No Such Thing As Suicide

March 27, 2016  •  1 Comment

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I've been on this journey of mental health self awareness for about 18 months now. In that time, I've learned a great deal about myself and the people I've chosen to surround myself with. I've been a little slow to learn about things like my disease and suicide however.

 

Don't get me wrong, I knew the numbers and statistics. I know where to find the depressing data on youth and veteran suicides. All of that information is just fodder and candy for impact advertising and motivational speakers.

 

My most recent epiphany? Nobody commits suicide. We may die by our own hands but we did not kill ourselves. Something pushed us to do it. If a cancer patient denies treatment, their cause of death is not listed as self inflicted. IT IS NO DIFFERENT WITH A MENTAL ILLNESS OR BULLYING.

 

I have friends who have attempted to end their lives. I stand by the assertion that it wasn't a desire to end life that drove them to it. It was their disease, the voices in their head that pushed them to end their suffering, to see no other way out.

 

“He committed suicide” creates the false narrative that the victim was actively engaged in the decision. Often, the reality is the complete opposite. We are barely engaged in life let alone our actions and behaviors. Trapped in the prison of our minds, the disease that locks us away takes over many of our day to day operations.

 

Imagine going through every day expending all of your effort to appear functional and coherent during shallow exercises. Business meetings, water cooler talk with coworkers and customers, grocery shopping and the morning commute are all things we manage in a barely conscious state. We have become actors portraying a life while not actively living it.

 

None of those scenarios require feelings or true engagement. Fast forward a few hours to family time and we may seem coarse, disengaged, angry or distant. We've simply no energy left to maintain a facade that requires us to behave in a deeper and more meaningful way. Breaking out of our minds prison, even for those you love, isn't an option. The disease does the talking and acting for us.

 

What about the kids, bullied for weeks, months or years on end? Do we blame them for having a hand in their own deaths? We shouldn't. The failure wasn't on them for not being strong enough to stand up against a daily torture. The sometimes neglectful behavior of the people they relied upon to protect them and primarily those who engaged in the abhorrent behavior. They were killed by someone else. It was only their body that provided the vehicle for their murder. That is not to say that every child who dies by their own hand was neglected. However, someone missed the signs. Someone overlooked bullying behavior. Someone was the bully.  Sometimes, we do all we can and still miss the signs.

 

Sitting here, drinking my tea and watching through the window at the birds coming and going from the new feeder on my deck, I am unable to think of an instance where the blame of suicide should fall to the victim.

 

No, suicide does not exist in my mind, and I will do my best to end the use of the term. In an era when we are working to end victim blaming, it's time to stop it in these instances as well. We can do better than we have, and I will take a stand, finally, for what I believe.

 

The photo above is my own.


Comments

1.Jude Langdon(non-registered)
Someone I know posted this message about suicide. Although I understand your journey in trying to comprehend what delivers a person to their self-destruction, I believe that mental health disorders are now the giant receptacle attributing to this end. The subject of suicide has been wrestled with from our earliest times. The Greek and Roman philosophers wrote about this. Life is hard and was in our beginnings as human kind. The response to enormous pain - whether physical and/or emotional is to seek an end to it. There are events in our lives that leave their mark on us- logical result of wounding. I don't believe that people who take their lives necessarily fall into a category of mental disorder because they end their lives. The philosophers wrote about rational suicide. Perhaps not rational for all but for some the circumstances and suffering in their life may exceed their ability to withstand. Our pain and thoughts about our suffering and wanting to put a stop to it is now pathologized as mental disorder. I for one believe there are things that occur in our time here on earth that are beyond our ability to cope and it is not disorder to be unable to find a way to live with those circumstances. When is it not mental disorder to have been too weary to continue to carry the burden of having been abused as a child - physically, emotionally, sexually, for soldiers returning from a war that the horrors of play in their minds as the most dramatic visual film, for any kind of trauma that goes beyond normal capacity to endure. Everything today is a disorder and has a label and medication to apply to that term but I think it's too slippery a slope to attribute all person's who take their lives as mentally disordered. I'm with many early thinkers that there is something called rational suicide totally contrary to the belief that all persons taking their lives are not rational - that to take one's life must mean that one is in an irrational state. I'm not endorsing suicide nor am I pronouncing those having done so as mentally disordered. I think there needs to be more exploration as to how fragile we are as humans in being perhaps mortally wounded by those happenings in our lives to the extent we cannot go on.
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