“Nothing in my life has ever made me want to commit suicide more than people’s reaction to my trying to commit suicide.” ― Emilie Autumn
The stigma surrounding mental illness contributes to the risk of suicide. As Goffman states, the stigmatized individual is asked to act so as to imply that their burden is not heavy; stigma makes every person their own jailer. This causes separation from society and the feeling of loneliness. As Mother Theresa said, “loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” Jules Verne said, “Solitude, isolation, are painful things and beyond human endurance.” Lastly, as Jean Vanier stated, “to be lonely is to feel unwanted and unloved, and therefore unlovable. Loneliness is a taste of death.”
In Why People Die By Suicide, Thomas Joiner argues that a sense of thwarted belonging, perceived burdensomeness, and a loss of hope causes suicidal ideation. Stigma is a mark of social exclusion, causing further harm to some of the most vulnerable members of society. No one would ever say that someone with diabetes is not a whole person, but people often imply that with mental illness. As Sonia Estrada states: “I had people saying ‘it’s all in your head’. Do you honestly think I want to feel this way?” People say, “just shake it off,” but mental illness is not like the Taylor Swift song; you can’t just “shake it off,” and it’s not just a phase.
Loneliness exacerbates mental illness; community facilitates mental health. A society that promotes mental health must first eliminate stigma. As Luke Richardson states: “We need to change the culture of this topic and make it OK to speak about mental health and suicide.” When the spirit of ‘Bell Lets Talk’ day becomes EVERY day, hopefully stigma will no longer alienate those with mental illness.
This post is based on a twitter-essay I composed for ‘Bell Lets Talk’ day.
It can be found on my page here: https://twitter.com/SteveRoseBlog