About suicide

I found an interesting article about the Taiwanese girl, Lin Yi Han (林奕含) at the Reporter. Since not everyone can read Chinese and I feel more people should know this, I will translate and summarize some of the most interesting parts.

Lin Yi Han's speech at her wedding: "If I can be a "new person" (in Chinese, the word for someone who is soon to be wed is made by combining the Chinese characters "new" and "person") on today's wedding, what kind of person do I want to be? I wish to be a person who can understand someone else's pain better... I wish I could be someone who can really help remove the negative label on mental illness. "

She described how she had forgotten how it was before, how happy, smart, and pretty she used to be. It is like she knew very well that it was once like that, but it has become so unfamiliar like a place she never visited. She also thought a lot about the bright future she should have had. With the happy memories and her past life being blurry and the promising future unreachable, she only had the present, which wasn't a gift with all the suffering from sleepless nights, nightmares, dissociation, voices in her head, epileptic spasms, thoughts about suicide, getting in and out of hospitals, and the many medicines she had to take. How she lived one day at a time and how she only had her weekly visit to the doctor to look forward to. She had therapy from 16 to 26 years old and she never got a name for her illness. While the doctor wanted to stay open minded, her surroundings however were quick to put a label on it. It was something to be ashamed of and you should tell nobody about it. She also remembers quite well how the university department head reacted, when she was holding her doctor's letter to get permission to not attend the exams. He asked her where she got the letter, since she looked perfectly normal. She wanted to tell him off, by asking him what he based that on, her appearance, clothing, lipstick, or how she talks? Will she only be believed if she is wearing ragged clothes, if she cannot speak well, if she hadn't taken a shower for 60 days? Or is it that he thinks mental illness isn't really an illness? But she only demurely answered that she got it from the hospital.

It is hard to understand mental illness, when you have never had it. It is not like other illnesses, which you can see on the outside. Most people think that you can get better if you want it bad enough. Something you can get through with sheer determination and strong will power. They tend to give you good advice, such as do this and don't do that. But nobody has the time to really take the time to listen to your problems, pains, and fears. Giving advice and encouraging postive thinking is good, but after a certain point, when the mental illness has gotten too far, it will only sound like nagging and lecturing and it will become a constant reminder of something you cannot do.

I can really relate to the girl's feeling of isolation, the giving up on asking for help from others, and finding a solution yourself somehow. I don't know if I am allowed to think that it is funny, but I actually experienced something similar, when I wanted to end my life during my childhood. Once, she wanted to jump off the balcony, but as she was climbing up, the building guard across the street wanted to peek under her skirt, and she felt so embarrassed that she changed her mind. Suicide really is a spur of a moment thing. You can be fine for a very long time, but all of a sudden, you can feel so desperate and hopeless that you just want to give up and end your suffering. As quickly it may come, the thought of killing yourself can go away just as quickly, if you are lucky enough to have someone walk in on you and stop you. Most people succeed, because they are alone long enough to do it. Of course, it is impossible to be by their side all the time, but keeping them busy with something and be by their side is the best way to stop them. Don't stop doing this, when they tell you that they are fine, often they are not and they just want you to feel less burdened by them. The best way to help them is making them love themselves, love life, and get help for themselves and not for others. Just like how bullying can brainwash a pretty girl into thinking that she is ugly and that something is wrong with her, you can also brainwash someone into thinking that they are good enough to deserve love and happiness and that they should keep on living. It takes a lot of time and you need to constantly repeat those kind words and compliments, but don't give up. At first, those might sound like lies to them and they might push you away, but one day, they will believe it. If positive words don't help, you can also try negative words. I remember imagining about how my bullies would dance and laugh on my grave and I could do nothing about it. I also felt terrible thinking that I would take my secret to my grave and their lies would become the truth. This actually helped me go through high school.

The people around suicide victims often think about what they could have done differently that day and feel guilty for not preventing it from happening, but most of the time, it is already too late. You should have noticed something before it got worse (I just hate the "how are you? I am fine and you?" crap) and the person with mental illness should get help, while it is still small, and should not be afraid that everyone will think that they are crazy, weak, or dangerous, and should not be ashamed of talking about it (talking about it heals) and getting therapy openly (being secretive about it, only makes them feel worse about themselves).

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