You’d pretty much have to live under a rock to not have heard about Robin Williams’ suicide. And any time there is news of a suicide, I inevitably see comments on how selfish suicide is. I understand that sentiment – it’s a terrible thing for a family who is left behind. I’m ashamed to say that there was a time when I made the same comments. Then I met my old pal depression.
I have written about depression before – what it is like, what it does to your life, your friendships. And maybe only people who struggle with depression can understand, but saying that suicide is selfish just isn’t that simple. People don’t commit suicide for spite. They don’t think well, I’ll fix them, I’ll kill myself. Or at least rational, mentally healthy people don’t. If they did? Sure – that would be selfish. But for someone who is suffering from depressions (and suffering is truly the word for it), their minds don’t work that way.
You might think about suicide and your attitude would be “I could never do that to my family, they need me, it would be selfish” But the mind of a depressed person works differently. They think, “I can’t believe what I am doing to my family – I am a burden. They would be better off without me. I am doing this for them.” Because that is what depression does – it lies to you. It tells you that you don’t deserve to be happy, that you aren’t worth anyone’s time or kindness or love. It tells you that the world would be a better place without you. And because you are in its grips – you believe it.
Let’s stop saying that suicide is selfish. When someone dies from cancer, we don’t say how selfish they were for leaving their family like that. Because cancer is a disease. Well, guess what? Depression is a disease, too. And suicide is nothing but a tragedy.
If you are feeling like suicide is an option, please call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) for the National Suicide Prevention Line http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/