Suicide - not always the selfish choice.

I've heard a lot of people say that suicide is a selfish choice, that the person isn't thinking of the pain they cause those behind. *

In my experience, that's a lot of bullshit. I've known people who were suicidal, who have attempted, and a few who have actually done it. The vast majority of them felt like they were a burden on their loved ones and that their loved ones would be better off without them. They felt so alone that they didn't think they'd be missed all that much, or that their loss would hurt all that much.

Well, they were wrong. There's no dispute about that. But suicidal tendencies, by their very nature, necessitate some cognitive distortions. It'd be selfish if they knew they were hurting people, and did it anyway. That's not the case. They believe that their existence is causing people pain, so they are committing the unselfish act of removing themselves from the presence of others, to ease their burden. It's misguided, but they're not exactly thinking coherently.

You know, I've been there. I've sat on my parents' bed with a gun in my hand. (My stepdad was a police officer - he kept the gun hidden, but not well enough. Fortunately for me, he kept the ammo very well hidden.) I've thought that there was no other way out of this pain, and that my continued presence was just dragging down everyone around me. I can see clearly now that this is so much bullshit, but at the time it was like a mantra, and I was incapable of being introduced to new information. People say suicide is a choice. It's not much of one when you're deep in depression. It feels like a choice between peacefully laying on the beach or wrestling wild alligators. That's no choice, that's a certainty. Who the fuck would willingly pick alligators?

I don't have the solutions to suicide. I just don't think it makes sense to demonize the victim by saying that he/she is selfish and (by inference) stupid to have made that choice.

*Generally, these are people who haven't ever been pushed to the edge.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't know how anyone could disagree with you about the selfish, or not, element of it. Writing it off as only a selfish act is an oversimplification that avoids any meaningful discussion, and possible education, about the situation that lead up to the final act.

Something else about suicide that I feel is grossly mislabeled is the idea that it is a cowardly act. I don't associate any level of positivism to it, but if there is one act in this mortal world that isn't cowardly, it is suicide. Whether faithful or not, we don't know what happens afterwards. From eternal damnation to nothingness, I'll never be convinced that it doesn't involve an uncanny amount of courage to commit suicide. Going back to your argument, courage, by common definition, might not be the proper term if the person is in an unhealthy state of being, but nevertheless, it might very well be THE ultimate gamble.