I’m going to say something that’s not necessarily popular opinion.
Suicide is not an act of selfishness.
Whoa! Whoa! Wait a minute!! What?! Suicide is the most selfish thing a person could do. All you’re thinking about is your pain, not that other people will have to do without you. It’s cowardly.
Suicide is . . . a twisted mentality. The act itself is indeed selfish, but the core of this mentality is not; in fact it is the opposite: convinced that others will be better off without you. The one suffering from this twisted mentality legitimately believes that their loved ones will benefit from their absence , that they will no longer be a burden, that others will not have to tolerate their deepening devastation. It’s twisted, it’s not thinking correctly; it’s misunderstanding everything and not knowing how to continue. It’s feeling lost and out of control. The despair is so great that it clouds all rational thought. Does this person want to hurt himself? No. This person wants to end the pain … and don’t we all? This person wants to regain control, and the twisted mentality tells you that you control if you live or die, and that death is the only way out; it gives you some semblance of control. That twisted mentality is WRONG. It’s a good thing if you cannot fathom taking your own life...be thankful that you don’t experience that type of sorrow. But I’m tired of hearing that suicide is selfish and cowardly, especially if you’ve never experienced suicidal despondency for yourself. Be thankful that you have the mental ability to understand that everything is temporary and that this tormenting anguish will pass.
So what’s the remedy? Is there one? Compassion is often the solution, not anger, intolerance, or judgement. And by using the word “intolerant” - yes, be intolerant of suicide; don’t be intolerant of people’s feelings. We can’t always control what we feel, but we can control how we react. Listening and being tolerant of feelings allows a person who is hurting to feel validated and reminds them that they are not alone; it gives them hope.
Let me be clear: suicide is never the answer; it is never a good idea, and it will not solve any problems. Your pain is not relieved, it is simply transferred to those you leave behind. And we really don’t know what’s on the other side - we have ideas and theories and beliefs - but ultimately, we have no knowledge, and seriously speaking, it could be worse. Could you imagine, offing yourself to escape all the pain you experience only to delve deeper into something worse? Suicide is never the answer. Never. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255. They also have an online chat feature.
This twisted mentality lies to you, convinces you that you’re doing the world a favor, that this is best for your family. You don’t want to inflict pain on those you love, but you feel helpless and guilty; realistically, suicide simply passes your pain to you those who are left behind. But this is mental illness; it’s not directed at anyone but self. Don’t be angry with someone who has taken their life. Let them rest in peace. Yes, you have unanswered questions, and it’s the worst...but in moving forward, be aware and mindful of others around you who may be suffering in the same way.
“A suicide victim is that-- often a victim of absolute despair from a disease.” (Read 41 Secrets of Suicide Attempt Survivors to try and understand the twisted mentality.)
Here’s some useless tidbits of advice when dealing with someone experiencing suicidal thoughts. All these things could be considered “good advice,” but when the twisted mind hears these things, it simply adds to the detrimental thought process, worsening it, and the responsive thoughts are often sarcastic and increasingly hopeless. You can say these things, but they don’t help - phrases such as...
⇨ You just need to get outside more and stop being so depressed.
◆Oh, okay, great! That was so easy. I just need to go outside more! Why didn’t I think of that?!
⇨ Don’t be so selfish. Suicide is a coward’s way out.
◆Great, because on top of all this other crap I’m feeling, now you’re adding that I’m selfish and cowardly.
⇨ Do something you enjoy. Hang out with friends, laugh more.
◆Do you think that I haven’t tried this already? I’ve tried everything!
⇨ Don’t get so stuck in your head! Think of your family.
◆My family is better off not having to deal with me.
◆It doesn’t mean that I don’t love my family
⇨You just need…….(insert random, trite advice here)
◆You don’t know what’s in my head, you don’t know what I need.
“The mind totally shuts down in the act of self-harm or attempted suicide. I wish people understood that saying, ‘Think of your family/friends’ doesn’t work because there is no thinking going on.” The suicidal mind is twisted, jumbled into a cloud of misery and defeatism.
I wish we could approach this disparaging issue with more compassion instead of anger. “Anger is a punishment we give ourselves in response to someone else’s mistake.” As hurt as you are, what good does it do you to be angry? Try to come out of your anger. This is not about you.
Do you really want to help? Do you really want to reduce the number of suicides? Or do you just want to be mad at people for being selfish? If you really want to see others free from their suffering, SHOW MORE COMPASSION. Tolerate the feelings of others.
