Suicide is a motherfucker. Suicidal thoughts are hell. When your own brain is telling you that the people you love are better off without you, long enough or convincingly enough, that you believe it, simply living is hell. I’ve been there, not recently, but I’ve been there. I started thinking about this when we lost Robin Williams and I mostly kept my thoughts to myself. Then Chris Cornell took his own life and yesterday Chester Bennington did the same. I was combing YouTube and watching some of the videos of them together and came across this:
I was in tears by the end. As a father, watching that, and knowing that somehow Chris Cornell had been convinced that his children, who he obviously loved, along with his wife were better off without him I knew I had to write something.
Let me make one thing clear, in that moment, in that place, suicide is not selfish. Your whole world is wrong, your whole existence a form of torture. There is something inside of you that has made you believe that everyone is better off without you. For the person with the gun in their hand their final act is one of love. That may be hard to swallow but it’s the harsh reality of the situation. When you truly believe that your continued existence is actively harming those you love then the answer can seem simple. I’ll allow that there are other reasons, like chronic pain or terminal illness, but those aren’t what we’ve all been seeing in the media so being pedantic about it is worthless as far as I’m concerned.
Suicide is not the easy way out, it’s not the cowards way out, it’s not selfish, and it’s not simple. If you don’t think the person tying the rope hasn’t thought about their children, and the pain it will cause them and decided, utterly wrongly, that their kids pain will less after the suicide then you don’t have a fucking clue what you’re talking about. If you don’t think they looked their kids in the eyes, at some point, and said “I love you” with the full knowledge that their love for their kids is the very reason they’re about walk out the car and drive over a bridge, then you’re ignorant. Yes, all of those thoughts are wrong, all of those thoughts are broken, but that’s the whole point but those are the thoughts that are happening.
It’s been decades since I had those thoughts and well before I had kids but yes, more than once I decided that my mother, father, sisters, brothers, and my friends would be better off if I was gone. My head was telling me that I was so much of a burden that the only loving thing to do was leave and leave in the most permanent way possible. I am grateful that I never managed to pull it off and have the life I have now but don’t think I don’t become terrified at the occasional, passing thought of “am I worth more dead or alive”. I am highly attuned to those thought processes and if they ever start again I will be in therapy faster than you can blink. Not everyone manages that, therapy doesn’t always work, and sometimes things are just so wrong that there’s no coming back before you make that final mistake.
Yes, I think suicide is a mistake but I do not think it’s weak, selfish, or easy. Things might be different if we had better mental health care in this country. I’ve been open about my ADD, my medications, and even my occasional bouts of depression. I am open about these things in an attempt to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness. Every single person claiming that suicide is selfish, and I know I’ve probably said that defensively at some point, or weak, or the easy way is part of the problem. Every. Single. Person. All you do when you make those bullshit claims is show someone that you cannot and are not willing to understand them. Those statements push people closer to taking their own life rather than help pull them back from the brink.
It’s time we started looking at this issue differently. I don’t believe we should praise those who commit suicide, I do believe it’s a mistake, but at the same time I know where that person might be at when they pick up that razor. If you think you should say that it’s the coward’s way out, when someone famous or someone you know and love takes their own life then I personally invite you to shut the fuck up and spare us your drivel.
I know this is ostensibly a music site but it’s also my music site so I won’t apologize for the abrupt topic shift. However here are some beautiful things from folks who recently gave in to those thoughts I mentioned, they will never create anything, beautiful or otherwise, again.