Suicide is not your chair to sit on.
In the past month we found ourselves losing two influential artists to our society. Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade.
What followed was a few weeks of various posts, on Twitter and Facebook, that informed people that their friends were there for them. All they needed to do was reach out.
At first I believed this was a good thing. I thought, “Yes. People are becoming aware of the stigma that exists this is good.” And then I started to realize, this is utter bullshit. If you’ve never been in a situation of feeling suicidal, you don’t get to sit on your armchair and tell the world you’re here for someone who is, all they need to do is reach out.
That’s not how this works.
We don’t hear our friends say things like “oh, you have cancer? Have you seen a doctor yet? No? That’s okay. I’m here when you need you me”. Yet, we think that this is an acceptable sentence to say to our friends if their depressed.
So when Bourdain and Spade passed, I kept seeing all these arm chair activists raising their “voice” against suicide by proclaiming that they were “always there for you (friends)”, when in reality, this is not how things work, let alone should work.
Yet, with the rise of Facebook, this is exactly how more of us are thinking these days, and we’re thinking that this behavior is acceptable. Not only being an armchair activist, but an armchair friend.
For the uninitiated, into the realm of depression, anxiety, and any other mental illness, the lines between being a good friend and a great friend is the same.
For those of us who face the same battles every day, between our minds and the navigation of reality, a great friend is someone who is not only trust worthy, but someone who is willing to go the extra mile when you need it.
This means, not sitting on your couch and proclaiming to the world around you that you will be there when your needed. This means taking initiative. Recognizing that your friend may need help but feels like to much of a burden to request it.
So instead, don’t ask, or wait for the invitation. Just do it.
Show up at their house and take them to dinner, or cook their dinner for them. Take the time to ask what’s wrong. More importantly, take the time to listen to what they have to say.
Everyone experiences these symptoms differently, and it’s important to ask and listen and help, not just sit on your phone scrolling through Facebook and Twitter proclaiming your sadness and your willingness to “be there for anyone if they need help.”
In Depression, there is no room for Arm Chair Activism, only Action. So take some.