This week, designer Kate Spade hung herself. Three days after, celebrity-chef Anthony Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room. Suicide.
Avicii, Verne Troyer, and Frightened Rabbit‘s Scott Hutchison were some of 2018’s other victims of mental illness. As those who live the lives we’ve always wanted continue to take their lives away, the rest of us are left empty-handed with one question: what is going on?
If things feel out of your control, it’s because they are.
“We cannot depend solely on shallow interactions and passive communication through the mirage of connectedness that we call the internet.”
One of the greatest dangers of today is the belief that connectedness by virtual association can cure loneliness, depression, and anxiety. But, as our idols fall, again and again, it becomes clearer that we don’t need more ways to connect with each other through social media as much as we need more ways to just connect with each other. We need more friends than followers because the truth is suicide is not at all exclusive to fame and fortune. And, while most of us can’t do much to comfort the elite, we can use the news of their tragedies to inspire vital everyday conversation between friends, family, and loved ones. If those in the spotlight are in such darkness, what about the rest of us?
Still, how do we pragmatically use a famed tragedy to break the ice with a friend? How do you even start that conversation? You can’t just flat-out ask someone if they sometimes think about suicide, right?
Well, actually, you can. That is even what is encouraged by professionals. Be upfront about suicidal ideation. The more the idea is allowed to simmer in the darkness, the greater the chance that one day it might boil over. We cannot depend solely on shallow interactions and passive communication through the mirage of connectedness that we call the internet.
“Those still in this world but contemplating an exit must know that their feelings of self-worthlessness are not shared by those who love them.” Mourn the death of idols, remember we are all broken, and honor the fallen by helping others rise from the darkness. Build authentic relationships. Start a conversation.