Friday, December 19, 2014

The Joys and the Dangers Untold: Suicide & the Holidays

In 2011, I lost a close friend to suicide due to relentless online attacks that were thoughtless, hateful and unwarranted. The target of the attacks wasn’t my friend but me, and it became very personal and caused much stress for myself and those close to me for a very long time. I never knew how personally some of those around me took these attacks until it was too late.

I’ve written about these attacks on many previous occasions. Although these hateful activities began in 2002, the first time I spoke publicly about them was May 2007 . I didn’t say anything more about these matters publicly until October and November 2009. More recently, I’ve been blogging about these problems and related issues at Read Indies. My posts on these matters include:

Unethical Competitors, January 2013
Authors Who Trash Competitors, March 2013

Authors Who Are Trolls, September 2013

Whoever said time heals all wounds was wrong. Absolutely wrong. It’s only now some three years later that I can look back and let myself truly mourn the loss. But the wound created by the loss? It’ll never be gone. Such a tragedy should never have happened—and those responsible are still at large, likely seeking other targets to harass and terrorize simply because they believe they can get away with it without consequences. 

This wasn’t the first friend I’d lost to suicide. I’d lost another years before. She’d taken her own life on Christmas Eve. You’d think that it couldn’t be possible for anyone to kill themselves during such a joyous occasion or the holidays in particular, but you might be surprised to know that instead of declining during the holidays suicides actually spike.

The holidays are a joyous time but they can also be a stressful, strenuous time. Losing someone close to you to suicide is something you never get over. You wonder what you could have or should have done. You wonder if the pain of loss will ever go away. Take it from someone who has searched and searched for the answers, I don’t think the pain ever really goes away because I still feel it as acutely as I did before.

Some suicides I think are utterly avoidable, especially those related to online attacks. The online world makes it all too easy for bullies, trolls and other hateful persons to make anonymous attacks on anyone for any reason or none at all. But all it takes to stamp out hate is kindness, compassion, consideration.

Show kindness for any reason or no reason at all. Show compassion simply because you can. Show consideration because it reveals the truth of your humanity. For those who can’t manage kindness, compassion or consideration, at the least try to show empathy. A little empathy and common courtesy go a long, long way. They really, really do.

This holiday and every day, make sure those around you know what’s in your heart. Don’t be afraid to share and care. Don’t be afraid to give and receive. And don’t ever forget that during any occasion, joyful or sorrowful, holiday or not, there may be those around you who are so torn up inside with pain and hurt that suicide seems the only way out. For them, your simple act of kindness, consideration or compassion might be what gets them through the dark hours of the longest night of their lives.

Thank you for reading,

Robert Stanek