Tag Archives: suicide

Fulcrums of Decision

[Content warning: suicide]

I believe that just as risk is relative, so is life and death, and the rewards of each at any given time are weighed upon scales we fabricate in the moment, often without thought. Conscious and unconscious biases place the fulcrum, weight the scales, and a judgement is rendered. Then the cause happens, which leads to an effect.

Each of my and others’ effects adds to scale weights I carry, created throughout my life like sandstone. Layers upon layers of decision sediments have fallen like unceasing snowstorms and hardened to stones, guided by internal eddies and gusts of sentiment.

And then there’s suicide.

All the positive weight in the world doesn’t matter when the lever is long and the fulcrum is placed. Anthony Bourdain’s suicide, like Kate Spade’s, like Chris Cornell’s, like Robin Williams’, like Kurt Cobain’s, like the others who weren’t rich and famous who I’ve known of who have killed themselves, is another grain on my, ‘But you’re a survivor,’ weight.

I’ve had two abyssal moments in the past decade, both precipitated by staying stuck while trying to choose a path forward when I knew all paths would pass through excruciating emotional pain. In both instances, I reeled in panic, seeking to escape seemingly hopeless fates, until resignation restored me to a manageable despondent depression. It was only then that I recognized the life-ending placement of my decision fulcrum and was able to edge back from oblivion.

I’m better now, much better. Those two days are now like nightmares where the details continue to fade.

I’m also better and faster at spotting and redirecting the creeping suicidal thoughts, which plagued me in early adulthood and expressed themselves as driving way too fast, drinking way too much, taking stupid physical risks, and sometimes doing all in combination. Today I get out my survivor weight and it’s enough to help me decide to make better choices in my life.

Bourdain’s suicide hit me hard, even though I haven’t seen or read much of his work because it’s painfully clear he was also a survivor, and now he’s not. All the weight of everything good in his life to live for wasn’t enough to convince him in his moment of decision. His death hasn’t made me feel suicidal, but it has depressed me by way of realizing I’ve been in a form of stasis and avoiding risk for the past year.

For me, risk reminds me I’m alive. It’s the adrenaline exhilaration of hugging the boundary layer between life and death where it twines together in its infinite fractal beauty. It’s led me alone and with others up mountains and down into the sea, into boardrooms and bars, provided riches and poverty, and revealed to me the beauty and grotesqueness of the world and humanity while I gave and received love and hate, pleasure and pain, and creation and destruction.

Saying I almost killed myself twice feels like a risk. I think I risk being treated differently because of it but my reward is feeling more alive, and that feels like a good decision.

Mike Pence Supports Child Abuse Practices

Mike Pence is a Devil

Mike Pence supports child abuse.

Mike Pence must not be allowed to become the Vice President of the United States, a serious contender to replace Donald Trump should he step aside as the Republican candidate, or ever hold office again because he supports the abuse of children by supporting conversion therapy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

Even that bastion of liberalism packed with bleeding-heart liberals that is the American Medical Association, “[O]pposes, the use of “reparative” or “conversion” therapy that is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.”

For the record, being transgender has nothing to do with being homosexual. Being transgender and your gender identity is who you are and your sexual orientation is who you like to sleep with. What being transgender does have in common with homosexuality is that certain segments of the population wish we didn’t exist and those same people send their transgender children off to conversion therapy with lesbian, gay, and bisexual children.

While I was lucky enough to never get near conversion therapy, I have corresponded with and read accounts of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people who related the torture and brainwash techniques they endured. Every single one of them mention:

  • Isolation from people other than their tormentors within a contained physical space
  • Hostile shouting of repeated statements to accept or believe what is being shouted at them
  • It happening over multiple sessions
  • Frequent references to a Christian theological framework
  • Verbal threats for non-acceptance or belief in the theological framework or what is being shouted at them

The first time I heard this list, I was instantly transported back to summertime to when I was 9 or 10 on the shores of Lake Sammamish at a Christian day camp, Sambica. Sambica’s vision is to, “[…] communicate the truth and claims of Christ, as expressed in Scripture, in a way that youth can understand.”

I guess I didn’t understand that being systematically verbally abused in a small beach bunk house by a bunch of predominately male 18-22 year-old Evangelical Christians is the way to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, because I’m still an atheist. What I do understand is that it was child abuse, and abuse kills.

The suicide attempt rate for transgender people is 41%. Let that 41% statistic sink in. If they are harassed or bullied, the incidence rate jumps to 50% or more, (see page 11,) which is right around the fatality rate of Ebola. The 41% rate is already horrific enough when you compare it against the 3.35% U.S. average suicide rate, but when you consider that conversion therapy is harassment and bullying, it’s clear that people like Mike Pence are content to increase the likelihood children will kill themselves.

When you layer in the racism inherent in the presidential ticket he’s a part of, the facts of the average life expectancy of a black trans girl is 35 and the suicide rate for multiracial trans people is 54%, (see page 7) start to come into context. Mike Pence’s beliefs support the erasure of people from society that do not fit into his worldview.

By supporting conversion therapy, Mike Pence aides, abets, and supports the death of children. He must be stopped.

If you’re not registered to vote, get registered. Do not vote for Trump/Pence. If you do, you support genocide for children.

©Heather Kilbourn

(If you like my writing and would like to support it, please consider purchasing my short story collection, A Cargo Cult of Memories.)