I’ve never tried to kill myself. I’ve suffered from depression and I used to self-harm, but I guess that’s true of a lot of people. I also didn’t know games journalist Matt Hughes, who sadly died this week, even slightly. I barely even recognised the name. I had to check who he wrote for. Seems he was a talented guy, not that that makes a difference.
When people commit suicide, people’s response is generally to gasp at how there were no warning signs, that it doesn’t make sense, that the person always seemed so happy. “He was full of life,” people say. “It’s just so out of character.”
When people kill themselves, they’re not doing so out of character. They do it because they’ve exhausted every other option they can possibly comprehend, and things have become so overwhelming that putting a stop to everything now is the only sensible option, for everyone’s sake.
You could say that the main symptom of depression is a feeling of remarkable sadness, but it’s more than that. It’s a feeling of isolation. A feeling of self-loathing. A sense that you’ll never have the ability to separate yourself from the ills of the world, and as such will never be able to construct a coping mechanism or reason yourself out of a low mood with logic.
And it’s a feeling that you’re all alone in this world; those healthy, happy masses go about their daily lives with barely a stumble, while every single split-second of your own life is a hammer-blow to the head. Those people don’t care. Why should they? If they cared, and let themselves into your mind, they’d be depressed too.
The truth is, nobody really takes the time to think about what goes on in the minds of others. Not really. We all have our own lives to lead, and that’s difficult enough as it is. But I like to think that, as people, as the human race, we do care. Even just a little bit.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m mostly okay now, aside from the occasional off-day. I put a lot of that down to my re-discovery of writing, and my decision to apply myself to a goal. But I also put a lot of it down to the fact that I had people who really took the time to understand how I was feeling.
When was the last time you asked somebody if they were okay and really meant it? We say it trivially every time we meet someone, and the correct response is, “I’m fine, thanks. How are you?” You must not deviate from the script. To do so is social suicide. If you’ll excuse the metaphor.
But really, we’re all human, and we all get sad sometimes, and we all ultimately care when we find out that other people are suffering. So the next time you see your friend, ask them if they’re okay. Really ask it, and push them for a real answer. They’re probably fine. But it might just turn out that your friend needs an ear, and they’ll be grateful for that question for the rest of their life.
And if they think you’re being weird, or take the mick out of you, then they’re a cunt.