Please read blog at above link. really well written. this was sent to me by my partner this morning. I had ranted and raved the prior evening about a seemingly benign Facebook post. I occasionally write a comment about what is going on in the world, or a response to the evening news. This night was no different. In the wake of the shooting at the mall in NJ a reporter was interviewing the brother. His words, paraphrased, were something along the lines of “he chose this self indulgent act”. Interesting choice of words. Of course every little cell in my body became a bit angry. It seems the programmed, canned response to most suicides, but especially the go out in a rain of bullets sort. I wrote a quick status on my FB that I thought his words were an odd choice for a grieving sibling. I’m not alone in that since others wrote they too felt it an odd choice. That is before all the ruckus started. Guess I hit a nerve. I know suicide is a tough topic. Needless to say a cacophony of “Selfish”, “self centered”, “cowards” erupted across my newsfeed. Hmmm. Clearly the night wasn’t going to get any better. A few posts:
Suicide is the ultimate act of self centeredness it doesnt take into consideration the impact it will have on others upon completion of it. It is never the solution it is the cowards way out – speaking from experience and training as a medical professional in the mental health arena
Actually, its a very selfish act !
The most selfish thing anyone can do-
Yeah I heard that interview too, I thought he just couldnt find the right word. I too find it strange that its been documented that public suicide is an act of self indulgence. I dont think each suicide and the reason for it can be lumped into the same category. Such as those being bullied and jumping off a bridge or the mass school/mall/theater/airport shooter and the man who lost everything and just cannot go on alone. Are any of these people thinking about the impact of who they are leaving behind? Dont you think their despair doesnt allow them to have compassion and empathy for others at this point? I think being selfish is a conscious decision and people at this point are incapable of feeling selfish.
My daughter and Mother have both attempted suicide so yes this is a personal response from me ( thank goodness neither was successful)- My response “And did you call your daughter a coward?”
Yes Beth as a matter of fact i did tell my daughter that if it only affected her then that would be one thing but to please write a letter to her 2 yr old daughter explaining why she did it….know what? She couldnt write that letter to my grandaughter
Another person joins the mix
I think suicide is like a giant fuck you to everyone who ever cared about that person. Grow up, and get over yourself, it’s only cute to blame your parents until you turn 18, everyone has problems you go on. I will never forgive my mother for SELFISHLY committing suicide, because I was the one who had to look at both my younger sisters (13 and 16) and tell them what our mother had done. It broke my heart to have them ask me why and not have any explanation to give them. And FYI: yeah I did the right thing and I quit college and worked 2 jobs to take care of my sisters. So yeah I think it’s an asshole thing to do. I understand people suffer, but YOU never forgive yourself and you feel guilty because of their choice.
So screw that weak stuff, I lost both my grandmother, mother, and stepfather to suicide. Every time I have to go to a new doctor and fill out the info sheet, I get asked about if I feel depressed. I don’t. I love life, I learned to make my life something I wanted. I am sorry if I sound course or offensive, but you don’t know how it feels until you are the one talking to the coroner.
Here she backs off a little. I lost a close friend who suffered from schizophrenia, I never considered that suicide, I felt it was the illness that killed him, as he wasn’t in touch with reality at the time of his death. He truly believed demons were after him.
I too have lost a few to suicide. I never felt them to be selfish, I knew they were hurting, but never thought they were hurting THAT BAD! I carried some guilt, because I didnt call enough. Now, my at risk person, I dont lose contact with.
Selfish…..mmmm… a true example of a selfish action is not wearing a helmet on a horse because IT IS A CHOICE and it really doesn’t take into consideration the family you leave behind or the ones who will be changing your adult diapers or feeding your crippled butt! Suicide and depression are not choices any sane or insane person makes. Infact, It is an action taken when someone can not see any more choices or options in front of them. I’ve spent more than 50% of my life battling depression and it is not a something I would ever choose to do!
