This is something that I have been angry about for months. I am finally calm enough to be able to sit down and write something about it, but I still get edgy when I remember it.
Often when the notion of suicide is brought up, many people retort with the notion that suicide is a selfish act. I do not understand the reasoning why, but if I were to guess why they’re called that I would say “because they’re leaving their family and loved ones in grief for their gain.” I stopped at the word gain because it depends on what sort of suffering the suicidal was going through at the time (depression, chronic pain, etc.). It’s one thing not to know what is driving a person into suicide and guess it’s a whim; it’s an entirely different thing when you know what ordeal the suicidal is going through yet you consider it nothing. The latter demeans the person’s experience, emotions, and priorities.
Selfish means putting oneself before others, on that we can agree. However, when it comes to suicide, we are at a dilemma. The suicidal is going through an overwhelming major ordeal. The suicidal decides to take themselves out of the equation. The surrounding individuals will be like “sorry, yeah you’re experiencing a terrible experience, but I will be sad…for a fleeting period of time.” Are we blind to recognize that if the suicidal is called selfish for wanting to take themselves out of the equation in their ordeal, the reactors are selfish for undermining the suicidal’s feelings just so they don’t feel sad? This is not undermining sadness, but we cannot condemn one side for wanting to bail out of a negative emotion they’re experiencing and approve the other side for their fear of going through a negative experience and call ourselves just. Not to mention that the condemnation is not helping the suicidal getting over the negative experience they’re going through, rather it serves as one more reason to take themselves out of the equation.
Another bizarre response to suicidals, which does not make any sense, is to call them cowards. I have no idea in what world does this make sense. I am, in fact, inclined to call it an act of bravery than an act of cowardice. Imagine willingly doing something, which for all you know, will take you out of life. We are not talking about acts of martyrdom, of which you could fantasize about being commemorated as heroes. Suicidals do not get this luxury. Suicidals are attached to a stigma. They go through the act knowing they will be looked down upon and will be carrying shame put on by the society.
Now onto what fueled my rage.
In August of 2015, the BBC Facebook page shared an interview video of Robin Williams’ widow saying that Robin is the bravest man she’s ever known. A comment that has garnered a number of likes enough to infuriate me said that he’s not brave rather he’s a coward for commiting suicide. To my knowledge, Robin Williams’ diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia was a major factor in his suicide. I don’t know if that particular commenter suffers of any disease, but I am sure that Lewy Body Dementia is not something to be belittled and its experience to be demeaned. It did not require any mastery of Google-fu to look up its symptoms and be horrified by them. Vivid hallucinations is scary enough. You probably had vivid dreams after which you experience a terrible shock once you have woken up and realized it’s a dream. In the case of this disease, it is not a dream, rather it is a constant struggle to try to discern what is real and what is a fabrication of the mind. Imagine going through your life every day questioning every single thing if it’s real or not. Another suspect of suicidal drive is depression; let’s dig into this.
Depression is real. It is not something to be belittled. It often accompanies other illnesses. I’ll take one of those illnesses (more like a symptom), chronic pain. I picked chronic pain because I can speak out of personal experience. I don’t believe I dwindled into depression or suicidal thoughts, but I had time of utter frustration and helplessness from which I can infer how others might end up with them. No one knows of this until now, but I had nights where I stayed in bed or sat in a corner of the bedroom and cried. Sometimes I go out drive around the city trying to take my mind off of it while repeatedly punching the steering wheel in pain. There were nights when I felt like going out into some woods to let out a scream (never mustered the courage to do it, though). Yes, I did have the thoughts of “why me?!” but I was also fortunate to not be driven into suicidal thoughts. Am I better than those who are going through severe chronic pain and had suicidal thoughts? No. There are many factors that induces suicidal thoughts. By mere chance I did not have them, but there are people who are unfortunate to have them. This makes me feel more like I should give them a shoulder to lean on than look down at them, but maybe it is because I have a faint understanding of what it must feel like. It must be like hell.
Let’s quit this “you are weak for having suicidal thoughts due to whatever you’re experiencing” and look after each other instead. If you’re not helping someone who’s going through suicidal phase, you’re probably the coward who’s afraid of failing and bearing the guilt of the fail. This piece is not meant to condone suicide, rather it’s meant to help understand what they are going through, be more considerate, and be more helpful.
I have come across this article and it’s worth reading: