Disclaimer: This piece reflects the writer’s opinion and compiled opinions of others on the subject matter. It does not reflect the opinions or beliefs of WORLD OF BUZZ.
Disclaimer: This article contains elements of suicide that some readers may find disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.
Considering the amount of awareness and educational content that’s been put out in conjunction with mental health over the recent years, I’m surprised this is something I still have to bring up.
When I hear someone address suicide as ‘doing something stupid’, I can’t help but feel offended. And that’s exactly how I felt when I heard it from a family member.
Here’s what happened
Over the weekend, a close friend (L) who took his own life years ago had come up in a conversation with an older family member. She called what L did ‘stupid’.
“Please don’t do something stupid like L.”
I know she meant well and while many of us have grown to accept that the older generation can be a little stubborn when it comes to such topics, I was still hurt by her statement.
Especially since I had gone from living in a home where mental health was considered as just ‘mental’, to psychologically thriving in an environment where depression and suicidal tendencies were more openly discussed, I couldn’t accept returning to it being ‘stupid’.
“There is no such thing as mental health. You’re just crazy. Don’t do anything stupid.”
So, thought I’d write this reminder, as to why we need to stop calling suicide ‘something stupid’.
It prevents opportunities for open discussions
Someone enduring depression and suicidal thoughts do not need to hear you call them dumb. They need to talk about what they’re feeling and why. This will allow the involved parties to get clarity and a deeper understanding of the situation.
But, by calling suicidal thoughts and suicide ‘stupid’, you’re basically telling them that what they’re feeling is a waste of your time and that they can’t talk to you about what they’re experiencing. This might also prevent them from seeking further help as they may then consider their experiences and feelings as unworthy of attention.
And speaking of unworthy, you’ll also make them feel worse than they’re already feeling
Take it from me, depressed people already feel the worst they can feel. But, hearing a loved one tell them what they’re feeling is stupid will show them new depths of lowliness. Which is worst than loneliness, trust me. Being alone is better than being ridiculed.
Comments like that will only enforce their negative self-image and leave them feeling even more beaten down than they already are.
And don’t even get me started on calling it ‘selfish’
Those who consider suicide believe that it’s a noble act, a sacrifice for the better good of their loved ones. Many of them feel like a burden to their family and friends, and removing themselves from loved ones’ lives feel like a favour done. For them, it feels like a solution.
“Suicide is at the end of a long probable chain of thoughts and it is rarely, if ever, done for selfish reasons. It is the ultimate despair,” shared Prof Paul Fearon, medical director of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services.
You’re probably wondering, ‘Well then, what do I say in such situations?’
1tly, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not about what you can say, but how willing you are to be perceptive.
You have to be void of judgement and be open minded. Once you’re there, saying things like, “Let’s talk about it” and “I care and I’m here for you” will come easy.
Not only will this lead to healthier family dynamics but it’ll also open up a pathway for them to seek professional help.
With the right interventions, depression is treatable and suicide is preventable.
All in all, to call suicide ‘something stupid’ is to underestimate the power of psychological pain and its capabilities. And it’s sure as hell real. It’s as real as our minds, you can’t see it but you still use it to think.
In fact, people should even educate themselves to not say it as “commit” suicide as suicide is not a crime to be committed. It should be addressed as “died by suicide”.
And it’s never too late to be more mindful towards our loved ones with depression and suicidal thoughts.
If you’re feeling lonely, in distress, in despair, or if you’re having suicidal thoughts, Befrienders is providing emotional support 24 hours a day. It’s never too late to reach out and talk to someone. It’s free and confidential.
Befrienders Hotline: 03-7627 2929