‘Tis the time

“So, I’ve decided to pack up and leave. I’m leaving for Mars.”

That’s what he said. But that’s not what he meant. This was no mission to Mars. Sadly, it was suicide.

What puzzles me is that he comes across as energetic and happy in the video he shared on his social media account where he talks about leaving. It immediately made me think of those lines we say or hear, “He/She seemed fine. I can’t believe this.” I have said the same when someone I knew committed suicide.

I think it’s time we believe. And I think it’s time we realise the inner battles many people are facing. Perhaps they are so adept at putting up facades because that’s the societal expectation. It’s time for those facades to fall. And it’s time we opened up more spaces to talk about suicide. It’s an uncomfortable conversation that needs to move to the dinner table and places of worship.

We do not talk enough. And we do not talk to genuinely understand each other. I have friends who will greet me and ask me how I am. And then ask me again if I am seriously fine; if I am coping with all life throws at me. It makes a huge difference and shows that they care. I try to be that person to others too. We may never know what difficulties someone is going through but the simple act of reaching out is likely to make them feel better.

Because, let’s face it, this world is sometimes a harsh place and often, people are harsh towards each other. This tends to be amplified during the year-end period in which we find ourselves in right now.

‘Tis the season to be jolly but not everyone is. Not everyone who smiles is truly happy. And even amongst a crowd, people can feel very lonely. The pressure to go out – be it with family or friends – can prove to be overwhelming, almost suffocating.

It’s also a time when people assess how much or how little others have achieved over the past year. This could lead to feelings of inadequacies and disappointment. It’s no surprise that the SA Depression and Anxiety Group – SADAG – experiences an influx of suicide-related calls during this time. In September, SADAG revealed that from January this year, it had received almost 42 000 calls on its suicide helpline.

The youngest suicide case was a six-year-old.

That’s reason enough for us all to be more sensitive and less judgemental; to be more supportive and less critical and to focus on the positives instead of dwelling on the negatives… ‘Tis the time…

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