> Red believed that, in most cases, one decides to begin a degree in psychology for two core reasons: to help themselves and/or to help other people; every further motive can be reduced to one of these. The problem is, during those six years of study, a future psychologist who has always aspired to pursue a different career than psychotherapy, may forsake the former and be seduced by the latter… only because of a way fatter pay-cheque. And thus, the desire to help is overcome by the longing to be rich.

Red had already realized that the money path didn’t fit in with himself, but even his original one didn’t fit in anymore: the wish to expand the knowledge of the brain. Yes, he might have been somewhat useful to his species, but he now wanted to take better care of its human side. The bikepacking journey was planned to help himself, so he should have devised something else to help back.

A natural thought pulled Red in its direction: society isn’t doing enough for all the people struggling against suicidal ideation. It is trying to do something about widespread problems like homophobia, bullying, sexual and gender-based violence, youth unemployment, chronic illness; it is trying to do something about mental disorders like depression, substance abuse, anorexia. But what society is really failing to do, is to recognize the possible outcome of those reasons and of a billion more, all whys that will remain buried forever. Who knows, maybe the shame of not meeting expectations, or the fear of the future, or the pain of being alone, or the feeling of not mattering to the world… all kinds of suffering.

Red knew that the media limit the news on suicides to avoid triggering contagion and emulation cases, but what really makes the difference is not their quantity; it’s their quality. If many suicide stories were shown in a glamorous manner, they would be dangerous. On the contrary, if they were portrayed in a respectful way, they would represent a great occasion to raise awareness about the support network available.

Sadly, the Italian media couldn’t promote such resources even if they wanted, because… they do not exist. No prevention projects, no 24/7 crisis hotline, no specific programs for the survivors of suicide attempts nor for the families of suicide victims, nothing provided for by the national health service, nothing. Yes, there are a few private non-profit organizations, but Red himself didn’t feel he would have trusted them.

The current effect of this policy, or lack thereof, is neglect: when one tries to commit suicide and survives, they are taken to the hospital, hopefully. Here, some clinicians treat physical injuries and others handle mental health; this usually means that there are plenty of specialists focusing on complex surgeries and/or treatments, whereas there’s a psychiatrist (who sometimes consult with a psychologist) handing out some medications. Just after the patient’s discharge, the medical team redirects them to a psycho-social centre, a place where they would meet a new psychiatrist who would refine their pharmacotherapy over time; there, at last, they could talk with a psychologist to commence a psychotherapy as well. And here it lies the huge issue: in the end, nobody knows if this one will have really gone to that centre or somewhere else instead… perhaps to seek better help; perhaps to attempt it again.

Thus, a prevention-care-rehabilitation pathway, already incomplete from the beginning, may not even see its ending. Thus, a life story may be forever lost into the oblivion of time.

A society that is failing beautiful people is a falling society, this Red believed. Something needed to change. As his second act, he put all the pieces together: he wanted the psychology ward to start a pilot project on suicide prevention in schools, crowdfunded via an online campaign. In the hope of increasing its exposure, he booked his journey to Iceland so that it would have straddled the 10th of September, the World Suicide Prevention Day. These two entangled stories would have found home on a new born website.

So, after seven months of near-absolute isolation from the outside world, Red went back to the hospital to meet with the director of the ward and ask her if she was interested in the project he was working on. Not only was she, but she also put him in touch with a doctor from the surgery ward, who had lost his teenage son to suicide few years earlier; maybe he would have joined the project too. She was not wrong at all.

Bolstered by that double approval, Red did not wait any longer and finally shared the dream with all his friends, who were also Green’s. Everyone has been supportive and some of them have even offered him brilliant new ideas for fulfilling it. Red was very happy with their initial response, because alone he would have been a lunatic, but with each other they could have been a movement.

“I hope I won’t be left by myself, when the time to be together comes.”


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Vincenzo Rampolla

    Everyday is the time to be together, Niccolò. You don’t need the approval of anybody. What only is necessary is the confidence in yourself and in your driving force, together with that in your project and finally in the wish to become a spell-binder. I have being reading your story few times in order to fully catch the core, and I feel that the day you will cross me you will be astonished to find a clone. Yes a clone, white haired and 2.8 times your age, with a scientific spirit, the fire inside and the deep sentiment to share my 15 years of experience around the world with suicide and attempts to suicides that it’s time to share not with somebody, with you: practically, simply, really the aim being to “save the other”. Call me when you will be back on my cell phone or write to my mail address. Avoid Facebook or other public sites. To shake hand you should be a pleasure.
    Shalom Yom Kippur.

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