When you condemn someone for suicidal ideation, you feed the bleak hopelessness of this twisted mentality and add to the feeling of worthlessness. Stop being offended. Seek to understand, not to be understood. Exude compassion, not judgment. When you give up your ego, your spirit takes over and emits love...and love is a huge element of healing; and in doing so, you are showing them a real-life example of what they think is nonexistent.
*I’m not asking you to accept, condone, agree with, or anything...I’m asking you to listen, to love, to be compassionate, seek to understand, and give encouragement to those in need.
A little personal bit about me . . .when I told my family that I’d struggled with suicidal ideation, (empath disclaimer: The suicidal ideation I experienced was attributed to my inner empath; not that I myself was actually suicidal. . . I was absorbing so much negativity around me, that death seemed to be the only way out. Thankfully, I know better now.) their response floored me. They didn’t ask what they could do to help. They didn’t express sympathy. They didn’t show me compassion. Rather, they were offended at my twisted mentality. Well, it is an offensive mentality, but they focused on how selfish it would be to take my own life away from them. It almost felt like disgusted apathy. I thought that was selfish of them, actually, to be so offended by the pain that I was experiencing. They made my experience about themselves. So who’s selfish now?
Now, the person who commits suicide isn’t affected by your anger; though you are hurt, take your own ego out of it. Yes, the suicidal person should also take ego out of the picture, but you don’t have control over them. You only have control over yourself, your actions, behaviors, reactions, etc. What does it benefit you to be angry at this person who is now gone? How does your anger affect the loved ones left behind?
Instead of being angry, intolerant, or judgmental, remove yourself from the equation and seek to understand. Those who are suicidal need your love, not your judgment, not your harsh words, not your belittlement of how selfish they are. They already feel terrible. Telling them how selfish they are doesn’t help. Check your own selfishness first, because no matter how good your intentions, these insults compound the pain you’re attempting to ease.
Suicidal thoughts should never be encouraged or tolerated, but they should also never be judged with your ego. Remove your ego and replace it with your spirit; seek to understand instead of being understood; put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
It’s easy to judge. It’s more difficult to understand. Understanding requires compassion, patience, and a willingness to believe that good hearts sometimes choose poor methods. Through judging, we separate. Through understanding, we grow.
We are stronger together. When you judge, not only do you evoke separation, you also silence the other person, telling them that not only are they suffering, but that they’re a terrible person ON TOP of all they are suffering. They’re already ashamed, and you keep saying how selfish they are, (s)he won’t call you when they really do need help.
Instead of “You’re selfish!” think “What can I do to help? How can I ease your pain? How can I make life less difficult for you?”
“Can’t say it enough...Many people think that a suicide attempt is a selfish move because the person just does not care about the people left behind. I can tell you that when a person gets to that point, they truly believe that their loved ones will be much better off with them gone. This is mental illness not selfishness. TRUTH: Depression is a terrible disease and seems relentless. A lot of us have been close to that edge or have dealt with family members in a crisis. Let’s look out for each other and stop sweeping mental illness under the rug.”
COMPASSION IS THE ULTIMATE EXPRESSION OF YOUR HIGHEST SELF.”
What exactly does compassion entail? It’s more than just being nice; it’s a commitment to lessen the burden of the one suffering. The best way you can show compassion and understanding to someone is to listen. Just listen. Active listening is a big part of compassion. It reminds them that you are absorbing the information being shared, rather than just waiting for your turn to talk. Accept their feelings. Be kind. Don’t judge. Pick up the phone, send a text, answer the call. Be affectionate, touch- if welcome and when appropriate. Remind them of the goodness within themselves. Love unconditionally. And include yourself in that compassion. Show them how.
Now that you have this information, what will you do with it?
Some of you will be disgruntled - you will balk and tell me I’m wrong, remind me how selfish suicide is, and become even more angry.
Some of you will read this and accept a role to play in this vexed mentality, and you will provide compassion and understanding to those in need.
Some of you will cease your own attempts to end your life, because you won’t feel like this forever.
Some of you will reach out to someone you know is on that edge and save a life.
(Read 24 Real Ways to Help Someone Who Is Suicidal.)
Sometimes someone isn’t ready to see the bright side. Sometimes they need to sit with the shadows first. So be a friend, and sit with them; make the darkness beautiful.