I was recently informed about this very sad, very moving and very informational video concerning the suicide of a prominent NFL hero, a man named Junior Seau. In the video Marcellus Wiley, a former teammate to Seau, is reacting to the loss of his friend in a raw, beautiful and poignant reflection of some of the last times they spent together. Yet unwittingly in his grief he is reflecting the fear surrounding suicide as so many of us do by denying and rejecting the warning signs when they appear.
About 3 minutes into the interview Mr. Wiley speaks to a previous suicide attempt by his friend in 2010, a time when Seau drove his SUV off a cliff. In the interview Mr. Wiley states that when he contacted Seau after the “accident” he begged him to tell him that he just fell asleep, “tell me, man, please tell me you just fell asleep at the wheel”. As raw and real as this plea is, it is also unfortunately completely the opposite of what a suicidal person needs.
Someone contemplating suicide does not need enabling, denial, avoidance. What they need is brutal confrontation, truth. I wonder what might have been different if instead he had said, “Man, suicide is no answer. Thanks for almost ripping my heart out. In no way will I let this slide by. We’re going to get help and get it right now” or something along those lines.
I know that most people fear suicide. They worry that if you talk to the “fragile” person about it you might make it worse or trigger their successful attempt and nobody wants to be the trigger, the last person who spoke to the troubled one. But in all reality the exact opposite is true. A suicide attempt is a bright white hot spotlight call for help. The person is screaming for attention, to be told how much pain and suffering would be felt by their death, to treat death as the enemy and to gather forces to rally around the pain or hopelessness that the suffering person is experiencing.
Suicide is never an option. It only leaves pain and destruction, guilt and sadness behind. It also unfortunately creates a legacy of future suicide. When suicide is a part of any family story, it kind of opens the door of acceptance for future generations by de-stigmatizing it just enough to make it less fearful, mildly more acceptable. This is not a legacy we want to leave behind. Therefore rule #1 in dealing with suicide is to face it head on, to confront it and to evict it as an option.
In the interview, Mr. Wiley goes on and reveals how, in hindsight, maybe his friend did have warning signs. But he didn’t see them as warning signs, at least not back then. Maybe Mr. Seau’s tragic loss will bring a thread of learning and hope for others.
Suicide ALWAYS has warning signs. And there is ALWAYS help.
National Suicide Hotlines USA
Toll-Free / 24 hours a day / 7 days a week
Deaf Hotline 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)