Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Suicide, once-removed.

One of my best friends is upside-down because an old friend of hers committed suicide. She hasn't been close to him lately, but he was a best friend to her for years in high school. That happens. Life leads us around and we don’t stay friends with everyone, but that doesn't mean we don’t care for them. I know that I still carry people in my memories, especially through the nostalgia of youth. I can’t help look back and a lot of the silly things we did and still think of everyone fondly. We had a lot of fun, being dumb teenagers.

It's always tremendously sad when someone sees suicide as the only real option to ending their pain, but I guess lately it’s also something I understand, so my shock is dulled. Maybe part of the reason she and I are so saddened by it is because we understand so well. We understand what it is to want to end it all, and this is someone whose name we know, and who took that desire and realized it. It's so close to us.

It's also infuriating because this person was apparently the only thing keeping a non-profit community drop-in centre for children open. A lot of my friends in the social sector / non-profits work insanely hard and give everything they have, to be met with little to no support by the organizations and systems that employ them. I've seen too many people burn out. I see breakdowns and anxiety because these people are lovely and caring and want to help people, and they carry that burden to a point where it’s detrimental to their health.

People who work with/around mental health, sexual health, sex work, racial discrimination, outreach, youth, violence, poverty and in social support networks of all kinds are being taken for granted, and are risking their own health and wellness daily because it’s in their nature to care, and to support. This makes me really sad, and this makes me really angry.

When my friend worked with youth in the criminal justice system (technically youth corrections I guess, she worked in “youth and family centres”) she would tell me stories that made me sick to my stomach. Horror stories. How is it that she faced this daily, as a full-time job and wasn't mandated to go to counselling or therapy as part of her work process? Same thing with all sorts of high-risk, difficult jobs where you face abuse, violence and traumatic realities. How is it not part of the god-damn culture?

It makes no sense to me. This friend ended up on burn-out because of the trauma of having a kid she was working with commit suicide while she was working. She was then hassled by insurance company psychologists and had to constantly defend her right to be fucking traumatized.

I didn't know Jean-Pierre personally, my condolences to all who knew him.

My condolences to all of us, who suffer when good people die because our systems are broken.

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