• Aedan Tanner

An Open Letter to Myself & Others Concerning Suicide | September 10th - World Suicide Prevention Day


I was going to start this letter out with “to whom it may concern,” but I’m feeling that this may concern all humans, or just a small fraction, or none at all—most likely just myself. Yet, I am not self-defeating and can see the merit in the energy I spent writing this letter.

This is a compromise since I still do fuck up and break promises on occasion, but I am feeling how vulnerability and being honest verbally about this struggle opens up the world to see that this isn’t a solitary issue. I want to say I'm tired of wanting to kill myself.

Suicide is bigger than just being a mental health concern for the individual. Suicide goes deeper than the stories we tell ourselves. Death itself is in the very fabric of how we conduct ourselves in life...

I was named after my grandfather who killed himself when my father was 5. His suicide didn’t inform my life much, if at all, but it completely transfixed my father’s life in the direction it took, and my father informed my life with his strengths and values as well as his addictions and struggles. Suicide, and how it was not healed within my father, is in my DNA so I understand it, intimately. I see how suicide is majorly a men’s issue along with more drastic mental health issues, but I disagree in the sense that this is only a statistic. For men, suicide may seem more of an option based on the independent or going-it-your-own attitude. This isn’t a man or woman issue, it’s a human issue so I will drop that language right now. This is an issue that can only fester when we feel alone, isolated, and hopeless.

I am writing this as a message of hope.

The road out of my self-imposed isolation has been packed with lessons in seeing shared suffering and shared joy as a human struggle. We all wish to be happy; we all wish to avoid pain. Belonging and wanting community is in our blood as social creatures. Fitting in is not conformity. Fitting in is not an individual goal of being more likable and therefore more highly regarded. Fitting in is recognizing that life is ALL about having each other’s backs.

We are all in this together. Fitting in is knowing we are all puzzle pieces and we all do belong somewhere even when we are certain this is not the case. Fitting in is speaking up when you feel like leaving may be your only option...

And no matter how much I want to hit the ejector button and leave early sometimes, I also don’t feel like that is a healthy alternative. All guilt aside, leaving others with loss is not wellness in action. And I advocate wellness over all else, because this holistic mindset is the remedy for individuals, families, companies, countries, and the world at large.

And I’m not always operating from a place where wellness reigns. Suicide always has been a frequent thought process for me: sometimes it surfaces when feeling despondent, stuck, and emotionally downtrodden, beaten, and utterly, utterly hopeless. Hopelessness makes me feel like I’m the only one that feels it.

I know I am not alone.

However, deep down I feel alone. Did I mention feeling alone? I feel this aloneness like I would feel the grass or a lover’s cheek. I feel lonesomeness like it is permanent and I cannot escape. It’s real and tangible and my mindset is what informs how I’m going to respond to it.

I feel lonely all the time and am okay with healthy solitude. However, lonesomeness—or feeling irretrievably alone—is something I feel at least once a day. I’m either alone in actuality, in the proximity of others in a cafe, or in a crowded concert hall physically touching others. If there is a concert happening, the reason for joy is often the music. And unless you are seeing the show with friends, the joy does not come from being surrounded by others. These others are often just afraid of you as you are of them.

Why are we like wild animals? I keep envisioning chewing off my own leg to get out of this hunter’s trap that is modern life; but something is keeping me stuck (the trap) and something is keeping me here with the idea that I’m stuck in the first place. A catch 22 or chicken or the egg scenario. We aren’t chickens, or foxes, or mice: we are primates and we are socially and irrevocably linked. We are meaning makers, and when we feel lonesome or suicidal, there must be a reason: I must have been made wrong.

Shame is what we feel when we are loathe our brokenness; Pride is what we feel when we celebrate our wholeness. Somewhere in the middle is where we can healthily admit our faults and be confident in our successes.

