I’m going to write a little about suicide now; I’m not considering it (well, I’m not considering doing it, but I am considering it as a topic, obviously, since I’m writing about it), but the hows and whyfors of suicide have been on my mind for the last few days. It’s not surprising, I suppose, given what happened with Alice, but it is a tough topic to talk about.
First, let me say that I have some understanding of how it feels to lose someone to suicide. Alice was a friend of mine, and it hurts to know that she’s gone. I don’t make friends easily, and so I like to keep the ones I have around for as long as possible, even if we aren’t always close. It’s not the same as losing a father, mother, brother, sister, son, or daughter, but I care very deeply for my friends. There’s a hole in my life now, and I don’t know how to fill it up again; I suppose time will do that, but the grief is still very fresh.
But I also know what it is like to feel suicidal. I’ve been there twice. And it is a terrifying place to be. I don’t know what it is like for people with other mental illnesses, or people whose lives have just gotten so unbearable that they feel death is the best way to go, but I know with depression there is literally a part of my mind trying to convince me that my life is so bad, that I am so pathetic, so meaningless, so worthless, so hopeless that ending my life is the best way out. I know that people find it hard to believe that things can be so bad, and in reality, the actual parts of life probably aren’t so bad. But your mind has the ability to change the way you perceive things, and so for someone with depression, like me, a minor problem – a boss makes a minor reprimand, a bad grade, missing an appointment – seems like a monumental calamity. Have enough of those happen to you, and it just seems too painful to go on.
I have seen and heard a lot of people say that suicide is selfish – that the person trying, or succeeding, is only considering themselves, not the people they leave behind. But I can say that, in my case, and I imagine in many other cases, that’s not true. It may seem selfish to others, but for us, our brains have gotten us so convinced that life is terrible, that we are pathetic and hopeless, that we are absolutely certain that our being dead will be a blessing to the people who are left – that we mean so little, and we bring so much pain and gloom to those around us, that our loss is practically a gain. So while it may be seen as selfish, the people trying – or succeeding – to kill themselves aren’t trying to be selfish. They don’t want to leave pain and misery behind for the people who care about them – they just don’t think there will be any.
I also have heard people talk about how the victims of suicide aren’t worth grieving for, because their problems weren’t so bad – there are people who live with worse problems, and they don’t kill themselves, after all. But to those people, I say (well, here; if I met one in person, I’d probably punch them) – how do you know how bad their problems are? Granted, I know my problems, when I was considering, and trying, suicide, weren’t all the big, on the grand scheme of things. I wasn’t starving, or being tortured (not physically, anyway), or being shot at. But I felt like I had nowhere to go. Every decision I made, just made things worse. I felt so crushingly sad, so abjectly hopeless, and so wracked by emotional pain that even deciding whether or not to shower in the morning was like running a marathon with broken glass in my shoes. My problems weren’t that bad, no, but my brain made me think that they were. It hurt so much, and I felt so alone (even though I know now that I wasn’t), and I felt like there was no help, no hope. And it broke me. Luckily for me, I didn’t succeed, and I found a way to manage my illness, to make my mind behave. Many people aren’t so lucky.
So I don’t begrudge that choice. I don’t know what Alice was thinking, or how badly she felt, when she decided to end her life. But while I wish that I could change it somehow, that she was still here, that my friend was still alive, I don’t think that she did anything she didn’t feel the need to do. I’m sure she had a reason, or several reasons, and while they might not make sense to me, or anyone else, they made sense to her – and the way we perceive things is really what matters here.