With the recent death of Chester Bennington suicide has taken center-stage of public debate. To be sure, his death was tragic because life itself is valuable, and further it left his family, friends, and fans with a huge void in their lives. We at DCN mourn his death for the many ways in which it is tragic.
But what is suicide?
Suicide is the act of ending your life. It’s an attempt to escape pain and suffering that otherwise seems overwhelming and inescapable. I struggle with suicide (and am getting treatment): for a long time I’ve struggled with periodic bouts of suicidal thoughts and even impulses and urges to commit it. For me suicide is a feeling, a different state of mind in which my normal faculties. It is a feeling that can be so intense it impairs reason. It seems to me that making good arguments against committing suicide seem pointless. And it is impossible to describe that feeling to those who haven’t experienced it for themselves.
However there is something else that suicide is: selfish. Just so that we are all on the same page, selfishness is putting your own wants and needs ahead of others. The cry of suicide is “my pain is too great,” “I can’t deal with this anymore,” or “I just want it to end;” and all of these statements are inherently self focused. Unfortunately, this way of thinking about oneself causes many take their lives. But in the process they hurt those around them and neglect their own responsibilities. It simply is selfish to put your own concerns ahead of everyone else's, even your loved ones.
Now I understand, it can be hard, if not impossible, to care about others and responsibilities when you are feeling suicidal. But to justify and defend someone’s “right” to commit suicide is nothing short of selfish too because if those who died don’t have the right to be selfish than neither do you.
In the case of Chester Bennington, the tragedy isn’t that society doesn’t support his decision to commit suicide. If anything, aside from leaving behind his loved ones, the tragedy is that the people around him didn’t, weren’t able to, or weren’t even aware of his struggle enough to help him. (Now recent developments suggest that he may have actually been murdered by an undercover ring of peodophiles in the music industry that he was trying to expose, but that’s another blog for another day).
The thing is that we are conditioned as a society to be selfish. Phrases like, “pick yourself up by your own bootstraps,” or “fend for yourself” are ingrained in us since birth. Save everything for yourself because it’s a risk to spend what you might need later or how do you know that the other person can use it better than you can? This may be what has been taught, but we can do better.
When it comes down to it, suicide is not justifiable; suicide is merely the selfish attempt at an escape that leaves others hurt. Ultimately, people who struggles with suicide need your help to get through it. Instead of encouraging what is wrong, how about practicing selflessness and giving your time and effort to support that person in your life who is struggling (perhaps not even struggling as far as suicide) to help maintain what is right and healthy: life.
Note From the Editor: It is often customary to leave the national suicide prevention hotline at the end of posts like these. As someone who has worked in suicide prevention, I do recommend contacting that hotline if you have suicidal thoughts. However, for the rest of us, who are fortunate enough to be well-adjusted, we should do more than just give out that hotline. Take advantage of your good mental health to help those in need. Contact your local shelter, or find ways to volunteer. In the end, many of people who are depressed or suicidal have no hope because they feel they are alone, or the trauma has become too much to manage. We, as a society, can show them otherwise. We can show them that they can heal, and life is worth it, no matter how terrible it may seem. We need to do more, is what I am ultimately saying, because suicide rates are increasing, not decreasing, which means we are doing something wrong. And that needs to change.
Suicide Statistics: US
National Suicide Hotline #1-800-273-8255.