RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
I am suicide.
From the beginning of time, countless people have tried and failed to eliminate me from society. Regardless of society’s persistent efforts, I continue to claim victims, and my level of success has grown with each new generation. To open one’s awareness, I offer insight that won’t be found at a senior leader’s public address to eradicate me, nor within the adminisphere of computer based training modules to recognize my warning signs. Nothing society has presented to date has averted my agenda.
Simply stated, my agenda is mental morbidity that ends in physical demise: not to convince someone their entire life isn’t worth living, just to convince someone that their life right now isn’t worth living. Stopping me and my agenda in its tracks opens the purpose of this narrative.
To begin with bluntness; society’s energies are directed at the wrong target, which works greatly in my favor. If society wants to know me, it must change the mindset of defining not what I am, but defining who I am – I am not an action or a state, nor an occurrence; instead, I am in a class all my own, I exist. The face society puts on my existence is entirely up for chance, but until I am recognized as an existence, society cannot begin to eradicate me; I will continue the path I have endured for generations.
Knowing I exist in the physical sense leads to an explanation regarding how I work. First, I rarely discriminate. I reach beyond what society’s statistics and data infers. It seldom matters if my potential victims are male or female, old or young, black or white because it is not the person I seek, but the opportunity. While statistics may show I am synonymous with one’s depression, broken relationship, financial hardship, personal or professional mistake, I assure you the opportunities I influence range across the continuum.
I may surface during an insignificant emotional event by society’s definition, to a significant emotional event in my potential victim’s definition. Most efforts to find insight into my existence are futile because I rarely replicate my behavior, and every opportunity I am presented with is just as unique as my potential victims. While my work is singularly unique, my habit patterns remain the same, and the outcome of my work is oftentimes catastrophic.
Once the opportunity presents itself, I drive into action. I relentlessly attack my potential victim’s thought processes in order to seclude them from the rest of society. Through thought manipulation, I force potential victims to compartmentalize themselves; taking away their ability to connect, and creating the belief that my potential victim is completely alone. I want my potential victim to question who they can confide in, and while doing so, I watch as they lose faith in their perceived trust network. My staying power throughout this process reveals one glaring outcome: time does not heal everything.
Next, I want to change my potential victim’s thoughts into relentless emotions of my existence. I want my victim to live in constant rumination; to feel their resolve weaken as they lose their ability to overcome the thought of me. I want my potential victim to lose who they are as a person. When I feel my potential victim begin to think “what in the world is wrong with me,” I know I am gaining a foothold on the inevitable. But I don’t stop there. I want my potential victim to question why their significant emotional circumstance is unique, when they have seen countless others endure what they are going through – I want my potential victim to feel weak.
Then, I patiently wait while my potential victim attempts to self-heal. Lacking the courage to appear vulnerable to outside intervention, over time, they reach for popular self-help books, explore YouTube videos, practice meditation, consume alcohol, trying anything they can to release my heaviness; all the while, living in secrecy just below the shadows of society’s view – refusing to show the world they are struggling. Failing to show vulnerability among their trust network only encourages me to stay the course; eventually, I feel their hope begin to fade.
The moment to strike surfaces when I feel my potential victim begin to deal with logic through an illogical lens. I am keen to these thought patterns: “...I can no longer fight this; it is time for me to leave…I have tried and failed; there is only one answer left…If I make the decision now, I won’t have to endure this pain any longer...”
Society should be amazed, as I often am, how fast one arrives at this conclusion. One day they are on top of the world, and the next day they are contemplating my existence. Unfortunately, for the innocent bystander, it is nearly impossible to recognize the fruits of my labor until it is too late, because those who are smiling the most are often times hurting the worst.
Regardless, after I have navigated my pre-determined course, finally, my potential victim and I meet at a crossroads where one of two things happen:
(1) The decision, fueled by resilience, courage, beliefs, someone showing that they care, or some other factor, drives my potential victim to a “snap-back” moment where life’s reality comes into direct conflict with my reality. A transformational shift in my potential victim’s thought process derails my progress: “…this is not who I am…I will not be another statistic…I will find hope through this storm...”
My potential victim comes to the conclusion they can no longer continue down the path they are on by themselves, and they make an extremely bold decision to openly express their vulnerability to an outside source. Traditionally, they turn to someone among their trust network (a spouse, a family member or a friend), or they make an even a bolder decision to seek help from a professional stranger (a Spiritual leader, medical staff member or a counselor.)
This decision point, which can happen at any time throughout this process is a critical moment that ultimately determines life or death. Without my potential victim’s “snap-back” moment, chances of my success rise enormously.
(2) The “snap-back” opportunity escapes, and I win.
There is no science or art to my modus operandi; this is who I am and how I navigate. Understand first that I exist, and couple this reality that it is never about the person – only the opportunity. To eradicate me from society, my potential victim must have the snap-back moment and embrace their vulnerability, which drives the desire to ask for help. Combine that with outside intervention, and my chances of success deteriorate almost immediately. When the call is made, the trusted agent, fueled by the tools they have garnered over their lifetime, must take responsibility for the life of my potential victim.
As unfortunate as it is, I will not stop until I am stopped. If you think you are invincible, you might be right, but when the opportunity presents itself, you must prove me wrong.
I am suicide.
Author's Note - This commentary was written with the assistance of several perspectives with the intention of bringing a new face to the great problem of suicide that is challenging our family of Airmen every day, and to turn our traditional take on this issue upside down so we might identify new approaches to combating it. I urge you, the reader, to take that step of vulnerability and open up to those around you. Encourage your friends, neighbors, wingmen and those whom you love to do the same. We need you. You are valued.