I have lost two good friends to suicide and two good friends to accidental death. They both felt the same to me, it hurts to the bone. However the families of the suicide people, somehow don’t see it that way. One family doesn’t even acknowledge that it happened. I really don’t understand that logic. When someone dies in a horrible accident, the first question is “Did they suffer”? Society doesn’t even think that question of a suicide death. Some yahoo goes on the news and says “selfish”. I think trying to be their for someone without judgment can help, but it’s no cure.
and back to the angry writer:
My mother knew exactly what she was doing, she kept saying how wrong it was in her goodbye letter to me. Her actions were selfish. I have been depressed, and I MADE a CHOICE to do something about it. And as for riding with or without a helmet, my will clearly states what my wishes are concerning major brain damage. No one chooses to suffer from depression, but they do choose how they react to it. I didn’t choose to have RA, but I do choose my reaction to it. I choose to be grateful for the mobility I still have, the same way those who have depression choose to keep fighting. I empathize with them, but don’t condone suicide, when you choose that you let negativity steal everything positive about you. You are given just one shot at this life, I made a choice to see the good in my life, granted some days were harder then others, but I saw those days through. I don’t judge my mother, I miss her, but she was better then the choice she made.
So where does that leave us? Is suicide always a choice, and therefore selfish by design? If it is a symptom of a disease, severe mental illness, is it still selfish? Is it cowardly? If we want that argument to hold water you must take it one step further. If bipolar individuals die by suicide at a far greater rate than the general population are they then to be considered more cowardly than others? In the midst of severe clinical depression are our choices and decisions rational? If they are not, and are distorted and skewed by the disease does that allow a choice to be considered selfish? If we consider a suicide death in a mentally ill individual just the endpoint of a disease that has run its course can we truly judge it and apply labels like “selfish”, cowardly. etc.
I have such mixed feelings. I personally don’t think it is cowardly, nor selfish. I felt the blog I linked to in the first line speaks so well of this. She draws the comparison to cancer (as she has just finished tx for breast cancer). When you lose the battle with cancer people celebrate your battle and comment on just how hard you fought (these are her words, not mine). When you lose the battle with mental illness it is very different. Just as when you are diagnosed. People come out of the woodwork to support you. they send cards, emails, casseroles. There are no casseroles for bipolar.
It is in the end an incurable disease that is potentially life threatening, just as cancer is. But we are judged, criticized and shunned. Cannot imagine someone doing that to a friend with cancer. But sadly it probably happens as well. What I can say is it happens all too often with mental illness. We wear out our friends and loved ones. Our ever-changing moods and extreme behavior at times try the strongest of supporters. I know why bipolars die more than the rest. All too often they end up alone. All their bridges burned and those still standing are so ravaged by the relationship they are precarious at best. I am so blessed to have a partner as solid as mine. But I know I push her to the outer limits of what she can endure. It feels terrible knowing that. I know it doesn’t end here and that we have years more of this ahead. I cannot even fathom walking this path without her. All I could think of the other night was that poor woman’s daughter being told she was a coward. Probably at one of the lowest points in her life and that is how she was treated by her mother. It is sickening. More sickening is that person is supposedly in the mental health field. I think of all the people struggling and dying because of a stigma so harsh it is often the reason for silence. It is the reason people don’t reach out to one another, either for help or to help. A friend of the mall shooter said he had been really paranoid for weeks. She just stopped responding. And so the young man lost another bridge. Most likely a long list of relationships strained, and lost till finally he walked into a mall and shot himself in the head. Alone. In a closet. That is what our society has done. What if people showed up with casseroles and cards when you were diagnosed with mental illness? What if they checked in all the time to see if you were ok? what if they proudly ran 5K each weekend in support? what if they all donned some meaningful color shirt and stood together to find “the cure”? They don’t. they’d won’t. It just doesn’t work like that. To most of the population depression isn’t a disease it is a choice. A weakness of character. A flaw of being. We, with mental illness are selfish and cowardly. If only we tried harder. If only we shrugged it off and pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps. We can’t and so we hide in plain sight without letting others know who and what we are. That is what is wrong. We are not the problem. We are just the ones suffering alone and silent.