When a person commits suicide, the responses vary from sadness to pure ignorance. When I hear people ask “Was it that bad that they needed to end their life?” I usually want to scream YES…to that person it obviously was.
Trying to determine what caused a person to commit suicide can sometimes be impossible…because many people are just not aware of the signs leading up to that choice. Often times…when a person is depressed or suffering from some other sort of mental health issue; they’re very good at hiding it.
The following article is designed to help the ignorant person become aware of things they probably shouldn’t say regarding suicide or attempted suicide.
“They could have thought it through!”
Unless you’ve been in the position of wanting to commit suicide or even attempting it; it’s safe to say your opinion is ill informed. Depression can cloud your reasonableness. So trying to argue the semantics of what a person could have done to avoid going the route of self harm is a moot point. Mental health issues are not designed to make you think like a rational person. Ergo, rational decisions will not be made. Imagine there is someone in your ear, constantly, 24/7 telling you what a failure you are. Telling you how worthless you are. Telling you that you should have never been born. Telling you to end it all to put yourself out your misery. That folks…is the voice of depression. That is what it can feel like when you are depressed. Your mind constantly telling you that you are not worth the breath it takes to live.
“Why didn’t they just talk to someone?”
Why is the sky blue? Why is it called night time? Why is it called oxygen? Asking why a suicidal person didn’t talk to someone is pointless. We could ask why all day long…and the answer would never be satisfying. By the time a person reaches the decision to end their own life…they’re so far gone the point of wanting to talk to someone. Most people who decide to commit suicide do not announce it because they do not want to be talked out of it. They can carry on their day as calmly as any other…so as not to set off any alarms. There are signs that a person can look for however. See this article. If you’re truly concerned about a loved one, look for the subtle signs. Try talking to them; don’t wait for them to talk to you.
“Committing suicide is the coward’s way out!”
Sure it could seem like that…but you have no idea what is going through a person’s brain. Committing suicide is not about being courageous or fearful. For most people, it’s about ending the pain. A person who commits suicide is probably tired of suffering. Fighting with your own brain is EXHAUSTING. I can’t tell you how many times I considered swallowing a handful of something just so I didn’t have to get up and fight myself another day. My saving grace was not someone telling me that I would be a coward…because why would that stop anyone? Name calling? Ok. What helped was that I was blessed enough to have someone to talk me through it…and had someone supportive enough to seem me through to the psych ward. Everyone does not have that type of support. So instead of calling a person who ends their life or attempts to end their life a coward…be compassionate…and feel empathetic…and consider what torture their brain must have been inflicting on them for them to reach such a tragic decision.
“I just don’t understand!”
THIS…this statement is the only statement that is really permissible. It’s honest because most people won’t or can’t understand. If you have a relatively healthy mind you won’t be able to understand the chaotic signals of an unhealthy one. Daily…my brain plays tricks on me. Sometimes I have to really sit and think and filter out the correct thoughts from the illogical, depression induced thoughts. Depression is a suffocating…drowning feeling. So unless you have been so close to the edge you want to jump…you can’t understand. And that is ok. You can try to understand…and even if you can’t…again…have compassion. Show sympathy. Perhaps take an active interest in mental health advocacy. Whatever it is you do…don’t let judging be apart of it.
I know many people with varying types of mental health that differ from my own. While we can relate to and even understand one another; I still don’t purport to feel everything they feel. Everyone’s demons are their own. I can’t look at another person struggling with mental health and say that we feel the exact same thing. I can’t. The human mind is full of complexities from person to person. Suicide is a tragedy…for us…for those who remain behind…the family…the friends. We may want to help…we may want to save…but the truth is we can’t always. So don’t be angry…don’t be judgmental…be sad…grieve for your loss…but don’t ever…ever label someone who took their own life. They needed saving…they just couldn’t figure out how.
***If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts please contact National Suicide Prevention Lifeline