I told my dad after we saw True Grit together (the Coen brothers version & in theaters) that I would avenge him if someone ever killed him. And he laughed a little and was like, “Okay!”
So now that dad has died and it doesn’t feel at all natural or “well-timed,” I wonder sometimes how exactly I’m supposed to do the avenging. I don’t really feel very “avengey” towards suicide itself. It’s very personal and, by the time you’re trying to prevent someone from taking their own life, you’re in a total state of emergency. I do feel more passionate, however, about preventive mental health care, especially for men around my father’s age. (White males accounted for 70% of all suicides in 2013.)
So I want to be preachy but I don’t. I want to say: understand the mental health history in your family. Talk to people around you. If you feel at risk, make sure you have a strong network of health care providers–access to good therapists, people who know their mental health shit, and a solid GP who understands mental health issues. Be educated. Read. Talk to people. Don’t be afraid of it. Don’t dismiss it. People kill themselves and you can’t always stop it. But you can do a whole lot to cushion against that risk.
It feels obnoxious, but I did it anyway. I don’t know how to avenge dad. But this is my blundered and heartfelt attempt.
Here are also a few resources I found inspiring over the past few years:
–this article from WBUR on suicide prevention for men, which led me to this organization’s site as well as the the delightful “man therapy” website
-and of course, this, from sassy gay friend
-I also read about this service, mostly targeted to teens, this year.
-I always feel pretty wound up when I read this and the follow-on, but it’s very good.
And you can always call me if you need to, and you can probably call a lot of other people who love you very much, if you do feel that emergency hit. Don’t even think twice about it.