I’m not really keeping my brother’s suicide a secret. When people have asked how he passed, I tell them. I won’t necessarily tell them that he jumped off the most beautiful bridge in the world immediately, but I do tell them that it was self-inflicted. There’s too much stigma and secrecy around mental health, depression, and suicide, particularly in the Asian community. I’m completely fed up with it and want it to stop NOW. Anyone who cannot accept that these things exist, are important, and need attention and treatment should probably not be permitted to ever procreate… or in my own humble opinion, breathe.
For the most part, almost everyone in my life has been sympathetic and understanding about this. The few responses I have received, though, that tried to be sympathetic ended up falling quite flat because they were insensitive. One person asked, “Were you aware that he was facing these issues?” in a tone of voice that would imply that I did not do enough. No kidding I was aware, you moron. I’m his sister who actually spent time with him, communicated with him way more often than you ever tried to, and is in massive pain now – a type of pain that I wish NO ONE can relate to. The last thing I really need is anyone trying to imply that my family and I did not do enough, particularly when these people had barely given my brother a minute of their day in the last six months. You have regrets about not speaking to him as often? Good – then you will feel maybe one one-millionth of the pain I feel then.
Another long-time friend of mine, who I’ve never found to be particularly mature or empathetic, responded to his passing (and particularly the cause of death) as though it was like I just lost a job or failed an exam in school. Then she changed the subject. A word of advice to anyone who is trying to be a comfort for their loved one when she has lost her sibling to suicide: losing a life is not just an “I’m sorry” moment with a frown on your face. It’s a “I-need-to-do-everything-I-am-humanely-possible-to-be-there-for-this-person-and-show-I-give-a-damn.” And if you can’t do that, you are not a worthy friend.
It’s really true: in times of greatest obstacles and tragedy, you really learn who the people around you truly are. Sometimes, it really stinks to see how insensitive and shallow some people are, but in other cases, it’s amazing to feel so blessed to have certain people in my life.