Sunday, February 17, 2013

On the Suicide of Mindy McCready

I hadn't really planned on posting tonight.  But when it comes to suicide, the only one planning on it is the one that's gone.

As morbid proof of that very fact, one of the first news reports I saw tonight stated:

"There is cause to find that there is clear and convincing evidence that Respondent is in imminent danger of harm to herself or others, suicidal or gravely disabled....
...But just a day later McCready was released to undergo outpatient treatment instead."
-Chicago Tribune 

Every day in this world, there are psychiatrists and nurses and therapists charged with the burden of determining whether someone "means it."  Whether they're just looking for attention, or whether a secret plan lies behind their eyes.

I guarantee you that no one likes having to be that person.  I have BEEN that person, and let me tell you, the weight of the whole world is on your shoulders for that judgment call.

And sometimes people get it wrong.  Really wrong.

Sometimes the best actors are the people who are dead serious.  Who have already decided, and who know what to tell the people in charge of those decisions.

Should I have been released by the crisis counselors in Nashville when I had a 3-fold plan, and had already started carrying out half the damn thing?  I should think not.  But I was.

Would I have said anything it took in order to avoid being locked up?  I would, and I did.

And so I was driven by a police officer back to my hotel, where my luggage containing a dozen pill bottles and a shard of glass remained, the day after sending suicide notes to two people.

I put someone in the godawful position of gambling with my life.  Thankfully they were right, and I was wrong.

So tonight is just a reminder that every suicide I hear about for the rest of my life will take me back to that place, and that week, and the people who made me feel that I was nothing to nobody.

And tonight is also a reminder that EVERYbody is somebody to someone.  Everyone who dies by suicide is someone's best friend, or mother, or colleague, or son.

Sometimes it's somebody "special," like a celebrity.  But to those left behind, it doesn't matter if you had a million fans...or just one.

I remember cleaning the house on Saturday mornings as a teenager, belting out "Have a Nice Day," my all-time favorite song of Mindy's.

Now I read the words to another of her songs, so devastating in light of today's news:

"I'm still hereThere was darkness, all around meThere were times I was sure I was drowningThere were people, who tried to reach meBut no matter how they loved me, I kept sinkingI got tired of my own hell, I reached inside and I saved myself"

Many of us will fight the battle.  Some will lose.

Some will never find the love, the hope, or the strength to keep a self-destructive mind at bay.

And it doesn't matter if you're a famous blond with a beautiful voice....or a random person milling about the streets of any town.

At the end of the day, we are left with our thoughts, and our pasts, and our traumas that are ours alone to deal with.

And the truth is, until you've walked in someone's shoes, you could never possibly know the kind of pain that would push someone to that choice.

The truth is, if we all had a little more compassion - and a little less judgment - for those among us who are fading before our very eyes, we might possibly end up being the one who made all the difference.

So take a look around you at the people in your life that are still here.  Who you're ignoring.  Or neglecting.  Who you see struggling and never know what to say, so you stop speaking to.  Who are putting on a happy face for you because they know you cannot tolerate their real feelings.

You don't need.  To say.  Anything.  
You don't need.  To have.  Any answers.

"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.  The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares."  
~Henri Nouwen