Sarah Liberti on Casually Suicidal at TEDxAdelphiUniversity (Transcript)

I tell them everything that happened. The drive, everything that led up to the thoughts, the actual thoughts I had, and what happened in the hospital. There was silence after I spoke for a solid 20 minutes. My friend looks me in the eye; I could see a glimmer of confusion, and they say to me, “Sarah, you’ve always known what I thought about people who want to kill themselves: let them; they’re weak, and we’re better off without them.” I don’t talk to my best friend anymore.

I don’t know where they are or what they’re dealing with their life. And I don’t think they’re a bad person. We were so young. And if you hadn’t dealt with mental illness directly, you don’t know it. If you weren’t educated properly, how are they supposed to know what to do, what to say, how to feel? Discomfort is what drove us apart.

Discomfort crumbled our relationship. I feel sorry for them. And I feel sorry for every little boy who can’t cry and every little girl who can’t get angry. Because they have to keep it inside; because if they let it out, they would make the other people uncomfortable, and we’re told that that’s wrong. Discomfort is at the root of all of this emotional turmoil people feel. We don’t want to share out of the fear, it’ll hurt someone.

And we’re too afraid to ask because it just might not be our place. Let someone deal with their sadness alone; it’s a journey they have to take alone. Let me tell you, it feels good to share; it feels really good to ask for help. I actually told a friend of mine recently that I’m trying to start up therapy again.

And my friend, a rather intelligent woman, can’t look at me the same ever since I told her this. I bumped into her a couple of days ago, and the conversation went something like this: “Hello”

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“Hi, Sarah”

“How are you?”

“Good. How’s it going with your doctor?”

I just stare at her for a little while. “My therapist is a great woman”.

“That’s good.” And she wouldn’t leave, like she wanted to help me, but she didn’t know how, so I just lingered in the discomfort for a little longer, and I wanted to say, “We can grab lunch the three of us some time”, but I didn’t, I just said goodbye. I feel bad for her. How uncomfortable she was with me, her friend. And I feel sorry for this religion teacher I had. When I was in middle school, we went to after school religion class.

She was an older woman. One day, she taught the class that people who commit suicide go straight to hell that there was no chance of them getting into heaven because they took away the most precious gift God can give you: life. I agree with her that life is beautiful, but I feel sorry for her because she was so uncomfortable to see the pain a person is in when they actually end their life. She’ll never understand that people can hurt so bad that they end a life. We need to stop oversharing online and undersharing in real life, start reaching out.

Reach out to others that you may see in pain; reach out for yourself; ask for help; share your emotions. Because there is something so beautiful about being human that we have all of these emotions. And yes, feeling happiness, and joy, and love up here are a wonderful thing, but there is something also wonderful about feeling the depths of despair and hopelessness. It’s a part of the human experience, and being human is something we have to embrace, and that especially includes discomfort.

If you see someone in pain just ask, “Are you okay?” It’s not hurting anyone, I promise.

Just know that some girl with frizzy hair and glasses told you that, I promise It’s a weird world we live in. Why am I so comfortable to write online but not to share in real life? I want to change that. Because, you know, the CDC reports that someone around the world kills himself every 40 seconds, and that suicide rates have done nothing but increase in America since 1999; that scares me. It scares me that I lost a friend, that the point of a view from a friend about me has changed.

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It’s incredible. I think everything I’m trying to say can be summarised by a quote from my favourite fictional history teacher Cory Matthews of Boy Meets World and Girl Meets World. He once taught his students that the secret of life is that people change people. I’d like to add on to what Mr Matthews said: I believe that people change people because people need people; we need to embrace being human and all of the beauty and ugliness that comes along with it.

Thank you.

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