Stop Calling Suicide Victims Selfish

Stop Calling Suicidal People Selfish, You Can't Imagine What They're Going Through

We wake up every day fighting a battle you cannot even imagine.

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If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

I rarely discuss it. It is something that is often just labeled as a lame cry for attention when it is often indeed a cry for help. The entire discussion around suicide, suicidal behavior, and prevention is one that is widespread but can be difficult to have. No one is for suicide, no one really believes that it will ever offer any real resolution to problems.

However, for so many and myself included it can seem like no other options are available to you.

My story is not the average one. I began experiencing gender dysphoria at a young age as well as struggles with sexuality. I was raised in a conservative, right-wing Christian home where I attended a private, Christian school. My grade was rarely over twenty people in size and I begged to go to a "normal" school. I felt jealous of my younger brother at a very early age and had no language to put to it exactly. As a college freshman, I have begun my search for my identity through gender therapy and a drug called testosterone.

The journey has been a bumpy one. The first time I heard my voice drop I felt freaked out and it is still something I continue to struggle with today. I feel not trans enough for the trans community and especially the more extremist within the community labeled as "truscum" who gatekeep and tell people if they are trans or not despite not have a degree in psychology. For me, it seemed like I could never have the life I wanted to have. I was not sure I wanted to transition completely, but also sure I wanted nothing to do with a girl body, so what was I to do? I went through option after option after option. There was no way to be reborn, to be a guy, to start childhood over, and to escape the pain that haunted me every single moment of my life.

So what was I to do?

I always found peace in sleep. My senior year of high school I would run home to my bed just to sleep. I found peace in my lack of consciousness, escaping from the world without really leaving it. It brought me peace. It brought me comfort. It brought me a sense of home. I wanted that. I wanted to be asleep forever or to escape into the afterlife. To be away from the world and with Jesus and free from the pain I felt here.

I often do grow so tired of the same cliches that are thrown at suicidal people over and over. "Suicide doesn't eliminate life getting worse, it eliminates the chance of it getting better" or "think of all the sunsets you'll miss, the food you won't eat, the laughter you won't have, of your best friend, your future husband, future wife, future kids, think of how your mom will cry or how your dad will grieve" or my personal most despised "its selfish!"

"Selfish."

Every single one of the replies that are repeated above exclude one person and that is the individual who is actually suicidal.

It makes their pain, suffering, and inability to continue to function in the world and society as a whole a bit of a mockery.

Suicidal people shouldn't be labeled selfish for loosing out on a battle that they fought long and hard for. Individuals who struggle with suicidal thoughts are warriors. They are getting up every day and fighting a battle that so many cannot even dream of enduring.

When we lose such a battle and simply cannot continue, cannot bear to move forward and go on we are labeled selfish, selfish for loosing and selfish for not fighting harder. It is a narrative I have grown all too tired of and the cliches are all too weak and familiar.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Teen Suicide Rates Have Surged After ‘13 Reasons Why’ — Proof We Need To Stop Glorifying Suicide NOW

As someone who has struggled with mental illness and suicidal thoughts/tendencies, I fear what would have happened to me had I seen so much media validating suicide.

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When it comes to mental health, and specifically the issue of suicide, it is important to be able to have a conversation about it in order to break the stigma. But, there is a huge difference between glorifying and educating, and, as a society, we're doing it ALL WRONG.

Education and conversation are necessary, glorification and promotion are not.

The main example of misrepresenting suicide in pop culture currently is "13 Reasons Why." The show, which is based on a book by Jay Asher with the same title, focuses on Hannah Baker, a teen who commits suicide and leaves 13 recordings explaining why she killed herself.

According to a recent study following the release this Netflix original series, in the nine months after the show aired, there were 195 more deaths by suicide in 10 to 17-year-olds than what was expected from seasonal patterns alone. This is not a coincidence.

Combining the fact that teenagers and pre-teens are young and impressionable with the fragility of mental illness, it should be obvious that introducing suicidal behavior in such an intimate and visible way will affect those who are seeing it. From a young age and into adulthood, people tend to mimic the behaviors of those around them and those that they constantly see. Watching shows or movies that have a constant theme of suicide, in turn, can lead to an increase of suicidal behavior.

Further explaining this idea, director of the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital Jeff Bridge said that contagion (the increasing spread/increase of suicide) can be "fostered by stories that sensationalize or promote simplistic explanations of suicidal behavior, glorify or romanticize the decedent, present suicide as a means of accomplishing a goal, or offer potential prescriptions of how-to die by suicide."

This simply means that the rising rate of suicide can be in part due to the way suicide is presented in the media because the media shows suicide as a goal to be achieved or a statement to be made, and oftentimes these media outlets even offer ways for suicide to successfully be committed.

The main issue that arises from "13 Reasons Why" and media like it is the fact that they portray mental illness as something you cannot recover from.

Media only shows two real options: suffering from extreme and severe 'symptoms' for the rest of your life or ending this by committing suicide.

This type of portrayal seemingly validates the type of behavior that we should be trying to move away from because, realistically, recovery is possible when you explore the many treatment options that are available.

Treatment options can include therapy, medicine, hospitalization, support groups, mentorships, and more. In order to accurately portray mental health in the media, the sole-solution of suicide needs to be abandoned and the realistic recovery options should be emphasized and practiced.

Another common misrepresentation is that therapy and psychiatric hospitals/care cause more harm than they do good. Commonly shown as dark and isolated, if shown at all, this portrayal pushes those who are struggling with mental health away from seeking out treatment with the fear of 'being locked up.'

The science and education behind mental disorders have advanced so much recently that we need to stop the 18th-century idea of "insane asylums" and look at treatment facilities realistically. While it is historically accurate that mental illness was seen as demonic and evil, these thoughts have long been proved otherwise, so the treatment options should be modernized as well.

As someone who has struggled with mental illness and suicidal thoughts/tendencies, I see the urgency of this issue and the need for it to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Thinking about when I was at the deepest point in my struggles, I fear what would have happened to me had I seen so much media validating suicide.

When suicide is presented as the only effective option and recovery seems like an impossible task, this forces those who are struggling to see suicide as a positive escape from the horrors of their reality. This allows for the rationalization that suicide is an acceptable answer even though it is never the solution.

This type of glorification is detrimental not only to those who suffer from mental illness, but it also affects general viewers. Media companies are monetizing on the misrepresentation of mental illness and are miscommunicating the realities of mental illness in order to create addicting television.

However, what must be realized is that the value of human life and overcoming mental health issues is more important than the value of a good movie to watch or show to binge-watch.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and if we want to have healthy conversations surrounding mental illness, we need to stop making mental illness look like something that is beautifully tragic and stop making suicide look like something so glorified.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

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