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Stop Telling Suicidal People They Are Selfish

CW: this article will touch on subjects that may be triggering for some people. Please, if you know the following content could have any kind of negative impact on you, read with extreme caution or not at all.  

In light of the release of Netflix’s new original series “13 Reasons Why”, many people seem to be taking suicide and its prevention way more seriously than before (because, apparently, the growing suicide rates weren’t enough). It’s only now that people have come to the realization that suicide isn’t really a spur of the moment decision. That it’s something you consider when everything else in life seems pointless or far from helpful. When it feels like the world’s given up on you, so you might as well do the exact same.

I’ve talked about suicide to some people in my life, as well as accidentally overheard conversations, or seen posts online. There’s always one idea that keeps making me feel uneasy like something’s not quite right: people who commit suicide are selfish. According to this view, whoever takes their own life away has made a personal decision, without taking the people in their lives into consideration (because, also according to this opinion, if you think about those people you eventually decide not to kill yourself). People who support this idea might also be the same people who post grainy-low-quality “inspirational” photos on Instagram about how “happiness is a choice, choose to not be sad”.

Here’s the problem with that way of thinking: I sincerely don’t believe anyone who feels that way about suicide has ever been suicidal or has seriously considered committing suicide. You see, it literally doesn’t get worse than wanting to kill yourself. It’s the ultimate all time low. A person doesn’t wake up one morning with the dandy idea that “today would be a nice day to take my life”. Wanting to kill yourself feels like nothing, it’s empty and numbing like life goes by and everything moves forward without you and it doesn’t even matter.

I think that, although extremely harsh and graphic, “13 Reasons Why” is a good example of how a suicidal mind works. Some people have a mental illness that simply embraces the idea, but there’s always more to it — always. It might be one big event or a long chain of smaller ones. Whether we like it or not, we are people living in an on-going and functioning society. Our actions and choices are partly determined by the people around us with whom we share our lives. As a consequence, we have war or marriage or friendship or family or suicide. I’m not saying we should blame ourselves for someone we know taking their life away — not at all — but what we choose to do or to not do does influence that person’s decision. So yes, a person does choose to commit suicide, but it’s not something one is driven to by a cause completely isolated from another human being (at least not in the vast majority of cases).

Because of that exact same reason, suicide is not an act that happens separately from society either. Someone’s suicide happens to someone else as well. Life goes on for the rest, the people who will have to deal with it. It might end your pain, but not everyone else’s. And I’m not saying that’s either right or wrong, it’s just how it is. It’s very important that everyone understand what wanting to kill yourself feels like, just get an idea. Do you understand how sad, how miserable one would have to feel? Feeling like everyone’s lives would be better off without your own, how harsh it that? Believing that your life is so worthless you don’t even deserve it. That’s what it feels like.

Rather than an act of selfishness or cowardice, suicide is an act of desperation.

So here’s what I think we should all do: be kind, be there and be aware. A smile is all it might take to save someone’s life. As cliché and generic as it might sound, it does get better.

If you are someone who might be hitting rock-bottom or considering this path, this is your sign to not do it. It’s not worth it. It never will be. Your feelings and motives, whatever they are, are valid because you are valid, but trust me when I tell you it simply isn’t worth it. There’s a certain, hidden beauty to life and it’s out there waiting for you to find it. Get the help you need. You can’t, and don’t, have to do this alone. There’s an entire community of people who understand and are rooting for you, who want you here on this planet. I can’t exactly tell you why we are here, or what our purpose in life is, but I can tell you — you have a place in this world and you will find it. Look for the small pleasures in life, let yourself be amazed and see what happens. I won’t say it’s easy. God, or whoever’s up there, knows it’s not. I will say it’s possible to get better.

You can find the suicide prevention hotline of your corresponding country here and donate to the same organization here.

Stay safe, stay alive.

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There's not much to say really. I've been writing since I could spell, and I still wrote before then with the help of my mom. I'm also a good listener and would love to help anyone who needs it.

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