A Note on Suicide

[Apologies in advance if this hurts my friends and family but I need to say it.]

There is a lot of discussion about suicide at the moment for obvious reasons. How it’s selfish. How people suffering from depression need to remember they are loved. Much of the latter is heartfelt and well meant. But.

I’ve struggled with depression. Struggled with suicidal thoughts. And yes, before my medication, I often thought my family would be better off without me. But now, when it happens, my main, overwhelming, sometimes only thought, if it can be called thought, is I want the pain to end. That’s all.

Perhaps that is selfish. But unless you’ve lived with a battle in your brain most of your adult life, you can’t really judge.

If someone going through chemo just wants it all to be over, you wouldn’t judge. And for many at least there is an end in sight. My depression is mild and mostly controlled, but even I sometimes can’t imagine living with it for another forty or fifty years.

So don’t judge, not even in kindness. Don’t tell people with depression to ‘think of their loved ones and how much they are needed’ because that IS selfish. How can being needed, being required to get up every day and give to others, when you are struggling just to breathe, lessen your pain?

It must be horrible to be on the outside. I’ve spoken to people who have lost family members to depression (and that’s what it is, succumbing to an illness). It’s awful. Just as losing someone suddenly to a heart attack or a brain tumour or septicaemia is awful.

And there is always the ‘what if’? I have it. I was meant to be staying with my father the weekend he died, rushed to hospital with septicaemia. What if I had been there? Would we have reacted sooner? Saved him? And that’s as valid for suicide I guess. Medical intervention might have helped. But telling a person they are loved, needed, required, precious, selfish, or anything else AT THAT POINT, I believe would be no more effective than it would to tell someone to stop having a heart attack.

I would love to end this with an answer, a right way to help sufferers of depression. I don’t have one. Except actions speak louder than words. For me, the friends that showed up and put the kettle on, watched the kids for an hour, walked the dog, those were the ones who helped me survive PND. Don’t wait for the sufferer to ask for help. Often they can’t, the darkness won’t let them. Take a risk and just show up. And above all, don’t judge.

2 thoughts on “A Note on Suicide

  1. Amen to all of that. I read an article once about a family who’d lost a kid to suicide relatively young – I think he was in his early 20s – and his surviving brother said that of course he missed him but that he understood, that his brother, ‘stayed as long as he could.’

    Perhaps it’s a factor of other non depression sufferers own lack of self esteem when they show strength and resolve in the shit! It’s usually a case of, ‘if I got through after [insert scenario here] why can’t they?’ Just as I know a couple of self-made people who think that the incredible things they’ve achieved must be easy if … well … they could do it.

    I’ve never had depression but I’ve had friends and colleagues who do. And yes, sometimes when they won’t come out, or want to be left alone it can hurt a bit, but when it does, I try to tell myself that they’re probably hurting a lot more than me.

    Loved the advice. I will remember it.

    Cheers

    MTM

  2. Thank you. We all have our own shit. I could never deal with what you have to. The world needs a bit more empathy and attempt to see the world through others’ eyes. Maybe we all need to read more books and watch less reality TV!

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