We Need to End the Suicide Stigma (Content Warning)

I write this with a heavy heart this morning as I learned one of my friends committed suicide two nights ago.

First, I felt the shock of the news.

Then, I felt the sadness of the loss.

Now, I feel the guilt.

I should have done more. I should have seen the signs. I should have communicated with her more, checked on her more, the list goes on.

But there is something else I have discovered about suicide during this tragedy, and that’s the fact that there are people who still don’t understand mental health.

There is still such a harsh stigma behind people committing suicide… I’ve heard things like, “Well, I know she didn’t go to heaven” and “She should have found something in her life worth hanging onto.”

???? (This is where I raise my eyebrow)

First of all, none of us can say where the person went after they died. We don’t have the right and it’s not our judgement to make.

You can’t just tell people who are depressed, suicidal, etc, that they need to find something to hold onto. That they need to find a REASON to be here. That’s not how it works.

As well all know, the reason we are here on this Earth is never blatantly placed before us. There is no flashing sign that tells us why we are here. If that were the case, maybe it would help. Maybe. But with mental health, there are no promises.

People who have never felt this way don’t understand this. And good for you for being mentally “stronger” than some of the rest of us. But we don’t need your advice. In fact, your advice can be a little toxic sometimes. People don’t WANT or CHOOSE to feel this way. If everyone had the choice to be happy, carefree, and not worry about a damn thing, trust me, that’s what they’d choose. You cannot tell depressed people to find something to hold onto. That’s not how it works. Let me explain.

When you feel this way, you feel there is an impending doom. You feel like no one TRULY cares about you even if you have dozens of friends and family. You have convinced yourself that people would be better off without you (and sometimes people may have told you that). You’re tired of hurting. You’re tired of feeling worthless. There’s a dark cloud looming over you that keeps telling you to end it because everything will be so much better. There will be no more suffering. JK Rowling symbolized this very well with the Dementors in the Harry Potter series.

And it’s not about what is around you and who is in your life. Depression doesn’t care if you have kids, are a celebrity, are the most popular person in school, a house wife, a world class athlete, a brilliant scientist on the verge of finding a cure for AIDS, a beautiful model, the kid working at the local gas station…

And to speak to the survivors of suicide attempts, the stigma is even worse. They are often labeled CRAZY, SELFISH, or MENTALLY UNSTABLE. I know, because I am one of them.

We need to end this judgemental attitude society has. Let’s stop telling these people to have external reasons to stay, or that they are going to hell. Let’s instead help them, give them resources that will help them. Tell them that we will be there, because at the end of the day that is what all of us want–just someone to be there in the dark times.

 

Image Credit: (click here)

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