I have heard of two autistic people, one I know, and one I don’t, attempting or thinking of attempting suicide recently.
I remember a few years ago hearing that an autistic woman had included my article — written at the age of 19, with a lot I’d have changed by now — The World I Want to Live In, in a suicide note. I can’t remember if she actually attempted suicide, and I can’t remember, if so, whether she survived. I think she disappeared at some point. I hope she’s still around.
And I remember way too well thinking that death was better than anything life had to offer. Thinking that I wanted things better but that they couldn’t possibly really be better.
And then being astounded when I survived a bunch of inept attempts on my own life, a couple inept attempts by others on my life, and several gradations of hell, to find myself in a situation that is a lot better (and a lot different) than anything I could have thought up when I was in the worst of my despair (or frankly anything I could have thought up even when I wasn’t despairing). Not that I’m living any kind of fairy tale, or that my life isn’t difficult, but it’s better than it ever was before.
But even besides that.
I’m thinking of a post I read on Women of Color Blog called The Women the World Requires.
And a quote from it, “Which means that for our communities, death is not the ultimate fuck you–living is.”
And despite the immense differences between our communities and the communities talked about in that blog entry, that one statement is also true for the autistic community, and the disability community in general. People expect us to die off. A lot of them even want us to die off. The pressure to die is far greater at times than the pressure to live.
I’ll never condemn a suicidal person, because I’ve been there, but I’ll hope and pray that from somewhere they will get the strength to keep living in spite of, even in defiance of, a world that too often says we’re better off dead and forgotten as quickly as possible. Even if it’s just dragging through one nanosecond after another, each one seeming like hell to try to get through, even if you’re sticking around for something that you think would seem stupid and trivial to anyone else, even if you’re only sticking around because you can’t get up the energy to follow through with suicide… that’s how it goes sometimes. Things can get better. But (and no matter what some asshats may tell you in contradiction of this — and by definition anyone who tells you the opposite of this is being an asshat) even at that point where you’re totally convinced things can never get better and that my words here are meaningless and so on, the world is better off with you in it than out of it. That’ll be true whether you can manage to believe it or not, and the rest of us know it.
Edit: Can anyone, especially anyone in the UK who knows Danni, please let us know if Danni is okay?