A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #

Patrick Roche

"Every Forty Seconds"

In 2014 the world health organization released a report stating that at least 800,000 people commit suicide every year
That average is to one person every forty seconds
Statistically speaking, by the end of this poem four people will have taken their lives

One
This is not a list poem
This is a eulogy for those swallowed by their own mind
This is a call to arms, a call to speak
This is not family gatherings when I mention mental health
And then told not to spoil the turkey
That it is uncouth
Impolite
That it is better to stay silent
This is taking that silence and then breaking it with my hands
With my teeth and tongue
This is people with mental illness banging our heads against the walls
Not out of Insanity
But to try to make some noise
To be heard
Too often we are ashamed
Too often we are in the shadows

Two
Suicide is not always a banshee wailing against your eardrums
It is the child playing hide and seek behind your friend's smile
They will not wear it openly
They will not hold its hand and introduce it to you
It is always invisible
Suicide is a lonely ghost desperate to give itself playmates
It is not a permanent solution to a temporary problem
These are so rarely temporary problem
It is aiming for a long night's sleep
After years of insomnia
It is a seduction of safety and simplicity
Sometimes it is careful planning
Drafting the note
Inspecting the apartment for beams that can support your weight
Or it is a flip switch
Given the right trigger
Or no trigger at all
It is painting a target on the highway divider
It is imagining the phone call my mother will get in the middle of a nap
Sometimes it is sudden
It is not always arriving

Three
The most convenient time of the clock keeps ticking
Every forty seconds
This is not a list poem
This is the tea kettle rising to a soprano screech
But you keep ignoring it to watch T.V.
It keeps whistling and crying
But you keep ignoring it
How much noise do I have to make
When we tell you that we are suicidal
It is a cry for help
But that's not a sign of weakness
This is not a sign of weakness
This is saying that we're fighting and we've been fighting with every weapon and fist we have
We've crashed against the cliffside
Broken and splintered
But we're still fighting with whatever we can
I'm using my voice
That's all I have left

Four
Over the years I have written different versions of my suicide note
On the nights I almost took my life I always deleted or threw away the note
Rather than sending it or leaving it for someone
I assumed the words would just make them uncomfortable
If I'm going to die
Better to do it without all that fuss
Better to do it in silence
Hundreds and thousands of people are dying in silence
And because of silence
This is not a list poem
This is saying we can keep each other breathing
This is speaking louder than the stigma and hoping someone will listen

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #


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