[TW: suicide & brief mention of sexual assault]
Tired of this “suicide is a choice” bullshit.
It’s a choice like cutting off a crushed and trapped limb is a choice, in the sense that, if you’re in that situation, you truly feel (accurately or otherwise) that *there is no other way out*. Suicidal people often don’t really want to die, but they feel that they don’t have any other way to stop hurting. It doesn’t make sense to call that a choice, just as it doesn’t make sense to call it a choice when someone agrees to have sex with someone who has threatened them with violence, or when someone capitulates to blackmail, or when someone cuts off a limb to escape.
And while it’s true that mental illness is woefully undertreated, that it is stigmatized, that treatment is often poorly researched or too expensive or otherwise not accessible, it is also true that some people try EVERYTHING and they still can’t stop hurting. Some of them have plenty of love in their lives. They have support from their friends and family. They may have money and sometimes even lots of privilege. They’ve tried every available treatment. They’ve been hospitalized, they’ve tried to get into experimental trials. And it still won’t stop, and it’s still so bad that they just want out.
I don’t know what to say to these people except, “I understand.” I don’t know how we as a society can adjudicate who is “allowed” to take their own life because their pain is “bad enough,” and who is not. I do know that the claim that “suicide is a choice,” usually alongside claims that suicide is “selfish” because it hurts the person’s surviving loved ones, presupposes that it is possible for an outsider to know how a person feels, to be able to know the torment that they’re in.
So you know, my personal experience with this is that I did not commit suicide because of the thought of my grieving family. But by the way, nobody guilted me with this. Nobody that I confided my thoughts to said, “Wow, that’s such a selfish thing to do, think of your family!” Had they done that, my condition would’ve probably deteriorated even more. Even if you feel that someone is being selfish or cowardly because of their suicidal plans, this is the time to do the responsible thing and keep some of your thoughts to yourself.
I think the reason I made the choice that I made was because 1) I was lucky to have a supportive, emotionally present family, 2) my depression and suicidality were not as severe as they are for some other people, and 3) I was able to access treatment and that treatment helped me.
MANY PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE ANY OF THESE THREE ADVANTAGES.
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