Put the gun down

This site is about people. People doing incredible things, sometimes acting a fool, but mostly it’s just about observing the nature of us. I’m fascinated by people, and how and why we behave the way we do.

The site is modest, so far 1000+ subscribers, and we want to grow. But for a moment, let me write as I am talking to just you.

Put the gun down.

April 5 is the 25th anniversary of Kurt Cobian sitting down, injecting himself with heroin, and killing himself with a shotgun. He inflicted extraordinary pain on a wife, daughter, a band, a family, and millions of fans. Yet in that moment he probably wasn’t considering the pain he would inflict. Rather he thought he was doing everyone a favor.

In his note, he apologized to the fans for “faking” the passion for the music he once craved. He explained that his baby daughter would have a happier life without him. He was poetic and thoughtful.

But more than anything, in his note, he clearly wrestled with depression, with self-awareness. He even said that he had hated humans since the age of 7, that he didn’t understand empathy.

Truth is, he was just in pain. An enormous talent, suffering, maybe from little more than chemical imbalances in the brain. serotonin, dopamine….

Or maybe the problems were darker.

But what they weren’t was unique.

From 2016 – Volume 67, number 5, of the National Vital Statistic Report – 44,965 people died from self inflicted methods.

Suicide is #10 on the list of causes of death. Here are the stats.

All suicides

  • Number of deaths: 44,965
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 13.9
  • Cause of death rank: 10

Firearm suicides

  • Number of deaths: 22,938
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 7.1

Suffocation suicides

  • Number of deaths: 11,642
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 3.6

Poisoning suicides

  • Number of deaths: 6,698
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 2.1

In nearly every one of those suicides, the victim probably thought they were doing everyone else a favor. That the pain they were dealing with was less than the pain of their friends and family. That it was a tidy solution. You will be better off without me.

But for those left behind, we always know that is not true. The unbearable pain is forever, always lingering somewhere in the recesses of our souls. I have close friends who have had siblings take their own lives. People with families, kids, spouses. I have been called when an employee I worked with didn’t show up one day. She had hung herself. And there are others…

And we don’t really even need to mention celebrities – Bourdain, Williams, Spade, Hemmingway, Plath, Cornell, Monroe, Bennington, it just goes on and on. This Wikipedia link is so long, they have to do it by the alphabet, in sections.

44,000 in 2016. In 1994, Cobian was part of 31,000. The problem is getting WORSE.

Suicide touches everyone in some way. I am sure you, the individual reading this, just you, have known of someone who committed the act, or a person who is forever touched because someone they knew took their own life. There are not seven degrees of separation when it comes to suicide. It’s more like 2.

So what then? Well you, person reading this  – put the gun down. The one you have in your mind, or the one in your closet, or the one in your hand. Ending your life is a permanent decision and it does NOT make things better for those around you.

We would prefer to keep you around. The f-ed up, narcissistic, depressed, angry, wallowing you. We prefer that person to a memory. Any day.

Look around you today. See everyone else? All the pretty people on Instagram posting perfect vignettes of their awesome lives?

They are in pain too. Maybe not to the same degree, but trust me brother, they are in their own fight, grinding through.

See the people driving their cars? Walking to school? In the office?

All wrestling with the same thing.

That is not to diminish what you feel. Not to make light of your struggle, but rather reach out and say, yeah, me too.

We are self-aware amazing creatures, capable of extraordinary things. We have minds that let us create, build, dream, understand. We have the capacity to contemplate the very nature of our universe, and of life itself.

But with that powerful mind comes something else. Self awareness, and it’s in there, in that darker space, that we find the demons to fight.

All this means is we are warriors in the same army. Humans scurrying forward, trying to figure it all out. And like any army, we lose people. But it should never be at our own hands.

Put the gun down.

Reach out, find a fellow human and tell them what ails you. Say, “I’m hit. Medic.” And just as on a real battlefield, others will come. They will come. And reach out. And love.

And understand.

Put the gun down, Kurt.

1-800-273-8255   National Suicide Prevention Hotline