The Contagion Effect:
Remember that moment in The Truman Show when Jim Carrey’s boat pierced the “sky”? In an instant, everything he thought was real and possible was disproven. Suddenly, possibilities were endless. What he never considered were options—going outside his bubble, seeing the world in a different way—became his new reality.
That’s what it’s like to experience suicide. Suddenly, the option of death becomes part of your reality, part of your vocabulary. It becomes tangible, something that’s *almost* acceptable.
Ever heard of a father committing suicide and years later his child?
That’s ’cause the contagion effect is real.
Definition of Contagion Effect: Refers to the propensity for certain behavior exhibited by one person to be copied by others.
Before my sister died, I never ONCE considered killing myself. I might have been terribly upset about something as any person feels at times, but dying? That was never a possibility. That was never something I wanted. And then, as abruptly as my reality changed, so did my options.
Suicide is on the forefront of your mind, a go-to, an easy out…to end the unrelenting pain you are feeling.
“I can’t do this. I’m so depressed. What if I just die?”
You entertain it, because now it’s familiar.
You also start approaching life differently. She did it, so could I.
For me, I held back because I knew the insurmountable pain felt by those left behind after the loss of yet another daughter and sister would destroy them.
So you hold back, you keep grinding away to make sense of the world, you talk and cry and write and you shove that option further and further away from you. Because though it’s a possibility, it’s not something you should do. But it’s there. The curtain was been lifted as they say, and while you promise, I’d never, it’s still there, in your back pocket, a go-to when things get really rough, but as just a thought, as a consideration, something you can imagine realistically, because you know exactly how it plays out, how it destroys, but something you’d never do.
So while knowledge is empowering, in this case, it’s something no one should know.
Because when we do, we, unconsciously, unintentionally, give it exposure and life, which consequentially leads to more heartbreak and death.
It’s a word that we never should intimately know.
After my sister killed herself, death was constantly on my mind. I rarely admitted or discussed it. It’s a unspoken, secret language amongst those suffering. It took me two years of floundering to lift myself from that darkness. And so now, with incredible clarity and happiness, I feel it is my duty to be a voice to something many don’t want to discuss. Only when we actually talk about things will they change.
If you or someone you know is suicidal, please get support. Chat confidentially online at the Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 800.273.8255.