I don’t often think about suicide. It’s not the most pleasant topic. I haven’t actively thought about going down that route for a long time, so writing a film like False, where the character I play has suicidal thoughts that include in a suicidal dream isn’t something I relish. Still, this is a story that needs to be told.
I know what it’s like to feel like you’re disappearing and falling into the abyss. I have experienced the moments of wondering if I’m addicted to my pills. I’ve stood in front of a mirror and considered myself unworthy to exist. I’ve felt like I am disappearing when talking to my friends. I’ve put on lipstick and sunglasses to pretend that everything is ok, because lipstick will always make you look put together, and sunglasses hide the feelings of pain and emptiness that are so present when you experience an episode.
The last time I felt this bad isn’t a time I talk about. It happened right around the time I was finishing college, several years ago. I woke up feeling completely empty as if there was no point to continue on. I didn’t go to classes that day. I stared at my Swiss army knife and wondered how much blood would get on my sheets. I got through that episode by doing one of the things I do best. I made a hat. I made sure my hands were busy so that they couldn’t possibly reach out for that knife. That day was one of the scariest I’ve had in many years.
Eventually, my roommate came home, and though I was quiet, I didn’t mention what had happened that day. But I felt awful. I wanted to disappear. Out of guilt. Out of shame. Out of desperation. I couldn’t believe that I had even considered self-harm.
It’s scary to talk about. It’s scary to have these thoughts. It’s scary to tell your loved ones you have these thoughts. It’s not the most pleasant topic. But this is something that must be brought into the light. There is too much risk for the pain and hurt to go unsaid. And the aftermath is devastating.
Suicide is one of the unaddressed issues that no one talks about. People talk about the aftermath of suicide. People talk about what they could have done. But people rarely notice the signs of a suicidal episode when they’re happening. Because so often the person experiencing the episode isn’t talking. They are so in their head that they can’t say what they’re feeling.
However, not noticing that someone is going through a suicidal episode can be as damaging as telling someone to “cheer up, there are people out there with far worse problems.” That in itself is an awful thing to say to someone experiencing a depressive episode. But not noticing that someone is having self destructive thoughts can be just as bad. Because the person continues to feel invisible. Like there truly isn’t a reason to live.
But it’s hard to detect. How can you tell that someone is suicidal, when that person doesn’t want you to see anything? There’s no easy answer.
Making False is part of my effort to put some of my experiences of depression into the art form I am most passionate about. Into a medium that people can understand. I hope this film helps you notice more. Pay attention. To yourself. To your friends. The greatest tool we have to fight suicide is paying attention to the people around us. Listen. Care. Talk.