For me, suicide and having a zeal in life are two sides of that inexorably linked coin. I do nothing when depressed, I talk a lot and create a lot when I am happy. I’ve been described as binary. Bipolar is another. Manic-Depressive is another fancy term. Being split in half is not so fun. Fractured and separated and I’m never the one labeling me this...

I just feel it, intrinsically. I sometimes feel broken and sometimes I feel invincible. In this dual world I always strive for balance. Sometimes I’m feeling calm, emotionless, and self-possessed other times I’m feeling all the feels and seem half-possessed.

But, hey, there are two lobes of the brain and we need both to survive. We need our full expression however that arises. We are symmetrical in most of our sense organs. Everyone is always going on about masculine/feminine, right/wrong, left/right, liberal/conservative, on and on and on. We are a bicameral people. We are bilateral thinkers. So, when I am labeled as two-sided I feel misrepresented. I didn’t invent duality: we are just living in it. I just wake up some days yearning for death or inexistence. Other days there is a modicum of okayness. Sometimes I do something worthwhile. More and more I am seeing the point in waking up and living life to its fullest.

More and more, life is feeling more ALIVE.

What I’m saying is that I have no cure for what is occurring in my reality, just like no one else can alleviate me from these bouts either way.

Where this open letter begins is the how of the why I am writing. My intention and why is to speak on wanting to live and the accountability I am taking as an individual to say this, share this, and speak up about this devastating shitty story. Perhaps this will give others cause and pause for opening up to this conversation: it’s already open. Too many people die every day, from individual suicide as well as collective violence.

But this conversation is open and is like a wound that we pick at and don’t have a salve for yet. Other “issues” are still in the limelight and gain better footing in speaking on. Having both individuals wanting to die, as well as a collective death-wish seems very serious to me. This death-wish manifests as suicide for the individual and for the collective, it is rampant in vast environmental destruction; confusion, rage and squabbling in politics; and a general malaise with life. Without holding accountable to any sort of compassion, we can be manipulative and mean on the tame side, and violent and cruel on the extreme side. This present themselves as gaslighting, road rage, school shootings, and corporate competition. Abuse is abuse. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and if a few eggs get broken in the meantime, so be it.

Even extreme POVs (pro-life vs. pro-choice) are seen in everyday waking life and can bring out the militant in even the most peaceful supported. It’s good to have values and opinions and beliefs, but I bring up this specific debacle because we care more about a theoretical child and the choice rather than the actual physical people that are suffering from depression, poverty, and abuses all around them and choosing to hurt themselves and others. We care about opinion more than the fact of suffering occurring around us. Pro-life is just an opinionated choice. And pro-choice is just an opinion taken in life. I am not advocating anything; I’m just sharing that in this context we can see that this death-wish and this zeal for life & choice all are interlinked. Unfortunately, everyone just wants to be divisive and “take a side.”

But I remind you: we’re all in this together.

The how of the why is more complex. I don’t want to write this: it is very difficult even though the words are just spontaneously spilling from me and coming into form. The challenge is how my brain stutters and how emotions brew forth. The stagnancy or feeling small is this death-wish or pain-body portraying itself as the victim or victor.

Some days I still want the out. I still want that option. I want to delegate my choice in whether to kill myself or not when life gets tough. I have always been physically alone when I have gotten close to physically ending my life. There may not have been enough hugs when I was a child; maybe life is cold without platonic love; and perhaps too many codependent relationships have soured the partnership ideal. We romanticize partnership and then we forget to romance ourselves and settle into ruts and loops.

What I’m saying is that there will never be a way to settle how to make the choice (for life or for choice) for a hypothetical fetus, just as much as for someone sovereign in their own life. Everyone’s life is their own to do with as one pleases.

We must give them that option, but we must also be better at giving them that safety net for when they do fall.

