Author: Travis Scott
My name is Travis Scott. You don’t know who I am, but I’m here to tell you I’ve suffered from suicidal ideation almost my entire life. (For those who don’t know, this means I’ve suffered from thoughts of killing myself).
I’ve kept my suicidal ideation under the rug for many, many years. Never in my life have I ever told a single soul about it until recently.
I’d decided to refrain from telling anyone when I was a kid. And for all those years, a portion of me thought that I was going to live a long life (though it might be a struggle), and die of natural causes whilst taking all of these thoughts with me to the grave. To me, I thought I would achieve something if none were the wiser. Because who needs to know what I can keep under control?
To those who do know me, or know of me, this admission would most certainly come as a shock. I’ve gone through large portions of my life experiencing suicidal thoughts, and no one has ever once suspected me of it. Or if they did, they never said anything. Not passive observers, associates, or even close friends or family members
After having sat through many talks at school or my vocation about suicide, and signs of suicide, never has anyone come up to me after these to check up on me regarding my mental state in person, or over the phone. Because none of them see it.
This is because I hide these thoughts very well. Again, nobody suspects me. I’ve been described as strong willed, charismatic, as having a great smile, as being wise, having an abnormal amount of emotional control over myself, and one of the better ears to listen and shoulders to cry on. There’s a reason this is the way I am, and it is not because I was born with these qualities.
In my life I’ve collected a string of accomplishments that, if someone were to look at, they might describe me as a person whose moderately successful in his own domain, and perhaps has “drive” and “ambition”.
I am not telling you any of this to brag. I am telling you this to let you know that even though its true, absolutely none of it matters. You could have a healthy body and achievements, and still feel or think these things. Take that into consideration when you’re looking out for others- because it’s not always obvious who has bad thoughts, and who doesn’t.
I’m reminded of a poem my high school English teacher shared with my class, called “Richard Cory” by Edwin Burlington Robinson. The entirety of the poem is about a man who is dressed nice, and well-mannered. He has a track-star career, and money in the bank. The final line of that poem involves him committing suicide. My English teacher told me that it was the first poem she ever read, and it stuck with her throughout her life. The same thing happened to me when I heard it.
Why I Was Silent
I was eleven or twelve when I made the decision not to talk about my suicidal ideation, and it was for two reasons. The first being that I believed from a young age that they were completely normal. I heard them from family members in my life from a very young age on a regular basis.
After a lot of thought, I’ve made the choice to rescind that decision I made in my childhood. This comes with elements of risk to it. But I believe that talking about what I’ve gone through could yield far more benefits to others, than to do what I originally planned and keep everything to myself.
Because of how I was raised, when I listened to talks given about suicide awareness, sometimes I would say to myself “everyone thinks this,” or “most people think this stuff,” or “if not most, a great many do.” I suspected more people thought about suicide then even the suicide-awareness people let on, or were capable of comprehending. Yet even thought I thought everyone felt this way, for some reason, it was taboo for any one person to say out loud.
I read a quote somewhere that went something like this: the way modern society works is that it makes a great many people unhappy. But instead of fixing the way society is run, they’ve invented drugs to displace that unhappiness. Therefore society can keep being broken, while it makes the right people the money they want as they continue to sedate everyone else.
This leads to my second reason for hiding my ideation. I figured the reason so many people felt this way was because the system was broken; So why would I trust the broken society that fostered these ill thoughts with healing me?
I often I perceived that when society tried to help people with mental illness, often the “help” could hardly be described as ‘humane’. I’d heard terrible stories of people with minor mental issues get thrown into a “mental healthcare system” that does not differentiate well between the extremely disturbed from the hardly ill. Where what might have been a temporary mental sickness became a prolongated problem due to some misdiagnosis or bad treatment.
I saw that there were doctors and methods out their that I did not trust with my life or well being. I said to myself that I’d be better off finding my own way to live and make myself better. There are good doctors, and there are ill ones. I have no way of immediately differentiating between the two. There are many doctors (how many, I don’t know) who think they need people to be broken to make a living. A healed patient, of course, is a lost source of income.
