We Need to Destigmatize Suicide

If you are having thoughts about committing suicide or otherwise harming yourself, please call 1-800-273-8255 (U.S.) or check this page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines for a suicide helpline in your region.

The world is absurd. Life is absurd. I cannot, for the life of me, fathom why the first ever living thing decided that it was a good idea to make more copies of itself thus leading to the evolution of humans (and other species). The only thing that make sense is that life was a complete accident and once that ball got rolling, desire for pleasure (sex) and lack of birth control did the rest. Given that life is ultimately doomed, the origin of life as we know it seems pointless and sad.

Nobody chooses life. It is thrust upon them, often with inconsideration and usually for selfish reasons of the progenitors. I suspect at some point in history when humans gained awareness of the futility of life they may have attempted eliminating the human species by practicing birth control. Particularly if they belonged to the slave/serf/worker class of people. (I was giving humanity too much credit when I wrote this line. It probably was never true.) The powers that be, i.e. rulers and religious orders, conspired to ensure an abundance of servants to make birth control and abortion a sin. (This is probably true but not due to the previous sentence.)

It is perfectly normal then for people to contemplate suicide at some point in their lives. There is, however, no good reason to commit suicide. That is to say, if one thinks that they ought to kill themselves because of jilted love, failed business venture or extreme shame, etc.; those are all invalid reasons to want to end oneself.

To be alive is the only valid reason not to want to continue living. This may seem like a paradox, but I cannot/won't explain it any further.

Given that it is normal for a person to want to end their life, we need to stop treating suicidal thoughts/tendencies as something that is wrong with that person. The inclination for people to treat those with suicidal ideations as maladjusted or ill itself is a cultural disease that we have willingly contracted. It is due to our own fears about death and dying and societal impositions about the sanctity of life that makes us view those with suicidal ideation as somehow being sick.

Rather than trying to treat someone out of suicide, how about we give their contemplation full credit. Euthanasia for terminally ill people is becoming normalized. Let’s realize that life itself is terminal. Even if it wasn’t; even if we could live forever, it is conceivable that a person may not want to do so and end their life before the universe ends it for them.

This is not to say that people should be given the option to end their lives at the first thought of suicide but to rule out false reasons (see above) for wanting to die and to make sure that they have explored every other reason to make their life worth living. This could include supervised volunteer work where a suicidal person can make themselves useful to someone else.

When they have nothing to live for, perhaps living for someone else may help save their life.

This idea is by no means comprehensive and needs to be explored and studied further. As someone who has contemplated (for the right reasons (I think)) suicide, I find it insensitive/infuriating when people think that there must be something wrong with me for doing so.

Comments

Hi Kamal,
I appreciate your deeply thoughtful communications here.
I do believe that life and the world are absurd. Sometimes that’s all, it seems, and then other times I also can see, know or feel that life and parts of the world can be many other things as well, things that can be worth living for, even well worth living for. Do you feel that way too?
I just wanted to let you know that you have been a great inspiration to my vegan and environmental awareness journey. I respect your beliefs, and at the same time I wanted to tell you that I am relieved you did not act on your thoughts to end your life because I know for a fact that you are needed by this absurd world. It’s the only hope: people like you. People like you make me want to live!!!!
I didn’t see you at the recent VegFest but hope to see you some time.

Dear Miriam,

I do believe life can be made worth living. Not to sound pompous, but I work hard to make it worthwhile. But, life is inherently absurd and lacking meaning. While most people don't give it a second thought, I struggle with it often. Living a meaningful life is not sufficient. It needs to be happy as well. Meaning and happiness are not mutually guaranteed. And, while I have meaning through my animal rights activism, happiness is more elusive. 

Thanks again for taking the time to write. I hope to see you soon as well.

Kamal

Dear Kamal,
Oh yes, the elusiveness of happiness. I know it well. I think I search or welcome or am on the lookout for things that soothe rather than make me happy, if that makes sense. Yesterday a hummingbird flew so close to me I couldn’t believe it and hung in midair for a moment nearby. I felt, I think, both soothed and maybe even happy for a moment. I take what I can get, with all the horror and suffering.......I wish the same for you.

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.