Today I want to address a topic that will make many people uncomfortable. Good. That's half the point. After the world lost Chester Bennington last year, I have often thought about how people view suicide. It's one of those subjects no one wants to bring up but everyone suddenly has an opinion on if you do. I'm here to give everyone a few pointers from the ugly side of it.
I am in no way
condoning suicide, here. The point of this post is to show others what
sort of thoughts might run through the mind of a suicidal person.
Is Suicide Selfish?
I often hear the opinion that people who commit suicide are selfish because they left their loved ones behind to suffer. I can see how people might feel that way. The person's suffering is over but their family and friends' suffering has just begun. I mean, we aren't stupid, we know people will mourn us. Here's the thing though: we think you are better off without us here.
Seriously. People suffering from suicidal thoughts often feel like a burden to those around them. Not only do we hate ourselves and wish we weren't here, we wish you didn't have to put up with us. People like myself who suffer from anxiety and depression will often stop talking to friends and family because we a) Can't handle seeing people on the regular, b) Are embarrassed about how we act when we are with you, and/or c) Honestly think you don't need to waste your time on us. Sometimes we can't deal with everyday stuff like getting a shower. Answering the phone. Washing a load of clothes. Because of this, we feel like we are an embarrassment to some people. Hell, maybe we are to some.
When thoughts turn to suicide, often we figure everyone will cry a bit but get over it because, hello, aren't we just a waste of space anyway? Isn't everyone around us better off if we aren't bringing them down? Does that make us selfish? Here's a question: are you being selfish for wanting us to stay? Why would you want us to keep suffering?
Again, I'm not condoning suicide. These are just thoughts I have had before. So please don't tell a suicidal person that they are being selfish. We already hate ourselves, that is in no way helping. You don't call an ambulance for the injured guy on the sidewalk while you're still kicking him in the ribs.
Find Things to Live For!
Oh, I can't tell you how many times I have heard this phrase. I need to stay around for my kids. (See above for my answer to that one.) I need to stay around for my writing. For my family. I need to find a new hobby that makes me happy. I need to search my soul or something and find a reason to stick around.
First of all, if it was that simple, I'm pretty sure it would be all rainbows and sunshine up in here. I honestly don't know how to just "be happy." I have moments of happiness here and there, but I'm not a genuinely happy person. So focusing on one thing to keep me happy is a ridiculous notion. Happiness by itself is not the issue. Finding love or loving someone else is not the issue. Outside things don't make you happy. You make you happy. Until I can love myself, it doesn't matter if I am loved or love someone else. A person, an object, a career, or a hobby are not going to change how I feel about myself. They may provide some insight and guide me on my journey, true, but throwing that in my face when I venture to speak to you about suicide does not provide some immediate "cure" to my problems. There is no cure. There is only learning how to deal with my inner demons and hopefully learning to like myself as I am.
This one isn't used as often these days, but I still hear it sometimes. They cut themselves for attention. She just hated that she wasn't getting the attention that her sibling was. Blah, blah, blah. If you think someone is hurting themselves for attention, then it would be pretty obvious. They would plan it so they would get caught before anything fatal happened. This does not mean that their cry for help is not unwarranted. This is no reason to be an asshole and talk down to them. For all you know, this was a warning shot. Next time could be the last.
If someone is trying to give you a heads up in any way, however subtle, about wanting to take their life, listen. For the love of nature, listen. Unfortunately, people tend to think suicidal people are over-dramatic so they don't take our words seriously. Actually, we are kind of over-dramatic. We tend to feel things deeper. Our emotions rule us. Small incidents can become huge ordeals in our minds. One tiny thing can have us sobbing or freaking out. Our mental illnesses can make us into "drama queens."
Take us seriously.
If we reach out, please let us talk and don't try to downplay our problem. You should feel honored that we trust you enough to reach out in the first place. It's when we are shrugged off that someone finds us covered in blood in a bathroom tub. It's when we are talked down to that our body hurtles to the ground from the top of a building. It's when we have no one to turn to at all that we are found hanging from a fan.
Again, the purpose of this post is to make others aware of some of the hard truths about how suicidal people tend to think. If you are suicidal, please try to talk to someone. I know how hard it is, trust me. Reaching out is one of the hardest things you can do at a low point in your life. Do it anyway. Talking does help.
If you know someone who may be suicidal, please offer an ear to them. Keep yourself in their life. If they try to push you away, don't let them. Call them, even if they never call you. Visit them randomly. Remind them that they are important.
Good luck in this crazy life, everyone.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA): 1-800-273-8255