Monday, January 16, 2012

"Suicide is Selfish"

I often hear people say things like "suicide is the most selfish thing you can do" and "suicidal people must not care about their families at all."

Well, I just don't think that is the case.

First of all, many do not have families who are particularly supportive, which may be part of the problem in the first place. In fact, many times people who attempt suicide are surrounded by people who are extremely abusive. Especially if the person is a teenager or has limited resources, they may see no way out.

And even if people who have attempted suicide do have people in their lives that are supportive, the person may be truly in so much psychological pain - e.g. they may be bombarded with flashbacks of a very traumatic event or paralyzed by depression - that it might be nearly impossible to take into consideration the perspective of a loved one.

On top of this, some people may feel so worthless that they think ending their lives will actually be doing their loved ones a favor. What's even more upsetting is that in some situations, the person's perception may be accurate - it isn't always, but it could be.  Stigma against people with mental health is strong and I'm sure some family members might consider a person with mental health issues to be a burden.  Of course, this isn't always the case, but it's certainly a possibility.

Please note that whether or not a person's family actually does believe them to be a burden has no bearing on whether or not a person should kill themselves.  Clearly this question is out of the depth of this blog post.  In this post I am merely illustrating reasons why it is myopic to negatively judge people who have suicidal thoughts.  I've heard stories so horrific, it seems incredible that a person could have any will to live at all.  It is not a therapist's job to judge whether or not a person should kill themselves.  It is our job, however, to do everything possible to teach skills that can make life more bearable.

My advice is simply this: don't be so quick to judge.


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