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  • Would you know a cry for help?

    Yesterday, my partner came home saying someone he knows had attempted suicide the day before and only failed thanks to a Facebook status update that prompted a friend of his to call 911.

    Reaching out saved his life, but only because someone else acknowledged his cry for help.

    Not an easy thing to do in a world that expects you to be strong and self-reliant in every way then looks down on you if you're not.

    Not an easy thing to do in a world that expects you to save your own life.

    If asking for help is seldom an easy task in regular situations, reaching out when you feel invisible and worthless requires the kind of courage you don't think you have if you're considering suicide in the first place.

    But if suicide is the final way out, a deliberate and permanent exit from a life that has nothing more to give, doesn't its execution require the kind of courage most people would never have?

    Nevertheless, suicide is rarely portrayed as an informed and thoroughly thought out decision. It's more likely to be viewed as an act of cowardice than bravery and inspire pity rather than empathy.

    Because, deep down, we're usually too wrapped up in our own selves to look out for anyone else, too cynical to even consider the possibility that life might be harmful to some because most of us just get on with it. We refuse point blank to even try and understand suicide - we're terrified that if we do, it might no longer appear completely irrational.

    Worse, we might end up identifying with it, especially if the circumstances surrounding a suicide or a suicide attempt point to a sentient and intellectual choice rather than one influenced by a chemical imbalance in the brain.

    Suicide - be it thinking about it, reflecting at length on it or attempting it - is one of the last societal tabus, so unmentionable that you'd be hard-pressed to broach the topic with anyone even close for fear they might swiftly boot you out of their life, commit you to the nearest psych ward, mock you or simply ignore you.

    The question remains: would you know a cry for help? Or would you dismiss it as a self-indulgent flight of fancy from someone who just needs to buck up and take responsibility for their own life?

    And if someone mustered the last of whatever shred of courage they had left in them and asked you to save their life, would you willingly step in as a superhero or run for the hills?

    That's why reaching out is always a long shot and not everyone harboring suicidal thoughts will even attempt it prior to following through.

    Instead, suicide becomes their legacy.

    Because voluntary death is never an extreme attention-seeking stunt, but a silent cry in a deaf world.
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