• Nick Hartkop

July 19th, 2021

Trigger Warning: Suicide is discussed in this post.

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I go to the movies because it makes me feel safe. I like to sit in the top right corner of the theater, the seat closest to the aisle. It's relaxing because I can see the entire auditorium, which eases my paranoia of someone coming after me to hurt me. Today I went and saw the Anthony Bourdain documentary, Roadrunner. I didn't know much about him before I watched the film, but I'm glad I went.


As someone who has struggled with suicide and overdosing, seeing the things he would say and do leading up to the end of his life were hard to watch, because he was hurting and needed some meaningful help, but he also didn't help himself which makes me sad for him.


There is a scene where he is putting up a sail on a boat with his friend and he says, "At least we know it'll hold my weight". His friend asks, "For what?" Anthony replies, "For when I hang myself."

When he says it, he does this little laugh and looks away while everyone is uneasy because he is trying to use shock humor to mask how he was feeling and actual thoughts going through his mind. It's really awful. When I was in 7th grade, I started struggling with suicidal thoughts and being obsessive about death and started using that same kind of humor. When I got my first cellphone, it could have a message that popped up when you powered on, and I made mine say "End it all". That was a joke I would frequently make with my friends because me committing suicide was a running joke I had created because I wanted to use edgy humor to mask the feeling of truly wanting to kill myself. I have this vivid memory of standing against my wall, my shirt off, with scissors against my chest and gathering the courage to jam myself against them.


My mother had found the phone and grounded me for the message, saying it was "weird and disturbing." I agree with her, and if I would have found those messages I would have been there for my child who was suffering mentally. My home didn't believe in mental illness and would shame it. My dad would say things like, "If you are really crazy we will send you to the doctor who will send you to an all boys home." which of course scared me. So I just kept it to myself. But I still remember that feeling of a million stones on my chest and that feeling of falling you constantly have, like there's no way for you to lift the weight.

Suicide, in a way, made me feel like I had control over my life. Like it was on my terms, my way, when I say so. It stemmed from my control issues and the need to have total dictatorship over everything that happened to me. But the way I feel about suicide is the opposite. Suicide is not romantic, its terrifying. It feels like such a waste. I fear the afterlife is what my mom said it was, all fire and brimstone, and that's a lot worse off than my life now.

I think it's important that every person realizes there is only one "them" in the history of forever. I know it is cliched but how you think, what you feel, your hopes and dreams, those are all unique to you and only you. I think that should be celebrated. We all are going to die someday. You reading this will die, as I who am writing this will die. I used to only focus on that, and miss the stuff in between. Death is inevitable, and happiness is hard to find. It takes a lot of effort to focus on the good sometimes but life is a blessing and people are happy you are here. It's like winning and losing the lottery when we are born. The human experience and earth is cool. It's such a weird impossible thing, and to be able to be here is incredible. I want to feel happy to be here, and worthy of love and acceptance. I think all humans want that ultimately.

When I first started treatment, I struggled with how misogynistic my humor and language was. I was so insecure and angry over my sexuality that I projected that into "dark humor" that in reality was an excuse to get away with saying hurtful things that were in no way funny. At the time, I thought they were funny, but no one else did. My skin crawls when I think about the humor and anger I had in my youth and past. I needed to be ashamed of it in order to recognize it, and now I feel disgusted about it. It made me feel regret that was hard to overcome. I am thankful for the education I have, but I felt like I shouldn't have needed it. There's no excuse for it. I was so sickened by it that I was constantly saying I "wanted to die."


I used to threaten suicide as a way to control people when I was scared. In my past, I had become accustomed to creating and burning bridges impulsively and permanently, so I figured I would have that same relationship with life, and die suddenly in a wave of mania. In reality I was a coward and selfish. I won't be killing myself. I tried and regretted it, and am lucky I was able to get taken to the hospital by the police.


Anthony Bourdain made the wrong choice. He lost a lot in his life, but he had so much waiting for him. He had a daughter who was 8 years old and who will never see or hear their father again. He had a fanbase that he left behind. His friends in the film are all permanently scarred by it. It was his friends who found him. It was selfish. He had too much to offer. Even with being mentally ill, he deserves more than that from himself. Suicide is like killing a flower, but not thinking about its roots. There are so many ripples in the water and people affected.


In the moment, life can feel like too much, but moments later we can experience happiness. We can't do that if we are gone. You don't get a do over, and I think even at our lowest, fighting to be here is the right choice. If you are struggling, don't leave. People are glad you are here.


If you have thoughts of suicide or need someone to talk to contact:

Lifeline (suicidepreventionlifeline.org)

Their phone number is: 1-800-273-8255


They also have a live chat you can use.

Lifeline Chat : Lifeline (suicidepreventionlifeline.org)

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