I wrote this post a few weeks ago on my way to BlogHer, and have been scared to post it. I don’t want to turn anyone away because of my opinion about this. But I think it is an important perspective when thinking of mental illness and suicide prevention.
After writing it I spoke to the adult daughter of a man who died by suicide. We spoke very openly about her feelings surrounding her father’s death, and I told her my theory of selfishness (or in this case non selfishness.) She had not thought in the below terms before, but it helped her look at her dad’s death in a different light. Perhaps you might have a slight change in perspective too. That is why I finally want to have the courage to post it. I’m hitting publish, but am very nervous doing it.
Do you think a parent who dies by suicide is selfish?
I’m willing to bet more than a few of you said YES.
I do–truly–understand the instinct to feel that way. Especially for those of you who’ve never lived with mental illness. Naturally a mentally healthy person cannot understand how any parent could *abandon* their children (as I’m sure they see it and understandably so.)
I personally have not been suicidal since having children (thankfully) but I have been in the past pre-kids. I know that it was close to impossible for me to see or believe that a future existed. My family, my loved ones had nothing to do with it. It was the mental illness talking. It was my altered mind that could not see a future, and mistakingly thought my family and friends would be better off without me.
It may be illogical. It IS illogical. But not to person in the depths of mental illness and suicidal thoughts.
So today I challenge you to help remove this stigma of those suffering from mental illness.
Try to think of it this way. If society sees mentally ill people as selfish or bad for feelings and instincts they cannot control, how readily will they seek help?
Or will they begin to see themselves as selfish or bad, further advancing their own self-loathing. And further validating their misguided belief that their family will be “better off” without them.
People who die by suicide are ill.
Just like a cancer patient who loses the fight with cancer, so does a person who loses his or her battle with depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder or other mental illness. It is a disease. One that we have not chosen to have, just like any other illness. But one that with proper and timely treatment can be overcome.
I’d love to know if you have you ever thought about it in this way?
Can you see why I personally do not believe suicide to be selfish?
Tragic, yes. Heartbreaking and unnecessary, yes.
But selfish. No.
If you are feeling like your family would be better off without you, please ask for help. Seek medical attention immediately. Call the suicide prevention lifeline at (800) 273-TALK. You are not alone.