"If he talks one minute longer, I'm putting a bullet through my head."
"This song makes me want to suck on an exhaust pipe."
"Pardon me, I'm going to find a window that opens."
"I coulda killed myself."
"Makes me want to die."
It's funny....until it becomes a reality. Then all of a sudden it is an unimaginable tragedy. The loss of life is always sad. The loss of a young life, a loved one, ripped away by from you by that same loved one's own hand, the knowledge that you weren't enough to keep them here....well it's something beyond words.
It leaves you scarred forever. Those same silly references that everyone makes, that even you yourself have made, take on a whole new meaning. Putting a finger to a temple and pulling an imaginary trigger. Grasping an imaginary rope above a head, cocking that head to the side. "Traffic was so slow today I nearly slit my wrists." They are everywhere. I challenge you to go a week, even a day, without hearing or seeing a joking suicide reference.
I pretend to laugh, while inside I wince. Sometimes I even see the humor, a little bit, but inside I remember horror, police, funeral, ashes, sorting through belongings, leftover bullets, shattered dreams, a thousand different individual hurts. But I smile, I shake my head, and I tell the memories to wait, there is nothing they can do. Because what am I going to do, educate the world? Change the whole way that humor works? Of course not. It is too ingrained in our conversational style.
It is who we are as a people. We joke about tragedy, all forms. Maybe it gets us through life, makes facing the unbearable just a little bit easier. Unfortunately those of us who have been personally and horribly affected by whatever tragedy is being joked about just have to grit our teeth and deal with it.
My work neighbor is going through girl problems. Each day is different, whether or not he wants to be with her, never see her again, marry her, etc. He's been obsessing, talking to me, talking to half the people in the office, hashing out his troubles. He jokes graphically about suicide constantly. It's just his way of talking. It's just his way of blowing off steam, relieving and expressing stress. He'll be quick to assure us that he's not serious, but the next day he'll ask me if he can borrow a pistol. I know that he doesn't really mean anything (and I've made fairly certain), but each joke hurts me a little more.
Finally this evening after everyone was mostly gone, I asked him to come into my cubicle. I showed him a photo I have of S, and told him a sentence of two of my story. Enough to have him looking horrified and stuttering apology after apology. I tried my best to reassure him that it was okay, not to apologize, that I just wanted him to understand something about me, so maybe he'd realize what impact his words might have.
I don't know if it will make a difference or not, but hopefully it will, at least a little bit. I feel a little better, anyway.