This is a jaded view, but I know I am not the only one who is skeptical of treatments or being treated. I have seen select therapists and such throughout my life, but haven’t disclosed such thoughts before.
A Change of Direction
I know one day, all our scars will disappear, like the stars at dawn
and all of our pain, will fade away when morning comes
and on that day when we look backwards we will see, that everything is changed
and all of our trials, will be as milestones on the way
and as long as we live, every scar is a bridge to someone’s broken heart
-For Miles, Thrice
I want to relate this to the time I came out over my Facebook about being molested as a child. My molestation had been masquerading for years in my memory as something else entirely. Most perpetrators of the crime mask this behavior with language, creating word associations that are related with games, rather than what it actually is: a sexual crime. So when you remember the act, you don’t remember for what it is.
When I had come to realize that I had actually been molested, I spent years being mad at God an everyone for what I’d gone through. Even when I had explained my anger away, deep down, it didn’t go away.
I had thought of writing about it for many months. I’d avoided the task for many reasons. Yet when I came out about this to my friends, hundreds of people I’d grown up with through grade school, or been to dance competitions with, or knew threw family/religious associations, all read it. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I’d been blown away by the responses I got.
I felt like I just had something to get off my chest. But I had people coming up to me saying that “the same thing happened to me, but I didn’t realize it until I read what you wrote.” I’d gotten dozens of thank-yous and personal messages from people I hadn’t considered it would effect.
There were also other people who contacted me. People who I had known a long time but hadn’t spoken to in months. People who helped me write books, or been through hard times with me.
Often, I’d felt like I was the only one who reached out to people to check and see if they were all OK. It was hardly the other way around. All of a sudden they wanted to reach out and talk to me out of desperation and see how my mental state was. I wish it didn’t take a confession for that to happen.
But aside from that, I’m here to tell you that something strange happened. The pain of what I’d felt related to the molestation had all but disappeared. And in the years since sharing that pain, I’d lost interest in the aftermath of the tragedy. More and more I stopped considering thoughts like “life could have been so different if that never happened,” and woes faded more and more into the back ground.
I plan on doing the same thing with this. Whether or not this heals me more is irrelevant. What matters is if it heals someone else. I’m going to go over all the rationalizations I made in my head (however distorted). Then I will go over some solutions that I’ve applied to myself, and could be applied to others.
This will take a while. Admitting I’ve had suicidal ideation is one step. There are other things I’d like to talk about, like why I have it, how I deal with it, and maybe what it means to society. But those will take a minute.
For years, I’ve always said “no” to suicide just because. Sometimes I have reasons, other times, I say “the waves eventually go away”. They do, but they inevitably return for a list of reasons down the road. Over the years I’ve come more and more to believe that life is bigger than I thought it could be, it’s most definitely worth living, and I have a greater variety of tools to fight these thoughts then I did in the past. Later, I plan on giving them all to you.
I imagine that if I write all this down, somebody somewhere will get something out of it. That is all I care about. Per chance, the more I write down, the more people it will help.
Very few people who have suicidal ideation talk about it, and many people never bring it up because they either think help doesn’t exist, they don’t need or want it, or the “help” will make things worse. From my point of view, society at large has failed to care about many of you people out there.
I’m writing this in an informal manner, and not for a medical publication of some kind. In doing so, I’m taking a giant step over all these institutions and feel-good awareness clubs. I’m not against the idea of speaking at a conference or discussion table hosted by one of these organizations in the future. But to be honest, my distrust of the healthcare system is most of the reason I have been silent all these years.
These organizations are not all irrelevant, but more often then one would like, they fail. Like all institutions, they are human at their core. For “mental health” guilds and facilities, machine-like bureaucratic elements have been created to minimize human error during the application of treatment. Ironically, this often crushes the compassionate-creative element that real attentive healing requires.
I did call a crisis hot-line before I wrote this. That type of stuff might actually help you, so don’t discount it. They did not help me very much. I got the same response I often get if I talk to professionals about this: “You seem 10 steps ahead of most the people I talk to,” says the operator.
Uh-huh. Still here, though. So here goes nothing.
Original Story on AVFM
These stories are from AVoiceForMen.com.
(Changing the cultural narrative)