the TV show, or because of the author’s self-promoted credentials as a mental health advocate…it’s because of this one line. [Not linking to the article b/c I don't want to give it traction or send hate the author's way.]
If you suffer from suicidal thoughts, I want to warn you here that what I’m about to quote might hurt you. Might make you sad. So feel free to stop reading.
In the fourth paragraph of the article, the author says—you know what, I'm not going to quote it verbatim because it's dangerous. Basically, she says she used to pray her husband's suicide attempts would succeed.
I read her words and just…I felt my heart cave in on itself. I felt my breathing shallow and my lungs collapse. I felt fear and shock and sorrow and my fingers started trembling and didn’t stop for hours.
Because I’ve been there; not in the author’s spot, but in her husband’s. I’ve been in a place of intense pain that has left me reeling, feeling out of options and as though the only good recourse is to die. To inflict my own death. I have wanted to kill myself, have even tried to kill myself.
One of the things that has saved me, saved my life, is the interference of friends. Friends who stepped up to say, “Karis, your death will not help us. Your death will hurt us.” I thank God daily for those friends who implored me to stay alive because they needed me.
You see, the reason I wanted to die is because I thought it would make the world a better place. I’ve always wanted to change the world, to improve it, to rock its foundations in a wild way, and my depression eats at me and twists that desire into something nefarious, convincing me that the way to accomplish that is simple, really: to kill myself.
But my friends, they've tried to show me that isn’t true. They've endeavoured to impress upon me that my death would do harm, not good.
If I had learned, now or ever, that they were praying for me to die — wow, the damage that would do.
The damage this article did to me, even though I don’t know the author and know she isn’t talking about me. Her confession opens the door to that sentiment being the truth.
I believe in the right to communicate and the importance of vulnerability. But there is a responsible way to share, and in this case, the responsible thing would be for the author of the piece to shut up about those thoughts. If she must share them, she should have explained just how misguided she was. She never really does. She says, briefly, that she was misguided, but she never shoulders the responsibility of her horrifying thought. She blames it on a misunderstanding of depression brought about by culture, in part.
But apart from dangerous, that prayer is disgusting. And you know what, I don’t care that she claims to have prayed it for her husband’s sake; I believe wholeheartedly that she also prayed it for her own sake. So she could finally be free.
Maybe that’s my own depression twisting her experience into something nefarious, but you know what, that’s what words do. They have so much power, more than you could ever imagine, and to fling words like that, words with such sharp edges, into the world willy nilly, is something I find irresponsible.
I find it hard to wrap my mind around the fact that the author considers herself a depression advocate, when she seems to have so little idea of the harm her words could do. Merely four days before reading this article, I was severely suicidal, and everything was a sign that I should kill myself.
Her confession opens the door to the possibility that her prayer is one my loved ones have prayed. I can’t get that thought unstuck from my mind: that if she prays that way, maybe the people who love me the most pray so as well.
That’s not merely misguided; that’s betrayal to the utmost degree.
This article, that paragraph in particular, was supremely unnecessary, misguided and virulently dangerous.
So if you’re reading this, know: your death is not going to help anybody, least of all you. No matter what anyone believes or did believe at any point. Know that you can reach out for help: there is a suicide prevention line, 1-800-273-8255, that you can call for help. There are options and there is hope. Don’t listen to this lie.
And if you're someone who's ever prayed that...acknowledge that's a wrong prayer. Acknowledge it's selfish. There is forgiveness for terrible thoughts and prayers, I'm not saying you're condemned for them, but you need to recognize the selfishness of it. And move on.
And if you've had those thoughts, for the love of all things good, don't share it with your depressed friend or family member! I mean, please.