Do I WANT to live? Sure. Do I YEARN and SLABBER or LUST for every single day like it’s my last or just because I wish to do exciting, joyful, and exhilarating things? No. I’m not sure what that means or how to do that. But the former question is a question of living. The latter question is a question on BEING ALIVE. Am I alive? Yes. Do I want continual self-improvement? Yes and No. Yes, because I want to be the change I want to see in the world. And no, because I am inherently whole, complete, and beautiful.

But there is still that lingering death-wish, and I’m seeing that it is not MINE. That lingering anxiety is within all of us. It’s a nervousness when you’d rather flip the table in anger but not doing so because of the cooling by social ques and pressures. We need safe places to release our emotions, but we also need education on how much is too much—and to see when our emotions are being used as bargaining chips, manipulation, or attention seeking.

We need more education on self-awareness. As well as more education on social-awareness.

It’s not us vs. them anymore. And when we see others as the problem, this causes a strain on our relationship with them and with ourselves. Passing shame, blame, and guilt are the modus operandi of people caught in the trap of victim consciousness. Yet we are in a new age: this is a time of empowered consciousness where we make healthy choices based on taking ownership.

But we all slip up and emotions are beautiful. We can be overly emotional, snap at someone, cry for no reason, wall ourselves off when feeling unsafe.

Personally, I’ve burned bridges because I never learned empowered and healthy emotions. It was mostly trial-and-error until I learned inner balance and stability. I’ve been too much in certain circumstances, like a boiler letting off steam. I’ve burned myself and others.

I’ve learned to accept these consequences but this hyper self-reliance is just indicative of lonesomeness playing it’s tricks. I often suffer in silence because on two separate occasions I’ve felt safe to let out certain emotions and I was committed to psychiatric wards. That’s my story unfortunately and one where those I felt safe around did not feel safe around me. If you haven’t gotten the hint yet by this letter, I most always would commit harm on myself before I’d hurt another. This isn’t better, just the way it has presented itself. But I have hurt others in my temper tantrums. Even us full grown adults are subject to hissy fits, if we aren’t aware enough to balance our sides.

All in all, there is a breach in trust when around others emotionally. Who do I trust? Who can I be cognizant enough with AND emotionally expressive without being labeled, committed, or made into a pariah? Where can I be ME without any limits or restraints?

I just want to experience a healthy, fulfilling life. THAT is being alive to me. Not necessarily thrill seeking, but just being content without having to strive and compete with everyone else. I see so much rivalry and discompassion. I see so much isolation based on eons of broken trust and collective suffering, war, and abuse. I see suffering as a symptom of a larger issue within our world of perceived separation. We hold onto pain like it’s a badge of honor. I say it’s more cowardly to let the system just churn out more pain; this is a choice to turn a blind’s eye to what is being done around us. This ignoring of pain is the essence of suffering.

This is not a given: we only suffer when we suffer alone.

And I’m not alone. It hurts to say that. But it has been my go-to, or my last “held” ideal—that I am alone—so that if everything gets worse, offing myself is still on the table. Self-preservation usually wins out, but there it is. This is not a revolver. It is a revolution. This is a chance to change for the betterment of our species. On the table.

Who will move first: the individual/collective death-wish or some sort of interdependence, cooperation, and mutual love for strangers, neighbors, and other humans exactly like me?

Well, not exactly like me, that’d be boring. I seek zany characters from weird walks of life. What is identical is that desire for health and happiness. And that desire for belonging and unique expression can show up differently for each human being walking weird through life. We are each, alone, in this, together. That’s oneness to me.

There is too much focus on difference and preference and sides: the only thing that matters is that shared similarity: we are all one. Not as a platitude, but as a fact that love always wins over everything else. It’s my only rule. It’s something that has kept me alive. And I know I’m alive because I would never wish this type of muted, anxious, internal miring onto anyone.

I see no enemy, in or out: I only see how I can help. That’s service to me. There are no others, just what we perceive and call it. I chose to live. I choose life. I choose to be ALIVE.

Thank you.


A Concerned, and Grateful, Citizen


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