I was barely a teenager
the first time I tried to kill myself.
If I knew then what I know now,
well, it probably wouldn’t have changed very much
And it probably wouldn’t have changed very much
because sometimes it doesn’t matter what you know,
what you feel just takes over.
And there’s so many ways like this,
that our perception becomes limited.
In fact, our perception is its limits.
And these limits are created
by our biology, by our psychology, by our society.
These are the factors which create that bubble which surrounds us
that is our perceptual field,
our world as we know it.
Now this bubble, our perceptual field,
has this incredible ability to expand and to contract
based on changes in any of those factors which create and inform it.
Most of us have experienced
the challenges of the contraction of our perception from time to time.
Think about that time,
when you got cut off in traffic in the city,
it was probably today, let’s face it.
When it happened,
maybe you felt your heart rate start to quicken,
your face flush.
You jammed on your brakes in order to avoid a collision.
And when you did,
you focused in on that one license plate as it sped by.
Maybe the only thing to go through your mind at that time
was how creative you could be in the words
you were about to hurl out the window at that guy
Now eventually, your perception would have returned to normal,
You would have relaxed,
you would have gone on with your day.
You probably would have even forgotten about it.
But imagine you didn’t.
Imagine you stayed there,
stuck there, in that narrow, dark place.
Well that’s what it can be like to live with a mental illness.
At least, that’s what it was like for me,
at the depth of my own mental illness as a teenager.
My perception had become constricted,
and darkened, and collapsed.
I felt like an asthmatic
who had lost his glasses in a hurricane.
So when I was sitting in that chair,
across from my eighth-grade guidance counselor,
the only thing that I could think was
“You’re not good enough.”
“You’re not smart enough.”
“You’re not enough.”
And it didn’t matter if I was
because these were the constricted limits of my perception.
So when I held that 8-inch chef’s knife in my hand
and I raised it to my throat,
and I pressed it there
and I felt the blood begin to trickle down my hand,
the only thing I could think in that moment,
“Nobody would even know you’ were gone.”
I heard the guidance counselor ask from across the room,
it seemed like,he said,”Mark! Please don’t.”
他好像在说 “Mark 不要这样”
I heard him, but I wasn’t listening.
I just took a deep breath.
“I don’t have a choice.”
Had the guidance counselor not reached for me from across the room,
tackled me to the floor, wrestled that knife from my hand,
maybe I wouldn’t be here today.
I think about that a lot.
Now, not all days were that traumatic.
In fact, most days I probably seemed just like any other normal kid,
if not a little quiet.
And because the truth is, I was.
In fact I was so normal,
Most people would have never guessed.
They probably would have even been surprised to find out
how I would hate the way the sunlight came into my window every morning
when I would wake up.
And I know that some of you know that feeling, too.
I was so normal that a few years later,
after not getting the help that I so clearly needed,
Most people would have never known that I was the one
that had caused so much commotion late one night
when I tried to jump from an overpass.
Then again, if they did know,
I would have been the last to find out anyway
because that’s how these types of things go.
People seem plenty eager to talk about mental illness and about suicide
just as long as it’s behind closed doors and in hushed voices.
Well, this is the part that I’m doing differently with you today.
By sharing with you my experiences,
I hope to raise my voice.
And I hope to open those doors.
And this is how I do it: I remember.
I remember I was wandering the empty streets of my hometown.
I was alone this time, unlike that other time,
and it’s because I wanted to die alone.
My mind was running, screaming,
shaking, collapsing in on itself again.
When you’re in that place,
and your perception is collapsing like that,
those old thoughts kept coming back again,
“You’re not good enough,”
“You’re not smart enough,”
“You’re not enough.”
So, I walked up,
and I approached the railing to the overpass.
I walked along it, I looked over,
I came to a light post on my left-hand side,
and I stopped.
“Should I hang in there for just one more day?”
That’s a phrase that people always seem to ask themselves
when they’re suicidal I have found,
I asked it to myself
and others with whom I’ve worked, young people today,
they’ve asked it, too.
It’s this instinctual word of hope,
“Should I hang on there for just one more day?”
To be that crazy kid?
I’ve already held on for this long,
and things haven’t gotten any better.
Why would I keep trying?
What hasn’t been working?
I’m not crazy.
My perception was collapsing.
It was squeezing out that instinctual hope
that everybody has inside of them.
So I climbed the railing in three parts,
like rungs on a ladder.
I was being very careful not to slip.
I climbed back down the other side again.
I had very few choices in my life.
But this, this was certainly one.
And I needed something, anything,
that I could be certain about.
So I turned around.
I felt the railing pressing against my back, just below my shoulder blades,
I stretched my arms out on its cool metal surface.
I remember feeling raindrops under my fingers.
I looked down at my shoes.
