Suicide isn’t selfish. By now you have probably heard the sad news that actor and comedian Robin Williams has died from an apparent suicide.
When it comes to the world of celebrity, I usually don’t pay any attention. I don’t care about which reality stars are getting married, or which crazy name some hollywood couple have chosen for their baby. I never partake in RIPs to celebrities on twitter or facebook no matter how much I loved their work (.. even Michael Jackson) but this death has struck a very painful chord in me.
It’s not because some of the only really good memories I have of growing up were spent watching his films with my Dad, or that he battled with severe depression and I can relate to that..
It’s actually the comments and the articles I’ve read in the past 10 hours about suicide and the stigma attached. How suicide is a selfish act.
You can bet that a person who deems suicide to be selfish has never been in that place. Has never had that darkness rot their mind and body to the point where death feels like the only option. Hopefully they never will be in that place, but it’s unfair to judge a condition you haven’t experienced. Any person who can utter the words “suicide is selfish” or “suicide is a cowards way out” is a very privileged person to not be in the position to understand.
Depression is serious. The words ‘depressed’ and ‘depression’ get thrown around a lot. People attach the description of being emotional or the feeling of being down in the dumps to this word, that actually means a fuck lot more than that, and in the end it only trivialises what depression truly means to a person that genuinely suffers with it and is in the tightest grip of their illness.
If you’ve had a spout of depression once in your life and you got over it, then fantastic, enjoy every second of your happiness because life can be good and beautiful and worth living. For some people it’s not that simple, and your experience doesn’t qualify you to dismiss a person with a serious clinical condition in the same respect you can’t just tell a person who is paralysed from the waist down to get up and walk because you once recovered from a broken leg.
An illness of the mind is still an illness like any other, and the mind is a powerful thing.
I come from the perspective of a person who battled depression from the age of 11, who tried to commit suicide at a very young age, who has been friends with people who have taken their own lives, who has been on the other end of the phone to the Samaritans too many times, who has been desperate, tortured and exhausted to the point where I couldn’t lift up my own body.
I was lucky to survive my depression, but there were major points in my life where it felt like there would never be a light at the end of my tunnel. Times where it felt like I was in my own version of Hell. Can you imagine being tortured on a loop forever? That’s what it feels like until you don’t feel anything any more, and I just didn’t want to wake up ever again.
Depression overtakes everything. It can stop you from tasting your food, or hearing the noises around you, or feeling anything at all. It can turn you into a zombie and take away your entire sense of being. It’s a poison in your brain that can’t just be switched off, so sometimes it can feel like death is the only thing left.
If a person feels as if their life is worth nothing, that it feels like a choice between a life sentence in the worst prison you could imagine or death, that they get so far into this black hole that they take their own life, how can they be anything but a victim?
Yes, they leave the people that loved them behind. It’s devastating when anyone we love dies and it’s confusing and heartbreaking when you care for a person, reach out and help them as much as you can and they still leave you behind. That’s undeniable. But they weren’t selfish. They were sick.
Instead of passing judgement to those that have taken their lives through something they felt they couldn’t control or trivialising a debilitating condition with an outdated stigma… Let’s talk about it. Be open and discuss it.
Give people a reason and a safe place to lift their masks and talk about their struggles without the fear of being judged… because If one of the funniest most successful people can battle depression, anyone can be a victim to it.
If you’re having suicidal thoughts, give Samaritans a call on their 24-hour support service: 08457 90 90 90