I Still Think Suicide Is Selfish And No, I'm Not Ignorant For Believing So

I Still Think Suicide Is Selfish And No, I'm Not Ignorant For Believing So

We need to stop ridiculing people who believe differently than us.
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My eleventh grade teacher always reminded his students to remove phrases like "I believe," "I think" or "in my opinion" from first person essays. He said it was redundant to include them because anyone reading our work would know what we write is our personal opinion.

Mr. Ponikvar is correct to an extent. I think now, more than ever, it is so important to include those phrases in our social media posts. In regards to my recent article about suicide, I heard many complaints about my lack of compassion, awareness, and sensitivity.

But if there's one regret I have about my last article, it's this: I didn't emphasize enough that the words I wrote are my opinion, which are based on my personal experiences ranging from childhood through present day.

Let's get one thing straight — opinion does not equal fact. Almost every negative reaction my last article received was so consumed in an egotistical outlook, that many people forgot the foundation of an opinion. It is neither right nor wrong.

However, my fiancé brought up a good point as I wrote this article. Some opinions can be discredited, and that is exactly why it's so important to hear each other out and be open to different perspectives.

Everyone has different life experiences (education, religion, etc.), some might be more knowledgeable about a topic than you are. You’re allowed to have an opinion, but you should always be willing to admit that someone else might know something you don’t.

We can all learn from each other.

What hurts the most is people who call me ignorant or say things like, "You've obviously never experienced depression." The hurt I felt, however, wasn't for myself. It was for all of those people who ACTUALLY believe I don't know what I'm talking about simply because it contradicts their own knowledge and beliefs.

I'm writing this article as a partial follow-up to my last one, but I mainly want to talk about a larger issue that was brought to my attention through the conversation my article created.

Every single person is different. Everyone is raised differently than their parents, siblings, and neighbors. Everyone experiences different friendships, hardships, and feelings. Everyone has a right to believe in what they believe in, and no one should be ridiculed or belittled for thinking differently than anyone else.

Something important to know about me is that I was raised in a Latino-Christian household. Those aspects of my life played a huge role in the types of life lessons I was taught. One of the life lessons emphasized early on is that family is everything. Family comes first, and you should always do what you can to help your family before yourself or anyone else.

Mental illness and depression were taboo subjects growing up, mostly because I was surrounded by adults who believed depression was experienced by individuals who lived a life without Christ.

My depression was brought on at the young age of 14 when my best friend, Brittany Kirk, was murdered by her stepdad. The same stepdad we all joked around with and loved hearing tell jokes. No one saw it coming, and her murder, along with her brother and mother's, was a shock to everyone who knew their family.

It was a long road to healing, but I overcame my depression because anytime I heard about suicide, it was described as selfish.

"There's more to life than yourself and your sadness. You can't let your emotions overpower your common sense. God has a plan for you, and killing yourself is just plain stupid."

Those were the kinds of things I heard about suicide growing up. The only reason I didn't kill myself when I was 14 years old was because all those words flooded my mind. Despite the deep darkness that consumed my mind and heart, I knew ending my life wasn't the answer.

It would hurt and permanently scar the lives of my parents, siblings, nieces, nephews and so many others. I would set an awful example, and I would cause more damage than I could possibly imagine.

The opinion and belief that suicide is selfish saved my life, but many people think that kind of outlook is toxic. Regardless of how you were raised and what you have been taught to believe, you have to remember that everyone has a different outlook on life because of their upbringing and experiences.

Don't judge others based on their beliefs. They're entitled to them just as much as you are. No one can help what they're taught to believe, the people they meet, the schools they go to, etc.

No one opinion is more important than another. Just because a particular opinion is popular doesn't make it a fact.

Experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts does not automatically make you an expert on it or qualified to assume why Chester Bennington, or anyone for that matter, did it.

I don't care if you have a Ph.D., you will never completely understand my, or anyone else's, experience. Depression is experienced differently by everyone. No one can experience someone else's pain because it is caused by a unique experience, and they feel what they do based on their past, their ability to cope, and many other factors.

Some people label my opinion on suicide "toxic" while others label it "a revelation." At the end of the day, it is only an opinion based on my personal experiences, and no one can take that away from me.

I want to also point out people are not defined by their actions. By labeling suicide as selfish, I am in no way labeling a person who ends their life, selfish. Millions of people deal with horrible mental health issues, and I never have and never will take it lightly.

Depression affects everyone differently, which means there are some life-saving methods that work for some and others that don't. This phone number 1-800-273-8255 might save someone's life, but it didn't save mine.

You don't have to believe suicide is selfish, but some people do. Accept it, don't judge, continue to disagree if you want, but move on. There is no room for hostility or lack of respect when discussing other's opinions.

Let's do better.

Cover Image Credit: Cameron Hart Photography

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Sorry I'm A Size 00

But I'm not really sorry.
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My whole life I’ve been thin—which is kind of an understatement. Every time I go to the doctor I get the same “you’re underweight” lecture that I’ve heard every year since I was able to form memories. I’ve never really felt insecure about my weight, I love being able to eat everything and not gain a single pound. Since my freshman year of high school I’ve probably only gained 8 pounds and I’m now a sophomore in college. Of course, in school, there were rumors that I was anorexic or bulimic, but everyone who knew me knew that was far from the truth. I’m now 19, 5’2, and I still have yet to break 100 pounds on the scale. It seems that there is a lot of skinny shaming going around and to me, one of the main contributors to that is the Dove Real Beauty campaign.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this because skinny girls get all the praise and other body types are neglected. That’s really not true, though. While loving other body types, you are tearing down skinny girls. Why is it okay to do that to skinny girls but not to other body types? Why is it okay to say “only dogs like bones” or say “every body type is beautiful” until you see a model's abs, or ribs, or thigh gap and then tear them down because they’re “unnaturally” skinny?



