What is stigma and why is it important to be educated about the term, ‘stigma’ that impacts the Deaf community today and tomorrow? Everybody is fighting his or her own personal battles that you know nothing about. Stigma is a huge part of mental health.
There were couple of older blog posts I wrote about challenges of suicide in Deaf community. It’s really powerful. I’ve experienced a Deaf friend by the name of Greg from the school bus we rode together committed suicide when I was in 8th grade, and one of my hearing professors who committed suicide which hit me hard. She was only 39 years old. My first Sociology class was Sociology of Health and Medicine under Professor Heather Hartley.
I never forget the day when I showed up into classroom with injured right arm from kick-ass bicycle accident where I crashed my right shoulder so hard on the road and I was wearing an arm sling that time. I couldn’t write. Too much pain. That day was final exam. Yet, I still showed up with bicycle again.
She had a better idea and asked me to meet her in her office, and took the final exam by typing down the answers on her computer to take final exam and save it and send it to her. That was a brilliant idea. She was a good professor. Also, I remember the day when the news broke where I showed up for a Sociology course, Criminology and my professor was looking really down, it was not the professor I know. It became quiet in the classroom. It hit the hardest. They were good friends. The same professor in that quiet classroom later discussed about “Suicide: A Study in Sociology” book by Émile Durkheim.
When I had a fatal heart attack last November 2016, I continue to question my death experience and how I defied death. Living in real world at this current hour has been much harder than I ever face with, and it finds a lot of strength and growing pain to deal with, and one of the most challenging part, was the haters who went after me after I woke up from death. It is much worse than death. Living with labels. Especially most damaging labels. It leads a major culprit.
On the face of it, gaining access to find help, support, and strength how to overcome adversity, it was also cynical, is the most difficult thing. The last 32 years of my life has been rough enough that is way too much to deal with everyday, and when I got a gift certificate for my birthday from my mother last December 2018, I stopped by Barnes and Noble bookstore to buy a book to read: Shame: Free Yourself, Find Joy, and Build True Self-Esteem by Joseph Burgo, Ph.D.
Joseph Burgo writes: “Self-esteem can’t thrive in the soil of nonstop praise and encouragement. Instead it depends upon setting and meeting goals, living up to the expectations we hold for ourselves, and sharing our joy in achievement with the people who matter most to us. Listening to and learning from encounters with shame will go further than affirmations and positive self-talk in helping to build authentic self-esteem.”
One of my many and beloved Sociology classes, I learned a great deal about Erving Goffman, a high-thinking sociologist who coined “stigma” where he described, “Society establishes the mean of categorizing persons and the complement of attributes felt to be ordinary and natural for members of each of these categories.”
How do you cope with the society when it establishes the mean-spirited of battling with tendencies to go toward suicides?
I am not writing this for myself only, but it applies to Deaf returnees living in Deaf community lacks for accessibility and big help, over the past couple of decades have shaken Deaf America and made them the most invisible minority group and their own identity and forgotten stories. When it comes to Deaf returnees who comes back into the society to change their life around, and blowing the whistle to test the strength, and the story is very much related to my experience.
When Calvin Young, a Deaf vlogger made a vlog: “Life is like a Jenga” is a great example of how to overcome adversity. Dealing with Jenga through shadows, and try to think positive as much as possible, and try to be in my shoes if you can handle Jenga. Beyond the shadows of Jenga, there are real consequences for living with the label. I learned of the news that there are four times more likely to commit suicide for young children as much as ten years old, with hard life lessons.
There are plenty of people who got away with miserable actions, but did not own up to their actions. Again, I am far from perfect and I make human mistakes, too. Will you be willing to learn the culture of Deaf returnees?
As the author of Shame: Free Yourself, Find Joy, and Build True Self-Esteem wrote from the book: “You’re a fucking loser. You’re pathetic. You’re ugly. Nobody likes you. You might as well die. You’re stupid. Why bother doing anything? You know you’ll fail. It goes on and on like that for hours, repeating the same things. Relentless, like I’m always being watched and judged. You’re pathetic. You’re ugly. Over and over.”
I know the feeling. I won’t let it control me to set up for self-hatred so profound it sometimes left me dealing with the label. Will you accept me to be part of Deaf community? I’ve told many times that I should not doing anything and set me up for failure, and judged without knowing my life stories.
Bullying: Deaf vs. Deaf is the hardest thing to deal with. I am no better either. In this time of crisis, it is Deaf leaders and Deaf community itself who hold out, by our very nature, the deepest vision of healing and peace that is possible for Deaf people including Deaf returnees. It begins in our hearts, in that place that is never separate from the living heart of ours. Am I allowed to earn empowerment that is something that begins within ourselves that finds a big mirror to reflect who we are between healing and growing pain?
Copyright © 2019 Jason Tozier
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Additional blog posts to read about suicide: