In a recent popular vote, the Swiss people decided against passing from four mandatory weeks of holidays per year to six. Everywhere in the world, the white cross on a red background is a symbol of hard work, reliability, efficiency, and professionalism.
Switzerland has been successfully flipping off its neighbors, by sticking with its own currency and only contracting bilateral agreements when it wants to, on its own terms. A luxury that not many countries on this side of the ocean can afford.
It also happens to be the country with the highest suicide rate in western Europe. In 2007 alone, more than 1360 men and women decided to end their life. Around 25% of those suicides were committed using firearms, a remarkably high figure on the old continent.
Unsurprisingly, nobody on the little white island seems particularly eager to share this with you.
As an active contributor of /r/SuicideWatch from 2008 to 2011, and human who visited several friends in hospitals or mental institutions, I feel entitled to talk about this subject.
If I have learned anything in these past five years, it’s this: suicide is silent. Attention-seeking is a sign of life! Drama is okay! Anything that carries you on to the next day is fine in my book.
Suicide is not an impulse. It’s a long process, an infection that develops in your mind. You never really get rid of it, you just learn to work around it. It’s a day-to-day combat. There is no cure for suicide, only treatment.
In the same way that drowning doesn’t look like drowning, suicidal people don’t look suicidal. Popular culture is notoriously bad at depicting either.
Smoke and mirrors
No direct causes have been established that reliably allow to predict suicidal tendencies. Suicide does not happen overnight. It appears into one’s mind as a potential ultimate solution.
The loss of a loved one, of a job, debt, harassment, physical disease can all provoke suicidal thoughts. Sometimes, none of that is needed. Depression alone can foster such inclinations, without anyone being able to come up with a reason.
As depression develops, self-confidence fades away, and psychological isolation prevents you from trying to seek help elsewhere. A different thought system emerges: others could not understand. How many times have these word come out of a teenager’s mouth or keyboard?
Attention-seeking is actually a good sign. Drama is great! It’s great because it’s a sign of life. That perhaps someone is looking for help, or simply trying to feel alive. Cutting is not healthy nor sanitary, but when you are deep into depression, doubting your own existence, it is a common resort to wake up.
I do not encourage self-hurt at all, but it is a fantastic indicator and should not be under-valued. Not everyone has that chance. Completely silent suicides occur as well, fully grown inside a diseased and helpless mind. Physical wounds can be healed pretty well, but once someone has ended their existence, it’s too late to do anything about it.
The last stage of suicidal tendencies is the sneakiest. When someone has decided that they are going to end it, they enter a phase of peacefulness. They have finally something to look forward to. They plan the mean, the date. They exercise.
They’ll try to put their life in order. To resolve conflicts, ask for forgiveness. To thank people for what they’ve done, and being who they are. To see some people one last time. From the outside, it looks like they’re living again! Like they’ve snapped out of it.
Life is brutal. Everyone is lying. Being tagged as suicidal brings you through a world of shit, especially in Switzerland where it is so instutitionalized. Would you give a job to a suicidal person? Grant a loan? Let them drive your kids to school? …exactly.
The road is long and it is tough. The only choice left is to lie your way through the years, and only confide yourself whenever you find someone that you can trust enough not to stab you in the back. And these people are not always easy to find.
Suicide is everywhere, it’s in your neighborhood, at your office, in your family. Hiding the problem is only making it worse. Please pay attention to the people around you: try to understand what they are going through, don’t take over their life, but just be there for them.
Suicide is contagious. Living for years with someone going through depressive phases can and will get to you. Protect yourself before doing anything else. When things just go over your head, seek professional help. Call a suicide hotline. Find a support group.
I like to make people feel uncomfortable. Getting to really know someone includes discussing suicide, sexuality, and other subjects. Because for me, they are the quickest way to know what someone is made of.
Between someone who always had it easy, and someone who is struggling every single day, who is the strongest? Between someone too dumb to question anything around them, and someone who is at loss for answers but decides daily to just carry on any way they can, who is the most alive?
People who came back from the dark side (to varying degrees) truly know the value of life. The same goes for alcohol, drugs, or any addiction: it takes more guts to quit than to never start. Playing with death is a life experience: it gives an additional dimension to your days.
Who the fuck cares about whatever just happened? I’m alive, and you are too! It’s a wonderful day to do anything at all.
Choose life. Then live the fuck out of it.