I recently watched 21 & Over. It was a decent comedy, filled with plenty of college humor and cliche jokes, and a few well-placed lines that actually gave me a good laugh. I’d recommend it if you and your friends are sitting around with nothing to do on a Friday night. But I recommend it more than just because it made me laugh. Unexpectedly, it made me think. (WARNING: If you plan to watch this movie and care deeply about the story, there are spoilers to follow. If you’d like to watch it, I’ve linked to it above.)
Towards the end of the movie, Casey and Miller are sitting outside of the health ward Jeff Chang is being cared for in. They have just learned that the reason Jeff Chang had a gun on him and was arrested years before is because he is suicidal. Casey and Miller talk to each other about how horrible of friends they have become that Jeff Chang, their own best friend, felt that he couldn’t even call one of them to talk to about his stress in school and pressure from his family. And that is what got me thinking…
Suicide is not an individual effort. It is not something someone arrives at on their own (except for very rare and unique circumstances). When someone commits suicide, it is the culmination of the people around them failing to help.
We do not have the right to say that the individual who took his or her own life did so because they were not strong enough. We are not at liberty to blame tragedies such as sandy Hook on video games, when the person who ended the shooting by taking his own life was, as it would seem, addicted to the most innocent of games imaginable. We do not get to assign blame to anyone else but to those who have failed the ones who have committed suicide.
Yes, I would still say that suicide is the result of a lack of strength and commitment, but those flaws are found in the friends and family who neglected the signs they saw, or even worse, drove them to commit that fateful act.
We cannot look at those who have committed suicide and try to evaluate their personal lives, asking ourselves “Where did they go wrong?” We need to look at the people around them and see why no one did anything.
Everyone experiences stress in life. Everyone has lows that they feel they will never escape. But most people have support to turn to in their time of need. These people do not. At least not enough. They did not have family they felt they could fall back on, friends they thought they could call. It is improbable that absolutely no one saw the signs. That mean someone turned a blind eye, and that is not okay.
So what is the point I am trying to make? Be friends with people, not “friends.” Actually support one another. Talk to the people in your life more than just when you need them. Don’t dismiss signs simply because you don’t want to face the reality of the situation, or because you are uncomfortable. What they are going through is much worse than asking a question.