Disclaimer: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the NL 24 Hour Crisis Line at 1-888-737-4668.
Suicide is never selfish.
I know that is a bold statement to make, but I will say it again.
Suicide is never selfish.
When devastating news hits social media about another person losing their life to suicide, sometimes it takes a lot for me to read those articles, and sometimes I can’t even click on those links at all.
It’s not because those stories resonate so deep within myself that they remind me of the hard times I have faced, but sometimes people can be unkind. Sometimes people use someone else’s death to make it a political statement, sometimes people only help fuel the stigma associated with mental illness.
Yes, when I learn of a young person that has taken their own lives, it hurts, regardless of whether I’ve known them or not, but sometimes people’s judgements about an illness that they have no understanding of makes me irrationally angry.
When I see comments like, “What a waste of life”, or “How could somebody be so selfish”, or “Don’t they realize they are hurting other people”, I feel so much hurt and anger burn inside me that I sometimes feel like throwing my laptop at the wall.
When people make comments like that they’re only encouraging others to judge people living with mental health issues. They’re encouraging the stigma that comes along with being mentally ill, and worst of all they put a profound sense of blame on the victim, not the illness.
Suicide is never selfish.
In twenty-five years of life, I have lost count of how many times I have entertained the idea of death. I have had hundreds of moments where I wanted to die. I have hidden scars on my body that reveal the hurt I felt through my abusive childhood and my struggles with PTSD. I can count on two hands how many times I have thought about swallowing a bottle of pills or taking a knife to my wrist, and very fortunately, I have had one unsuccessful suicide attempt on my own life.
When I had attempted suicide, I was barely fourteen years old. I was young child who didn’t even really understand the world yet. Hell, I had just started having my first period and started learning that you could do more than kissing with boys.
I was barely fourteen. So does that still make me selfish? Or do I get a free pass because I was so young that I “didn’t know any better”, because let me tell you, in that moment, I was anything but selfish. I was barely fourteen, but I knew the consequences of my actions. I knew how much pain I would be leaving behind. I felt such a profound sense of guilt for what I was attempting to do, but I was anything but selfish. Taking my own life wasn’t a selfish thought.
Because the abuse my father had inflicted on me on a daily basis, my shattered heart, my broken spirit, and my defeated sense of self-worth was too much to bear. I understood I would be destroying everyone I ever cared about, and unfortunately, the indescribable pain I lived with every day was far greater than that sense of guilt. Death seemed more peaceful than the torment that was inflicted on me every day. Even though I am lucky enough to still be here, that fate intervened and stopped me from turning myself into a bloody mess on the bathroom floor, there is one thing I will not say: I will not apologize for my actions.
I will not apologize for my suicide attempt. I will not apologize for those indescribable feelings I had, and frankly, I don’t need to justify them either. My failed attempt sparked a fire in me, a fire that would eventually become a force to be reckoned with years later. In that moment, not completing the act of taking my own life, I was more terrified than relieved. I was afraid someone would find out what I had tried to do. I was scared to move forward, so I carried around that heavy secret for many, many, many years.
Do I feel guilty? Some days I do, but unless you were in those moments, whether you were their witnessing someone with a knife, or a piece of rope, or a bottle of pills, no one, and I mean no one, has a right to judge. No one has the right to compare that person’s pain to something else. No one has the right to use that person’s worse moment as an opportunity to voice their judgements. It doesn’t help the person. It doesn’t help their family, and it sure as hell doesn’t help others who feel the exact same way.
So for those of you who have lost someone to suicide, who know someone who has made attempts on their life, please just remember this: They were not being selfish, and whether you choose to believe it or not, they were thinking of you in those moments of deep sadness. Many people tend to think that suicidal people never consider others’ feelings, but we do. We most absolutely do consider our loved ones, and whether that is comforting or not, sometimes insurmountable pain is harder to bear.
Sometimes the demons of our illness do win.
So today, on World Suicide Prevention Day, I will simply ask this: Please consider changing your view of suicide. Yes, it’s a terrible thing for someone to take their own life, yes it’s a pain that no one should have to suffer through, but please consider this: Please remember not to blame the victims, rather to focus on understanding the illness. Instead of pointing fingers and placing judgements on something you might not necessarily understand, please remember the person.
At the end of the day, we are all human. Sometimes we’re dealt a shitty hand of cards. Sometimes circumstances and events lead to terrible experiences and pain, and that is no one’s fault. While I do wish we lived in a world where mental health issues were better understood and better quality services were available to everyone, I still realize we have a long way to go.
So today, let’s take a few moments to spread awareness and positive vibes. Lets put harsh judgements and stigma on the shelf and try to better educate ourselves on mental health issues, to learn how to respond to people who are suicidal, and find the people to contact in a crisis situation.
I understand fully that many of you will have mixed feelings today. Maybe today’s efforts to spread awareness are because you have lost someone yourself. I know I will defiantly have moments today where I will need to take a few minutes to be alone, to process the hurt that will likely resurface, and that’s ok. It’s ok to feel sad, but it’s also ok to take those sad feelings and turn them into something good. In pain we learn to heal, and today I ask that of you.
Because suicide is never selfish.
And that is a lesson we all need to learn.
And as always,
Fight the good fight.