Jamie has been a writer and a survivor of depression and anxiety for the last 20 years. Her passion is to support and encourage others.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) has presented trending information that shows suicide is, sadly, a growing trend in the United States. The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that the prevalence of suicide is a worldwide issue that also appears to be growing.
A lot of media outlets have gone out of their way to romanticize or validate suicide. The film Seven Pounds depicted suicide as a selfless act that was meant to absolve the title character of a horrible accident he caused years ago. The Netflix show 13 Reasons Why revolved around the main character's suicide and how it was just the results of 13 individuals' decisions that affected her. However, the nuances about mental health are either completely fabricated or extended to unreal visions.
The purpose of this article is not to romanticize suicide or promote it as a great option people should be taking. I believe suicide is awful, has long reaching effects, and needs to be publicly addressed in the mental health field.
Editors note: If you're experiencing suicidal thoughts or are in crisis, you can get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline.
To Be Looked Down Upon
One of the saddest things regarding the subject of suicide is the stigma surrounding it. Many times people are automatically directed to a train of thought such as 'Oh, they were just weak', 'They couldn't handle it', or 'They must have wanted to die or they wouldn't have done it.' And even more, if people try to talk about feelings that they have, they're dismissed with 'Just suck it up', 'Person X has it so much worse than you, what do you have to be sad about' or the cruelest 'Go ahead and do it, then'. These are not sentiments designed to help a person considering suicide.
Mental illness is an illness. That's what it is. The brain for whatever reason has become sick and not able to function at the typical level that most brains do. But no other illness is treated with the dismissal, derision or outright antagonistic viewpoints that mental illness is.
If a cancer patient succumbs to cancer, no one looks down on that person. No one says "Oh, they must have wanted to go, or else they would have fought longer." No one says "They were weak and couldn't handle their cancer." So why do we do it when a person suffering a mental illness kills themselves?
People treat suicide as a revolving-door solution that had to have been "just so easy" to come up with. Indeed, suicide is often referred to as "taking the easy way out." Even people wanting to help people struggling with suicidal thoughts send out these cliché thoughts of "It'll get better, just wait!" or "You have so much to live for!"—as if these sound bites do anything to help the sufferer.
“People pontificate, "Suicide is selfishness." Career churchmen... go a step further and call it a cowardly assault on the living... Cowardice is nothing to do with it - suicide takes considerable courage... No, what's selfish is to demand another to endure an intolerable existence, just to spare families, friends, and enemies a bit of soul-searching.”
— David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
Sometimes the Rope Breaks
The first thing I said in this article was 'suicide is a terrible thing'. And it is. It's terrible that people have to get to that point before help will even be considered. But just because someone has considered or attempted suicide does not make them weak. It does not make them selfish. It does not make them an inferior human being.
What it does make them is a person struggling with this internal affliction that few people even understand, that fought for as long as they could, as hard as they could and simply couldn't fight any longer. Like the cancer patient using drugs, radiation, therapy, and support whose body couldn't take it anymore, when suicide becomes the option, it's because the person has tried using every method available to them to overcome their affliction and simply couldn't fight anymore. And like the cancer patient, they shouldn't be looked down for such things either.
You Are Not a Bad Person
If you've thought about suicide, you are not a bad person. If you've tried suicide, you are not weak. You didn't just take the easy way out. You didn't flippantly decide life wasn't worth living anymore.
You worked with as many tools as you had to try to get help for your unique situation and found that suicide was the only solution that could help you. Now it is entirely possible, if you're reading this, that you've found alternatives and what they can offer to you.
But you do not deserve the stigma, the cruelty, the condescension, the naysaying, and the negative tearing-down of your self if this was an option you thought about. We as people should be working to address the root causes that lead to the thought of suicide before it ever gets to that point. Hopefully, with more time and effort, we'll get there.
Until then, know that you are still a strong person. You are a good person. How you choose to react to the endless pressures of existence is yours and yours alone. No one else can speak to your life because no one else lives your life.
Continue living your life in whatever way you see fit. May the clouds lift every so often to let you see the sunlight.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Jamie Showalter (author) from Pennsylvania on August 08, 2018:
@Jaye Robinson - I have no experience with having a daughter. But I feel for you. I am not a licensed health professional in any way, mental or otherwise. But I will say that I've been where you're at. It took me until I was constantly sobbing while driving, wanting to jerk to the left all the time, for me to admit I needed to get help. I was sobbing all the way to the doctor's office and while taking the evaluation they give you for mental illness severity.
"They" can't label you as anything. I would honestly find it more unfit, if you can even call it that, to not get help. You don't even need to go to a specialist. I went to my PCP and got on the medications that have kept me together for the last three years.
Weed can definitely help with the lack of patience (a textbook symptom of depression/anxiety), but finding a good counselor along with a medication plan may have even more benefits. Of course, I can't speak to what will work for you because every brain and situation is different. I just know what worked best for me and do my best to share it.
I wish you nothing but the best. My inbox is always open if you ever need to talk less openly.
Jaye Robinson from Michigan on August 08, 2018:
I have a slight case of mental illness. I have been in denial of it for a few years now, maybe even longer. I've just realized that me being unable to deal with people on an everyday basis was not crankiness. I've come to a discovery that my lack of patience for anything is a form of mental illness. There are times that I don't feel up to doing anything whatsoever, but to lay in bed or sit on the couch all day. My daughter looks at me in wonder. I find myself crying, for no apparent reason. My brain just gets sad and I cry. I know I have a problem. Sometimes I'm unsure of how to seek help without being labeled an unfit mother to my daughter. Dealing with it has been my solution. Maybe marijuana, but still that haunting emotion resurfaces, and I'm back a square one.