Sunday, October 10, 2010

The "Shoulds" Killing Gay Youth

Another gay related suicide was reported in the news today.  In an earlier post, I discussed how all action is a response to a thought.  In the case of a gay person committing suicide, or trying to commit suicide, it is always coming from the equation:

 I should be straight + I should be normal
 = I should be dead

It is way past time that we get smarter about this.  Someone cannot take the extreme action of killing themselves without a "should" in their thoughts.  A "should" is a rigid and inflexible belief about yourself, others, or the world.  When you use "should" you are presuming you know how things "should" be, and demanding that things had better go your way or not at all.  Suicide is an extreme response to this thinking.  

I am proposing a one day moratorium on "shoulds" on Monday, November 1st.  One day without, "I should be straight." One day without, "I should be normal." One day without, "There is something inherently wrong with me and I should change."

Sure, "it gets better," but absorbing that message requires someone to have faith in a future event.  It comes as little comfort to someone who is seriously contemplating suicide.  It is time to help gay youth stand up and fight against the "shoulds" that are demanding they kill themselves.  Teach them how to say NO to the internal and external voices telling them they should die.  Give them tools for intelligently and effectively challenging the thought, "You will never be normal so you shouldn't live."

It is not enough to blame bullies, legislators, haters.  There will always be sources of negativity and hate in our lives.  By living "should-less" you effectively protect yourself against the hatred and rigid standards of others.  Living "should-less" is a recognition that they may hate you, but you don't have to hate yourself.  I am living proof that these tools can save your life. They can help you too. 

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist seeing individuals, couples, and families in New York City. He is also the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post and I will join you in making Nov 1st a should-less day.