My running shoes were old, worn out, tired.
My heels were on the concrete,
my toes were on nothing.
I looked past my toes
to the ground 50 or so feet below,
And on the ground, I saw a rusted out chain linked fence
topped by three strings of barbed wire.
As I was standing there in that moment,
the only thing that I could think from my collapsed perception was
“How far out would I need to jump from this bridge
so I wouldn’t land on that fence?”
Because I just didn’t want it to–
I just didn’t want it to hurt anymore.
In that moment, my entire life was completely in my control.
And when you’re living in a hurricane like this, all the time,
that’s a really unfamiliar,
but really satisfying feeling,
to feel like you have control over your whole life.
So I stayed like that for a while.
I just stood there in that feeling,
experiencing that feeling of having agency over my life for a change.
Eventually I was brought back into the present
by a man’s voice over my right shoulder.
I talked to him for a while,
but, even today, I don’t remember about what.
He was wearing a light brown jacket, but I don’t remember his face.
I didn’t look back long enough, and I never saw him again.
Before I knew it,
I could see flashing lights from the corner of my eyes.
I looked to my right and to my left,
and there were three police cars on either side blocking off the street.
There were crowds of late night gatherers,
gawking at me from either side.
This was two or three in the morning, I guess.
Either they came home from the bars
or they just walked up to see what was going on.
A male voice from my right side,
I heard him scream to me,
“Jump, you coward!”
OK, that’s enough.
Again. I took a deep breath in
and as I did, my arms seemed to rise from the railing
like they’d suddenly become weightless and unburdened.
I could feel the edge of the concrete
under the arches of my feet begin to shift.
I started to pitch forward.
And as I did, I felt the wind blow around my body,
and on my face, and through my hair,
and it felt free.
Then an arm reached around my chest,
a hand grabbed the back of my shirt.
The man in the light brown jacket later told police
that my body was completely limp when he grabbed me,
and he dragged me backward over the railing.
Can suicide really be a choice
if it’s the only choice available?
We ask ourselves,
“How can it be the only choice?”
“How can it even be a rational choice?”
And hopefully, we wonder,
and we ask ourselves how we can help.
Well, we can start to help
by better appreciating that our mental health is contingent on
the state and the flexibility of our perceptions.
Whether we have a mental illness or not,
how expanded or how contracted our perception becomes
impacts the choices that we make.
When I was standing on that bridge,
my perception was so collapsed
that I only had that one choice.
When we encounter the suicide of somebody else,
we always seem to try to rationalize it,
I hear it all the time.
And I think that’s because we’re uncomfortable
with feeling helpless and with not understanding.
But since we know
that our perceptions are created and continually informed
by our biology, by our psychology, and by our society,
Ｗe actually have many entry points
for potentially helping and better understanding suicide.
One way that we can help
is to stop saying that people commit suicide.
People commit rape, they commit murder, but nobody has committed suicide
in this country since the early 1970s when suicide was decriminalized.
有人犯了强奸罪 有人犯了杀人罪 但没有人犯自杀罪
And that’s because suicide is a public health concern,
not a criminal one.
And it’s a health concern, we know that.
90 % of people who die by suicide
have a diagnosable and treatable mental illness
at the time of their death.
And we know that, with medication, with psychotherapy,
these treatments work,
So we need to make these treatments more available
and in an informed way to everybody.
And we can be a part of that change,
whether we have a mental illness or not
by taking charge of our own mental health
When we go in for our annual physical,
we make a point of doing an annual psychological, too.
At both the individual and the societal levels,
we can challenge our old ideas
like that old idea of saying that people”commit” suicide.
When I first started out doing this,
I used to beg for somebody
to do something about suicide and stigma.
Well, that’s not acceptable anymore.
So instead, I’ve started doing something.
When a leading cause of death
among new mothers in the first year after childbirth is suicide,
that’s not acceptable either.
When our First Nations Inuit and Mantis communities are being ravaged
by a suicide rate 5-6 times higher than the national average,
that’s not acceptable.
When almost a quarter of 15 to 25-year-olds
who die at all die by suicide,
that is not acceptable.
So, like I said,
when I used to plead for people to do something,
and that’s not acceptable either,
Well, you’re here and you’re doing something already,
because you’re changing the way you think,
and that’s what changes the world.
For those of you who might be thinking about suicide today
Good. Keep thinking about it.
And then, start talking about it.
And then, start doing something about it, too.
And for those of you who might be contemplating suicide,
I know that there’s a hope somewhere deep inside you.
I’ve felt it, too.
Keep that hope alive.
We need you.
We need you to be leaders in this conversation,
whether we are ready to have it or not.
And trust me, if you’re anything like me,
it’s this conversation that’s going to keep you alive,
every single day,
As though you’ve got just one more day.
I was barely a teenager