Stop Saying Suicide Is A “Selfish” Act

May is regarded as Mental Health Awareness month in the US. With the untimely passing of football great Junior Seau, the act of committing suicide has thrust to the forefront of my mind.

We all are inconsolable when we know it’s too late

2 people close to me have committed suicide over the course of my life. And like many, I found myself confused and disheartened that I couldn’t save them. I asked myself so many times “why didn’t I see it?”, “what could I have done differently?” As I navigated through the stages of grief, the anger set in and I wondered “How could you do this to me?”, “why didn’t you ask me for help?”. But my moment of acceptance didn’t come until last week. Sometimes when your precious loved one leaves you without answers, you get to the point of asking yourself, “can I love them enough to let them go?”

I was moved to tears watching Junior Seau’s mother plead to her God not to take her son. All parents, especially mothers, cannot bear the soul-wrenching feeling of seeing shovels of the loosened earth cover their child at an age far too young. Yet what we must realize is that suicide is a last resort that may be too heavy of a solution for loved ones to handle. Junior Seau’s death is a unique situation. But every day, people are living with mental diseases or fighting addictions that are slowly chipping away at their very mental fiber.

Society as a whole sees suicide as the single most selfish thing a person can do; to themselves and their family. We feel like we can dictate the lives of people whose journeys we aren’t at a vantage point to comprehend. We all talk about what they leave behind and how much damage it does. But what we don’t do is step outside of ourselves to think about the internal turmoil that individual is going through. We haven’t conditioned ourselves to be more empathetic and accept that even the most ardent individuals have pain that we can’t see. If you can’t see a problem, you can’t analyze it. And if you can’t analyze it, you can’t fix it.

The stigma that’s made suicide seem as a weak, selfish act has to be removed by facing the truth that we as functions of society can’t fix everything. There was a time in my life where things were so chaotic and nothing I was doing was right. I had lost my youngest brother, my father and my sister all within a year. I knew my family loved me, I knew my girlfriend and friends loved me. But I sat in my apartment one night, stared at a bottle of vicodin and really thought about life on the other side. The only thing that pulled me off the ledge was that I knew I still had some things I wanted to accomplish. It sounds cliche, but the little voice in my head was screaming “don’t be stupid, J”. I’m fortunate that voice was there.

Not everybody laments in that manner though. We have to respect that we can’t decide when someone else should’ve did more or tried harder. Even though emotionally we’re unable to process the act of suicide, know that for the individual it wasn’t a choice. It was their resolution.

Do you consider suicide is a selfish act? Why do you think society in general views suicide as “selfish”? 

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15 comments

    1. Thanks alot for reading! If I can open 1 person’s mind about the subject, then I’m content

  1. Really great post. I agree with you 1000%. I hate that suicide is characterized as selfish and weak. I’m a highly empathetic person, and I really can only feel sad for a person who gets to that point. We’re all battling demons in our heads and hearts; for some it just becomes too much. Some people’s worst enemy is their own mind, and people really gotta understand that. Thanks for this post.

    1. Thanks for stopping by from SBM 🙂 You’re so right, it really is about an individual’s demons. Funny thing is, no demon effects in the same manner. Even if 2 people have the same exact problem, like schizophrenia or manic-depressive. The brain is such an enigmatic machine and we gotta realize that we’re not smarter than that machine

  2. I agree with your post. Some people turn on themselves when they have no one else to turn to. I think a person commits suicide when it seems they have exhausted all options or the pain becomes unbearable whether its physical, psychological, or emotional . Others don’t understand it because they have never come to that point in their lives. The signs are always their though and that is why instead of dismissing another person when they are reaching out just to avoid being put in a temporarily uncomfortable situation, hear someone else out without passing judgement. It will save the person you claim to love life.

    1. Absolutely. A lot of people were saying “you never know what a person is going through” when news broke of Seau’s death. We can always affect a person’s mindset with simply being available as a soundboard. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for this post. I work at a mental health agency and did a suicide prevention training for work and was amazed at how many people working at my agency thought of suicide (and mental health issues/illnesses/difficulties) as a sign of weakness and suicide and a very selfish thing. We as communities have so much (un-/re-)learning to do regarding mental health and suicide.

    1. Totally agree! People tend to focus on what they lose in losing a loved one to suicide. But when you step back, that in and of itself is selfish thinking. Thanks for sharing and commenting

  4. I consider myself an overly emphatic person, which is why I thought of suicide as the sign of ultimate selfishness. I thought that just because you’re going through a bad time isn’t justification to make your friends and family suffer all kinds of hell because of you. One day I was feeling really down for several different reasons, didn’t see a point in getting up, didn’t want to do anything or reach out to anyone, and it hit me: what if life was like that every. single. day? What if there were months and months of waking up in the morning and not wanting to do anything, not wanting to see anyone, talk to anyone, get up at all? What if that feeling of worthlessness, that feeling of depression, wasn’t just an unwelcome guest for the day, what if it became a member of the family? I’m in no position to judge someone when I have only a very faint idea of how bad things are for them.

    I think it’s hard for those who seemingly have no reason to be depressed, to admit that they are depressed. A lot of people never reach out, and a lot of people also never show signs of their troubles. I think it’s generally speaking wrong to blame anyone for a suicide, without knowing the details. Sometimes there’s just pain inside someone that they can’t do anything about, and they won’t tell you so you can’t help them. They kind of just wither away.

    Sorry for the long reply, this is a topic that I feel strongly about. Good post.

    1. Vee, thanks for sharing! My experience is the mirror image of yours. I just sank lower and lower until I snapped myself out of it. I liken extreme depression like that to quicksand you know? People struggle and fight for years until they just get tired. Then you compound that with legitimate mental illness and it’s a pressure cooker. If you’ve never been on the edge, you can’t relate.

  5. Simply put this is one of the best, informative, and touching articles I have seen in eons on WordPress. Hopefully you have educated a few naysayers and cynics out there. I know all too well about this subject and we’re all fortunate that you helped to bring this to light for all to read.
    Thanks!! Well done!

    1. Thanks for the love, man! It was a tough subject to cover, but it was therapeutic for me to get out and hopefully it gave someone a different perspective on the topic.

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