Suicide - A Selfish Act?
It has been quite a big week for me. With Monday being ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’, I was invited onto the BBC breakfast show to try to open up the conversation around suicide. The response was humbling and it was a really good way to kick off the week that I had already decided I was going to make about tackling suicide stigma across my social platforms. I thought the segment was really well covered and it was great to share the sofa with Poorna Bell who had lost her partner to suicide.
I wanted my Monday vlog to be as informative as I could, so I tried to strip it right back and give the unfiltered timeline of my life’s relationship with suicide. No gimmicks, no stats, just a look into my internal world to help us all better understand suicide.
Then, on Wednesday, I was part of The Sun’s ‘You’re Not Alone’ campaign where I shared my life story of addiction and suicidal thinking.
All of this combined meant that throughout the week I had lots of conversations with people who had been impacted by suicide in some way. I talk about the time I seriously planned to take my own life as, at the time, feeling like the most selfless and noble thing I could do.
I had reached a point where my mind told me that I was only tainting the lives of the people closest to me and that the world would be a better place without me.
So I can understand just how easily and quickly the mind can become that distorted and removed from reality.
Depression is real. The pain is real and had I gone through with my plan, I would have died believing I had done the right thing. Suicide is rarely just about not wanting to be here. Its more complex than that. It is lack of purpose, lack of meaning, self hate, feelings of being a fraud, anxiety…. the list is endless and messy.
I don’t believe anyone that takes their own life, or thinks about it, is in any kind of headspace where they can be justifiably judged as being selfish. This would be like judging someone in a dark room for not being able to see. For this reason I do not believe suicide is selfish.
However, and it is a big however, the loved ones that are left behind are absolutely justified to feel and explore the idea that it is selfish.
We have this want and need to make everything black and white and it doesn’t work like that. When dealing with grief and trauma it is vital we allow people to get curious and explore what they think and feel. If you are a spouse of someone lost to suicide and perhaps you are left to raise a family alone then the question of ‘why?’ is going to plague you.
We have to allow the conversation to open up. We do that by removing the stigma and allowing people to talk about how they feel, we don’t do that by telling people what they feel is wrong. With less stigma and a more open conversation we can educate each other. The moment we make peoples thoughts and feelings wrong, we encourage suppression. We must encourage the opposite - Freedom and an open conversation.
If we do this and do it to people from a young age we can help us all to better understand and comprehend the idea that suicide is not selfish.