Before I begin this article, I would just like to say that I am in no way a professional on mental illness or suicide. If you or someone you know may be struggling with either, please reach out for help by calling 1-800-273-8255 or texting START to 741-741. You are loved, and there are resources to help you.
With the recent and tragic death of Chester Bennington, many people have decided to release their feelings via social media. Most have shared their prayers and condolences to Bennington’s family, friends, and fans, while a few others have mentioned how his suicide is selfish.
Yes, you read that right: people believe that suicide is selfish.
This idea that suicide is selfish is rooted in ignorance and privilege. People that have personally dealt with mental illness and suicide realize that those who do commit suicide have been suffering alone for a great amount of time. People who deal with depression know what kind of pain someone has to go through before they get to that stage.
Those who are lucky enough to have never met the demon of depression brush it off as selfishness – this is a privilege many do not obtain.
In today’s society, we have grown secluded and hateful. We don’t help each other. We ignore those in need. We walk quickly by people on the streets begging for help. Our friends and family are screaming for help, showing the most prominent signs of depression, and we brush it off as a “bad week”, or just being sad.
Suicide is not selfish. Suicide is the result of being selfless for too long.
Approximately 43.8 million people in the U.S. alone experience any type of mental illness, with 9.8 million people having a serious mental illness that substantially affects their daily lives. 21.4% of CHILDREN between the ages of 13-18 have experienced a severe mental illness within their lives.
With such a large number of people in the U.S. alone having a mental illness, just think of all of the people they know and are affected by their mental illness. We need to work together to help out each other and our communities; instead of sweeping our problems under the rug and pretending they don’t exist.
If you were one of the people dissing suicide, I want you to think about Bennington. I want you to think about his family. His children. His fans. The millions mourning over a life gone too soon. I want you to think about Robin Williams. His family who now have to survive without the beautiful soul of the comedian. Think about Chris Cornell. Think of his mourning family, who suddenly lost another close friend just a few months later. Think of the fans that will never hear their music the same way.
So what can you do to help? Reach out to people. Talk to them. Ask them how they’re doing. No, how they are REALLY doing. Be a supportive shoulder for friends and family. Be nice to each other. Many people feel as if they have no one to talk to – make sure they know, multiple times if you have to, that they have someone to talk to. Be the warmth and ray of sunshine people haven’t felt in years. You would be surprised what a smile and a polite gesture could do for someone.
Instead of shaming those who commit suicide, offer your support to those who are mourning. Mental illness is a disease, and suicide can be contagious.
And last but not least, if you have nothing nice to say, maybe you should just keep your hateful comments to yourself.
We all have our demons. Some are smaller and less influential on our lives, but nonetheless a demon. We have no idea what other people are going through. We have no idea what demons are haunting over others. All we can do is be considerate.