By Joshie Jaxon
Suicidal tendencies is a misnomer, but it is a better title for a post. That will be my one and only joke on this. This one is vey personal for me. I’m not sure where I want to begin. There’s so much on my mind, that I want to make sure that I share it all, but that I’m also sensitive to those who may be struggling as well. To date, I am thirty-three years old, and while I’ve never actually attempted suicide, I can honestly say that it is something that has gone through my mind more than once during my time on this planet. These thoughts are not something that people are prepared for. Not to discount the ladies, but I think it is harder for men. All our lives we’re raised to be tough, manly, and unexpressive about our feelings; as such, we don’t know how to process them when they happen.
It’s especially harder on gay men, and youth. Depending on your upbringing, you may have been told nothing one way or another about homosexuals. You may have been raised to respect all people, no matter who they are, since we all have our own struggles, we don’t need to make it worse on others. The flip side of that coin, is that you may have been raised to think that being gay is a sin, evil, an abomination, and that you’re going to hell simply because of who you are, and who you love. As gay men, not only are we raised with one of these mentalities, our parents have no idea what we had to struggle through growing up. Always having to change pronouns, or not looking at someone for too long for fear they might realize that we were checking them out.
At least in my experience, there was no way to prepare to be the gay man I am today. The struggle was real, and it ate me alive more than I ever would admit out loud or even to myself in private. I just didn’t have the strength to stand up for myself against the world at the time. I still feel like that on occasion. Our hearts get broken, and it is so intense, and so painful that we just can’t process it. Some people stress eat, others cut or self harm, but we’re all just trying to bury, bleed, or avoid the pain because it is just too intense for us to comprehend that it will ever pass. Let me assure you that it does.
Late last year, a relationship formed that was so fast, and so intense, that it surprised me that such a thing could still happen to me at my age. However, the relationship ended, and I was left as heartbroken as I’d been in years. Even having gone through heartache before, I was still unprepared for such things. I’m not one to cry, and could count on one hand the number of times I have since this century began, and still have a finger left over. Crying is another thing that as boys/men, we’re taught not to do. I think it’s drilled into us that it’s a sign of weakness, and shouldn’t be done. I know in my head that isn’t true, but it’s still not something I allow myself to do. I literally don’t know how. Certain things may bring a tear to my eye, but that’s about it. We need to work on that as individuals, as well as a community.
When that relationship ended, it left a void in my heart, and made me question my worth. I didn’t see my place in the world, and for a brief time, I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore. Since I’m here and typing this, obviously those feelings passed. Heartbreak is all encompassing when it’s fresh. Our parents/guardians know from their own experiences, but since so few of us are raised in same-sex households, there’s only so much they are able to draw from to try and get us through it. As homosexuals, we’re the target of hatred and inequality. We can get beaten up by those who think we’re inferior. That’s not something those before us had to really deal with.
As homos, when we lose someone that was once close to us, we aren’t raised with a “there’s plenty of fish in the sea” mentality. The heteros outnumber us quite a bit. As far as we’re concerned, we may never find another person to love us again. The thought of that sort of existence is depressing to say the least. Couple that with a family that may have thrown you out for being gay, and one could see where it may be easier to just end it all, rather than fighting through the world as it currently is. I’ve lost two different friends to suicide since 2001. In their obituaries, each of their families downplayed their sexuality, if it was even mentioned at all. That sort of action made me sick to my stomach. I know that no matter how I leave this world, my friends/family would make sure I wasn’t homogenized into some watered down, straight-friendly version of myself. Despite having that sort of love and support, which was forged over the years, hell, even having lost friends to suicide, it still didn’t stop the suicidal thoughts from creeping in. I don’t know for certain if there’s ever anything that truly would. Granted, they only surface after I’ve been dealt a particularly rough emotional blow. Currently all I can do is acknowledge the feeling, and focus on the positive things that I have in my life.
There are some that say that suicide is selfish, or cowardly. As someone who has had those thoughts before, and may again, I’ll agree to a point. In a sense, it is selfish, because you’re out of pain, but you’ve left a world of it behind for everyone else. People love you, and would miss you if you were gone. That, more than anything, is something that we need to remember, and repeat. PEOPLE LOVE YOU, AND WOULD MISS YOU IF YOU WERE GONE. It’s easy to look back, as a stronger person, and see how things used to be. Something that devastated you weeks/months/years ago, may not even cross your mind in the here and now. You aren’t selfish or a coward to not want to be in pain.
We as a community have suffered in silence for too long, and we need to learn how to be open and expressive about our feelings. If you don’t think that your friends or family would be able to understand, there are still resources are available. The Trevor Project is specifically set up to help with struggling LGBT youth; their number is 866-488-7386. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255. Don’t let things get so bad that you want to extinguish your light. You are beautiful, and the world is, and will be, a better place because you’re in it. Pain is temporary, but death is forever, so don’t make a permanent decision based on a temporary feeling. All my love to you and yours. Stay strong!