The point I’m trying to make is that, as a naturally skinny girl, I have never shamed anyone for their body type, yet I go every day and get at least two comments about my weight. I’m always the skinny girl, the toothpick, but I’m not Jessica. Yeah, I’m a size 00. Get over it. If you have an issue with my body and feel like my body is disgusting to you, don’t look at it. I know that I’m healthy and I don’t need your input when my body just naturally burns calories fast. I don’t have an eating disorder and never have. I am real beauty though, and I know that because I’m comfortable in my own skin. So maybe the real issue is that we as a society have been shoving certain body types down our daughters’ throats so they begin to romanticize models that have certain standards that they have to meet, who work hard for the bodies that they have, and are making a hell of a lot more money than most of the people discussing why they look emaciated while what they’re actually looking at is the photoshopped product.

I’m not going to apologize for being skinny when that is just how my body is, I can’t help it. So please, stop tearing my body down while trying to bring your body up. You can praise your body without shaming skinny girls. Shaming me for being thin does not make you better than the man that shamed your body, just as me shaming you for being curvy does not make me better than the man that shamed my body. As women, we need to love each other because we are the only ones who truly understand each other.


Cover Image Credit: Victoria's Secret Untouched

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A Year After My Suicide Attempt I Can Say That I'm Happy I Failed

I failed in taking my life, and now a year later, it's completely changed.

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Warning: This content talks about suicide.

On February 4th, 2018, I tried to take my life.

Obviously, my attempt failed.

It was the day of the Super Bowl—the only reason I remember is because all of my friends were too drunk to take me to the hospital.

I had just gotten off of work, and a coworker and I had just had a nasty fight. I worked closely with sexual assault survivors—I was chair of the Sexual Assault Awareness Month Planning Committee at the time—and we had been screaming at each other about why it was important to believe survivors. He, like many, believed that it wasn't fair to the wrongly accused, and people should always be suspicious if there's an accusation.

Earlier that day, one of my fellow managers at Pizza Hut was hired back onto the team even though there had been many complaints by employees as young as 16 that he had sexually harassed them.

That and the confrontation with my coworker on the same day sent me over the edge. Chairing that committee was the most important thing I had ever done, and it wasn't going well whatsoever. Moreover, I felt like whatever I did accomplish on the committee, people like these two men would still exist and survivors' voices would continue to not matter.

I felt hopeless like nothing mattered. I didn't matter.

I was so overcome leaving the office that while I was waiting for the light to turn to cross the street, I walked in front of a car.

They stopped just in time, and I remember running to my car, sobbing and embarrassed at my failure. That was one of the worst nights of my life.

Two days later on my birthday, I was diagnosed with depression. Over the next few months, I started taking mood stabilizers and worked with a counselor on campus to get me through the semester.

Looking back a year later, I think for probably the thousandth time about how thankful I am the driver missed me.

I was fired from Pizza Hut (for something that was totally, obviously, not my fault!) that same week, and it ended up being one of the best things that could have happened for me. That job was one of the biggest stresses in my life, forcing me to deal with sexism, homophobia, and racism daily from my coworkers, not to mention screaming customers who don't treat you like a person.

I presented at a conference, learning and teaching my peers about rape culture.

That April, I developed an event where survivors could present poetry they wrote themselves to have their narrative heard. To this day, I've never experienced any feeling like the one I had laying in my bed that night, reflecting on some of the thanks I received and the emotion I saw.

I also found my dog on the side of the road and rescued her. Now she's my emotional support animal, also the apple of my eye.

Around the same time, I started to crochet. I still have a lot of room for improvement, but if I hadn't gotten depressed and went sober, I wouldn't have had so much time on my hands, which gave me the time to learn what is now one of my biggest pleasures in life.

A few months later, the night before my first Pride, I cried in the back of my friends' car reading the Wikipedia page that helps you work through whether or not you're genderfluid. Any queer knows that if you have to Google it, you probably are. I came out to my support group shortly after. Then Pride happened, and it was the most deliciously queer thing I've ever experienced. I felt more validated than ever.

I started binding when I needed to feel more "me." Now I live authentically, respecting and loving my male and female side equally.

That same month, my roommate got a companion for my Stella named Pepper, and she brings so much joy and laughter into our lives. Their sisterhood is adorable, and the four of us have become a little family in our little college apartment.

When school started, I received a scholarship, started two internships (one as a Content Creator with this fine establishment), and earned straight A's for the first time in my life.

Towards the end of that semester, my beautiful girlfriend and I started dating, and it's easily one of the best relationships I've ever been in.

At Thanksgiving, I came out to my parents as gay.

Soon after, I went back to Seattle where I was born and was reminded how much I love the mountains and trees.

I got four tattoos in 2018. All of them are beautiful and special, and make me feel like art.

Now, I'm starting the last semester of my undergraduate degree.

I sit here now, with so many accomplishments under my belt and high points in this past year, and thank whatever gods may be for stopping the car.

As cliche as it may sound, I've developed a newfound appreciation for life and everything it has to offer. I can sink my teeth into every day, and my heart is full with the bounties I get to enjoy because I chose to work for my mental health and work for my place here on this earth.

I deserve that. Everyone deserves that.

It really is true what they say, that if you don't stick around to watch it get better, it never will. I, and this year are living, breathing proof of that.

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