Collateral damage
November 15, 2018
November 15, 2018

Triggers can be found everywhere; it’s in conversations among peers, in popular media, and even in classroom discussions. It can be difficult to handle stimuli that hit you. They become dangerous when mishandled, as the problem not just lies in social cues, or in the definitive measurement of sensitivity and the lack thereof.

Unpleasant thoughts and ideations can come suddenly and most certainly not in a subtle way. It’s your unwanted friend whom you wish will never visit you again, and so you do your best to fend it off.

Triggers can come on a Tuesday afternoon, too. I got a haircut in one of the barber shops in Taft when I heard a stranger blatantly saying “pakamatay ka na” to one of his friends. Sans context, this is problematic in itself. Have we come to the point that statements like this can be said so casually without caution or concern for others that may be affected by them?

Nowadays, it’s easy to joke about and let go of statements such as “I want to die”, “kill me now”, or “you should just kill yourself”, all without the actual consciousness of the weight of these words. People often forget that to others, these words are what they mean to say, and what they mean to do. More than that, these words may cause people to actualize their plans. Taking one’s own life cannot simply be a subject of jokes; to die at one’s own hands is nothing funny or close to being humorous.

I have had my own share of hardships, being diagnosed with major depressive disorder and having been suicidal. When campaigns and laws were promoted and passed, I thought that the stigma and apathy would no longer be part of my problems. I thought that people would know better than mock the depressed and our struggles. This, now, is not a matter of how “sensitive” one is to unsympathetic one-liners; offending and deprecating peers, after all, is not the sole basis for quips.

After taking a six-month leave from this institution a year ago, I can only describe how long it would take to still recover. In the span of two terms since then, I have received news of suicide attempts and self-harm incidents that have transpired in Taft. I could only respond by trying to know what might have caused them to do so. I am not trying to be “lenient” about it, nor am I promoting such actions. In engaging oneself in the conversation regarding suicide, one must be open to the discussion and inquiry of how to understand the struggles. Judgment should not follow discovery; we, as humans, should first and foremost learn how to understand.

Much can be said about this issue, but everything can still worsen to something much more grisly than apathy—selective sensitivity. Being concerned for one’s own agenda, and being indifferent to others’ is being selfish. Just because something works for you, doesn’t mean that it does the same to others. If one truly knows the struggles of those suffering from the same problems, wouldn’t it be unjust to not consider their well-being as well? But then again, to give a damn about other people will always be voluntary.

As days pass, more cases—recorded and not—come into the light, yet the most that we can do is offer unregulated bills and laws, avenues for therapy session referrals, and “contracts” to sign that we, ourselves, know are of no help. Efforts must not stem from the perspective of seeing the best possible outcome. These must instead be done in preparation for the worst.
Since we are greatly responsible for what we say and what we put out even on social media, there must be caution on our part. Undeniably, there is hope that what may be happening now may just be stepping stones for humanity towards understanding mental health issues. Problems being faced now may not be encountered in the future. Yet, before any system can be considered free from flaws and faults, there will be birthing pains. Like how experiments involving trial and error processes work, there will always be some sort of collateral damage.
That is us.