Thank the heavens, we change. If we’re willing to learn, to grow, we can undergo a kind of metamorphosis. We can shift from asshole caterpillars to thinking, compassionate butterflies. Yes, there is a point to this long-winded metaphor. Stick with me. A few days ago, I realized I had been a caterpillar for a good chunk of my life; and like caterpillars are wont to do, I was convinced I was in the right, or that at least it was my right to entertain any kind of idea, particularly that idea. Arrogant and stubborn, I thought that my life experience and usually analytic attitude gave me an edge, that everyone else was just emotional and conformist, not willing to look at the reality in which we live. I was wrong. This piece is my way of saying, sorry for ever thinking like that.
My crime, you ask? This is how I used to think about suicide. Many of us have fought to get a shot at life; we ate dirt and shat blood for it. If someone can’t handle life, let them end theirs and be done with it.
Now, I could go on and start building a case for myself. Provide context, soften your heart, and beg to be understood. But that’s not why I’m here today. The intent of this post is to share my transformation, and hope that if you think the way I used to, my words will help you shift your perspective.
Why We Think We’re Entitled
We have all heard of the usual suspects. People who kill themselves are selfish. Suicide is for the weak. It was the work of the Devil! (yes, with a capital D!) Well, I don’t hold a PhD in psychology or anything, but here’s what I think. We tend to marginalize people who decide to end their lives for several reasons. Here’s a short list off the top of my head.
1) Suicide makes us feel vulnerable, especially when we knew the person who died. We realize that we knew their problems and sometimes have similar ones, that any day, it could get just that little worse for us as well. So we get angry, and in losing ourselves to that anger, we forget that it is not about us.
2) We mourn. Someone was taken from us. It’s unfair. Once again, we squeeze the world tightly around us as if it were a blanket, and only remember the departed when trash-talking the way the chose to go. Because we’re the ones suffering, right?
3) Guilt. This also is especially relevant if we were close. Maybe we could have done something — if only she had come to us, if only he had let me see his pain. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
I notice a trend in those excuses supposed to justify the unjustifiable way we regard people who have commited suicide. It’s got very little to do with the dead and everything to do with the living. The pain left behind, the loneliness, the betrayal. And I think it’s sad that we can get so self-obsessed we forget that those who decided to kill themselves were people too; people with histories, lives, lovers; people who’d cried and laughed and fucked around in every sense of the word; people who mattered.
Why That Entitlement Is Not OK
No one decides to blow their brains out because they’re bored. No one just goes, oh fuck that! People kill themselves because there’s no other way. No exit. No loophole. No fucking hope. From their perspective. When too much is too much, it’s too much.
So, it’s not okay to parade around shouting how those people are weaklings who didn’t deserve life to begin with. It’s not akay to think that because the void they left overwhelms us, we can taint the lives they led with accusations of selfishness, trivializing the pain that led them to tragedy. And it is most definitely not okay to put a mirror where they bled and stare at our own tears and red-eyed guilt, all the while thinking, if only they… Point is, we didn’t see it coming. Maybe we could have, maybe not. Doesn’t change a thing, but let’s not put it on them. And for the love of whatever-you-hold-dear, will you just leave the Devil alone? He’s got enough on his plate already!
A Word to the World
Ask yourself this! Have you ever thought about suicide? I know it’s a heavy question and a heavy subject. I know that by default, Society would rather forget about those grim conversations. If we don’t talk about it, we don’t think about it, right? But guess what, life — or death, if you want to be morbidly accurate — doesn’t forget about shit.
I have never considered ending my life. But I have been in situations where I thought, yeah not that impossible to think about, after all. Then I sat down and really thought about suicide. About the people behind the ugly word. About what would happen if I was one of those people and my loved ones and/or acquaintances spoke of me with so little regard and so much pompous self-righteousness.
Well, I’d fucking hate it. I started to realize how big a dick I’d been my entire life. I understood that one doesn’t ‘give up’, one is simply overwhelmed and washed away by relentless waves. One day, you just can’t fight it anymore. It can happen over a lifetime; it can happen over the course of a few weeks; it can happen overnight.
If you have never thought about suicide, it might be a good idea to do so. Not about comitting suicide, but thinking of those who do; try to understand them or at least to see things from their point of view. I guarantee it; lessons will be learned.
If you have thought about doing it, if you’re thinking about doing it, or if you ever find yourself in a place so dark that the idea of suicide seems appealing, please don’t go through it. I don’t want to sound condescending, or worse like a character out of a hollywood flick with a ton of violins playing in the background, but here it is: there’s always a way out. Always. No matter how deep the well, how dark the pit, or how hot the furnace, there’s always a way out.
In spite of the pain, the shame, or the fear, you matter too much to let go.