Contemplating suicide? Please don’t. You will be sorely missed.

In crisis? Please reach out… Call 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or visit
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org to chat with someone 24 hours a day.

I’ve historically believed that so long as someone’s actions don’t directly harm others, then to each their own.

Theoretically, I’ve applied this belief system to life and death. I strongly support physician-assisted suicide and Right to Die legislation. I’ve always believed that labeling suicide as a crime is silly.

Philosophically, I support the right for people to choose death. If you are in intolerable pain and suffering, isn’t the most ethical thing to allow you to relieve that hurt?

And then my friend committed suicide. My young, healthy, smart, loved friend killed himself.

And this week, so did Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Talented, accomplished, wealthy, loved people.

As when Sean died, I’ve realized how suicide can appear as a very selfish act. Why would someone do such a thing? Didn’t they think about their family? Children? Friends? Didn’t they know they were loved??

Questions like this–questions I once asked myself and have since cringed at every time a suicide happens–suggest that suicide is a completely rational decision. These types of questions don’t take into account brain chemistry or understand the altered state of mind that many who take their own lives are living with at the time of their deaths.

***

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. And the majority of people who kill themselves–90%–have a recognizable and treatable psychiatric condition such as depression or PTSD at the time of their death. Suicide does not have to be the answer to ending emotional turmoil.
 
***

Death in the age of social media is an interesting proposition.

I remember looking at my friend’s Facebook shortly after his passing, the macabre first-person mechanism his family used to communicate about funeral arrangements. So many people said things like: If I had only known… Why didn’t he call me… I would have been there in a second… I, basically an acquaintance at that point, even wondered: What if I had just sent him a message… would it have made a difference?

I don’t know the answer. I have no idea what drove him to it. All I do know is that in addition to being sad that Sean was gone, I also felt angry… It didn’t have to end that way.

Now, in light of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain’s deaths just a few days apart, I’m seeing the same comments across social media. I’m feeling similarly confounded, but ultimately more compassionate. We just don’t know the suffering of others.

But as before, I want to make the plea:
 

If you are contemplating suicide, please reach out. Please know that people love you–even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. Please know that there is help available. Please know that you WILL be missed. Please know that you–YOU–matter.

If you are in crisis, please reach out, please call someone, no matter the hour. Your life is worth it.

xoxo,
shawna

Adapted from an April 15, 2012 post.

*When initially writing this post, I recognized that I was separating physical and emotional pain, believing that for terminal, incurable physical ailments, suicide seems the most compassionate answer, but that emotional issues in an otherwise healthy person do not constitute enough cause for killing oneself. There is a reason I am not a moral authority on anything!

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