On Blogcritics today there is an applause-worthy piece that talks about the dangers of suicide and praises suicide-prevention workers who give of themselves to show troubled people that there is another road to travel.
I feel, though, that in addition to giving credit to therapists and hotline counselors, another truth, an unpopular one, must be voiced on this subject.
Suicide is a troublesome topic for me. I know people who have taken that route over the years (a couple just within the last year). And this is a road I have walked: I nearly died during my own attempt years ago. My brother’s last-minute intervention is the only reason I am here today. Given where and what “here” is, that is not good news. Don’t go getting worried for me: I have children now and know that road is off-limits for me. But only because of obligations; I know I am better off not here.
For a tragic few, suicide — to them — can be preferable to continuing on in this life. As such, I believe it immoral that the government has anything to say about an individual’s personal decision. The situation changes if the suicidal person takes someone else along for the ride, naturally, because that indeed is murder. And if a person is going to take his or her life, mitigating the inconvenience for others is of paramount importance.
Don’t get me wrong: I am NOT advocating suicide — it is a horrible thing. That road is taken only because a human being is going through unspeakable, impossible-to-be-alleviated agony. I do believe for most, that pain can be healed. Some wannabe suicides attempt it because they haven’t seen all the possible alternatives and — especially in the case of the young — they don’t understand the finality of the act (for them). And many do not consider or understand what they are doing to and the regrets, questions, guilt, and anguish they are leaving for their family and friends. For that reason I fully believe suicide-prevention is important, necessary work. Those in that field are to be commended — they save the lives of people for whom there are other roads. And we, as a society, should give these heroic caregivers the support they need to navigate what is a tumultuous sea, an ocean that can become even harder to sail when someone dies.
Let me be clear: Every attempt must be made to give people alternatives to suicide. At the same time, we must accept a very difficult truth: Some people can not be helped or saved. There are a few people who truly are so wounded, so tormented, so sick of life and failure that — as tragic as it is, as selfish as they must be — the only way out for them is death. I don’t write these words lightly, but then my own attempt was not made lightly. In retrospect and especially now, I still wish it had been successful. The anguish of those dark days nearly two decades ago only continues to multiply exponentially. Therapy, clergy, wee-hours calls to hotlines, long talks with close friends, fights with the spouse and all have not helped one bit.
Just as passionately, though, I believe that for most people considering offing themselves, help is possible — and all who are suffering deserve access to anti-suicide resources. I am grateful to those who made the attempt to reassure me, however fruitless their efforts. Cheers to those who take on the task of saving the lives that can be saved.
If you are feeling depressed or suicidal, my advice to you: Get help now. If this is an emergency, call 1-800-273-8255 or 1-800-950-6264 (in the US) or 08457 90 90 90 (in the UK or Northern Ireland). Or send email to Samaritans UK. In other countries, you will find contact information for many countries at Befrienders International.