This past week two American cultural stars took their own lives. Hundreds of articles have been written and opinions offered through social media on these shocking and sudden deaths. Recent research found that there has been a dramatic increase in suicides over the past twenty years in the US. The attention of these suicides in social media undeniable.
What is it that has provoked these events? What explains the increase in suicide? Is it worsening social conditions and/or have the mores changed enough since I was young to let the unthinkable become both thinkable and doable?
In Canada, as in the US, we were also deeply affected by the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. Borders don’t protect us. The sibling nature of our relationship in addition to the effects of globalization and social media creates a homogeneous cultural container for the likes of these icons.
From my view, all beings are precious and we are connected and respons-able to and for each other. That we are more able to make this choice to end our own lives and act on it successfully is disturbing. This morning I have this nagging sensation that our social connections are becoming thinner and this has fed into (do I dare to call it) a trend?
How safe is the safety net?
Those of us who suffer from mental illnesses and psychological issues, or, in plain speak, just dark periods, don’t always know where to turn when it gets really bad. A beloved elder in my own circle reached out to me one day last summer saying that she was suicidal. This gave me the opportunity to show her my care and get her more help than I could provide. I’m grateful that she could do that. It was a blessing and one that cannot be assumed. It seems that the longer we live, the more excluded we become. Like most people her age, she suffers from a myriad of interconnected ailments and regrets. Notably, her social circle has contracted leaving her with fewer opportunities to share these. Mind you, her upbringing didn’t encourage the airing of “personal” concerns.
How do you show up for your communities? How do you show others that you welcome their calls for assistance? How do you make others feel in your life? Are they comfortable being with you? None of us can control how others feel. I do believe, though, that together in and through our relationships we create a safety net. It’s through belonging. And caring and living through life events that we create relations. This adherence, this bonding is what deepens relationship. Together, our relations create a safety net.
It’s not enough to have transparent relations; we need deep relations based on lived experience to stand the test of time. Our families, organizations and communities of all kinds call out for enriching experiences to deepen our connections. To be inclusive is to belong in all of these communities. Learning to show up for each other is a skill that you apply to all types of relationships.
Today I am going to carefully watch how I show up for others.