Yeah, I’m swearing. In the title to a blog post. There will likely be more swearing in the post itself. Deal with it. Because I am pissed, right now.
[Trigger Warning: This post talks about suicidal thoughts/ideation and the act itself as well as referring to one author’s utter lack of tact with regards to same. If you’re not comfortable reading, that is completely okay and I understand—I’m only semi-comfortable writing it.
If you do continue reading, for context, please read the following post by V.E. Schwab. It explains and links to the things I’m going to refer to.]
(Trigger warning was copied verbatim from this post by my friend L.M. Murphy)
The writing community always seems to be in the middle of some shitstorm or other. Especially if you either are, or follow YA writers. It makes sense that they would be at the center of things. After all, they’re the ones influencing the people most at need of having someone who understands them. Which I’ll get back to, later.
In the past couple weeks, the YA writing community has had not one, but two shitstorms brew up. I stayed out of the first one. There were others who were tackling the Voya mess far more eloquently than I could have. So, I left them to it.
But this time… This time, I am the one being attacked. And for once in my life, I am going to stand my ground. Because I owe it to all the kids who are currently where I once was. And I owe it to those who saved me to pay it forward.
So… let’s start with my story. I’m not going to get into why I was suicidal. I had my reasons. But I’m not ready to share them yet. I hope that there never comes a shitstorm that forces me to share them. But, you don’t need to know my reasons to understand what I’m about to say.
I was six the first time I tried to overdose on the heart medicine that, among other things, slowed my heart rate down. Yes, I was well aware of what I was doing, and what the outcome would be. There were other attempts over the next eight years or so.
When I was twelve, I met the girl who was the first one I could really talk to about my reasons. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t alone. There was someone who understood me. At fourteen, I had another friend tell me that the next time I tried a stunt like that, he would damn well let me die, then bring me back so he could kill me himself.
Those two friends saved me. They gave me someone who understood me, and let me know that there were people who would care if I died. I’m still not completely better. I feel the same way about being suicidal as my father feels about being an alcoholic. “There is no such thing as a recovered alcoholic, only recovering.” Funny the difference a suffix makes.
But, being suicidal is the same. At least for me. I will always be suicidal. I’m just much less likely to try to act on it now than I was as a kid. I can deal with my inner demons better now, than I could then. Doesn’t mean they aren’t still there.
But, enough about me. I am not what this blog post is about. This is about Tommy Wallach, and his disgusting post (since taken down) about literary suicides, ranked by emo-ness. Not to mention his even more disgusting joke about jumping off of the bridge on the cover of his latest book.
Yes. You read that right. There is a writer – a YA writer – making jokes about suicide. Think about that for a minute. Remember my opening to this post? About YA writers being the ones influencing the people most at need of having someone who understands them? THIS is how this asshole uses his influence? By joking about suicide?
Look, fuckhead. By your joking, you are literally telling the kids who most need understanding and compassion that nobody cares about them. That their inner demons are worth joking about. That THEY are a joke.
And they deserve better than that. They deserve someone who understands them. They NEED someone who understands them.
Suicide is not a fucking joke. It is many things. Something different, maybe, to everyone who considers it. But one thing it is not, is a joke. For me, it was an escape route. The only way I could see to get away from my inner demons. When the inside of your own head is your own private corner of Hell on Earth, suicide looks like a viable option – a way out. For many others, it’s a cry for help.
But, what happens when those crying out for help read the bullshit Wallach posted? What message do they receive? That there is no help coming. That, in fact, nobody cares enough to help. To those who have never been there, that may seem like a jump. But trust me. it doesn’t take much to convince someone who already feels useless at best, and like the world would be better off without them at worst, that everyone else agrees.
Tommy Wallach, on two separate occasions, encouraged his own most vulnerable readers to commit suicide. And he is, to give him the benefit of the doubt, too stupid to even realize it. At least I’m hoping that’s his “excuse”. Because the alternative is that he knew damned well the kind of message he was sending and he didn’t fucking care.
And I’m trying really hard not to be cynical enough to think that. I’m trying really hard to not think that someone could be that callous. Though, that is hard in light of other things that have been said in the wake of all this.
And dear Gods, where to begin? Actually, I’m going to focus on the one that pissed me off the most. Let’s talk about the people calling those who attempt or commit suicide weak, and fragile.
You see, to someone that IS suicidal, calling us weak and fragile goes right back to what I said before about feeling like the world would be better off without you in it. Survival of the species requires that the strongest survive, right?
But, we are not weak. We are not fragile. It takes more strength than you could ever know to put down the gun or knife or razor blade, put away the medicine bottle, take off the noose, step away from the ledge. And believe me when I tell you that most of us HAVE done those things at least once.
So, fuck you, Tommy Wallach. Fuck you anyone who thinks this is a joke. Fuck you anyone who thinks that people like me are weak and fragile. There is a horrible, vindictive side of me that wants to tell you that if you think that you could really get into jumping off that bridge, maybe you should go ahead and do it. I admit that I tend to lash out, sometimes. It’s my way of protecting myself.
But, you know what? Maybe you SHOULD get out of the writing game. Especially out of YA. Get yourself, and your idiocy, away from kids and teenagers who deserve much better than you. Because you should not be talking to kids. You should not be influencing the most vulnerable demographic there is.
I’m going to get off my soap box, now. I will just close by repeating my title. I am not the fucking punchline to a fucking joke. I am not weak, or fragile. It took me years to get to a point where I, more often than not, do not believe that I am a waste of space and air that the world will be better off without. And I can’t let myself go back there.
Actually… I am not going to close this post with that. Instead, I am going to leave it with a message to anyone who is currently where I used to be. You are not alone. Whatever led you to where you are, there are others who have been there, who are currently there. There are others who understand. You are not a waste of space. The world would not be better off without you. Hang in there. Find someone to talk to. A therapist, or even an understanding friend. Do what it takes to get yourself through this in one piece. And feel free to tell people like Tommy Wallach and his trolls to go fuck themselves. Because you aren’t the punchline to a joke, either. You are not weak. You are not fragile. And you deserve better.