Unpopular opinion: suicide is not a selfish act and if you say/believe that it is, you are the selfish person.
Now, if you can swallow the ignorant reply that is trying to come out of your mouth right now, sit back and listen for a moment, because the people who have killed themselves might not have a voice, but I do and I am angry at the shit living people say about the dead.
Depression is a sad, sad thing and it kills people. Depression is an illness and just because it kills people by causing them to take their own lives it does not make those deaths any less significant than say, someone who dies of cancer.
I have depression and have since I was very young. I didn’t know what it was, or why I felt the way I did for a long time, but I’ve learned more about my illness over the years and how to cope with it. I have contemplated suicide, but never attempted. That is called suicide ideation, which is very different than actually attempting or committing suicide.
Here I am going to try to shed some light on why some people commit suicide and what they go through leading up to that decision.
Starting with what depression is like.
Depression is waking up everyday and not wanting to get out of bed because there is no point to your life. Even if there is, your brain tells you “nope, you’re wrong, nothing you do will ever matter, you should just lay here instead.” Depression is your brain saying over and over “no one loves you no one loves you no one loves you if they say they love you they’re lying because they don’t actually know how worthless you are. By the way, you’re worthless you’re worthless you’re worthless you’re worthless.” Depression is making art and hating it, but loving it, but also hating it and your brain telling you that your art is worthless too. You’re worthless.
It does not matter what people say to you. Even the best support by the most loving person is just another thing depression can tell you isn’t true. That either they are lying, or they don’t understand you well enough to know that they should support or love you. When someone in your life hurts or kills themselves, you cannot blame yourself. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how loving or supportive you are, depression can and will block that all out.
Some people take medication and it helps, some people take medication and it doesn’t help. Some people take medication and they kill themselves because they suddenly have the energy and motivation to do so when their depression kept them from it before. Some people self medicate with drugs, alcohol, etc, other people self medicate with hobbies.
Some people kill themselves.
Suicide is never a selfish act. When a person commits suicide, most of the time they don’t believe that their lives have enough of an impact to matter. Most depressed people believe that everyone around them is better off without them. It does not matter if this is true or not. This is what their depression tells them. For the suicidal person, they have been told over and over by their own brain that if they die, no one will care and/or their family and friends will be better off without them.
I’ve been there. I have been so close to the edge that I could taste it. I self medicated with self harm and that kept me from stepping over that edge. I have lived through dark moments where I thought how wonderful it would be to never have to wake up again because waking up is hard. There were nights that I locked myself in the bathroom of my apartment while my sister was in bed texting a friend and cut myself until my skin went numb. The emptiness inside of me made me want to scream, but I couldn’t let her know anything was wrong. So I cut myself to feel something other than the yawning nothingness that stretched out inside of me. Every day I used to wake up and wonder why I couldn’t be normal, why I couldn’t care like other people did. I went through the motions with my friends, pretending that I was having fun, getting drunk enough that I could fool myself into having fun. I partied three or four nights out of the week just to convince myself I was fine, then on the nights I didn’t go out, I talked to strangers online that I didn’t care about just to keep myself from being alone, because if I was alone, I would let myself die.
Everyone experiences depression differently. Some people are depressed and never want to kill themselves, some people are like me and want to die but never attempt suicide, some people attempt to and survive, other people commit suicide to end their own suffering and the suffering that they believe they are causing everyone around them.
Depression (unless you live with it) is not about you, it is about the person dealing with it and their feelings. When a person commits suicide it is not about you. Yes, you are allowed to be upset, yes when someone influential or close to you commits suicide, it affects you, but it is not about you. It is about them and what they were going through.
All of this being said, we can never truly know what another person was thinking when they decide to kill themselves. Even when they leave a note, we can never really understand their reasons unless we have gone through exactly what they have.
What we can do is encourage those who need help to seek it. We can ask “What can I do to help you?” rather than give advice on how to deal with depression (especially those of you who have never experienced it). We can do our research and understand that “being sad” isn’t the only symptom of depression so that we know what signs to look for. We can listen and be sympathetic rather than assuming someone is crying out for attention. And even if someone is crying out for attention, it’s because THEY PROBABLY NEED IT.
When someone commits suicide, we can mourn. We can remind ourselves that it’s not our fault that their illness took them from us. We can support their family and friends, and ask ourselves what we need to do better for the people in our lives to help them through their struggles.
It’s okay to be angry, to be sad, to not understand why someone would leave like that, but it’s not okay to speak irreverently of a human life that was destroyed by their mental illness.
Instead of throwing around words like “selfish” and “waste of life” lets be more understanding, even with the things we don’t understand.