When to Give In and Let Someone Commit Suicide?
Is there really a question as to when to give in and let someone commit suicide? According to some commenters and a recent email I received, there sure is.
This morning, I received an email saying that I was “promoting torture” by telling people not to commit suicide. According to the emailer:
I’m not clear on why this blog makes people feel that ending one’s suffering is not an option…and in fact is a wrong thing to do….?
Don’t we all have choices? If we’ve done all we can and life is absolute hell, then why convince people to continue to live such lives?!
So the question is, is there really a time when you should give in and just let someone commit suicide?
I’ve been suicidal a greater amount of my life than I would ever want to admit to or talk about. I get wanting to die. I get it like the fact that I get that we breathe oxygen. I get the pain that’s involved in depression, bipolar and mental illness and I get the desire to want to escape that pain in any way possible. And I get that the only way it seems possible to escape that pain is through suicide. I totally get this.
But I am not always suicidal.
Give In and “Let” Someone Commit Suicide?
Ay, there’s the rub. I’m not always suicidal. People with mental illness are not always suicidal. Yes, sometimes depression is protracted and, yes, sometimes the feelings of suicidality last for very long periods of time. And sometimes those depressed, suicidal feelings seem like they will last forever. Yes, that is absolutely true.
But it is also true that people get better from mental illness every day with treatment. It is even true that people like me, people who have been acutely ill for years get better with treatment. It is true that even after begging for my death for extremely long periods of time, I still have times when I’m thankful not to be dead. There are times when I’m glad I didn’t commit suicide.
And that’s the thing. People who are suicidal because of mental illness can get better with treatment. There is always hope. As long as there is treatment available (and there is always treatment available, somewhere, somehow) then there is always hope. You, honestly, might feel suicidal until you get to your 20th medication change. I would hate for that to be true for you but it could happen. But then that 20th medication change happens and you do get better.
This is why there is no time when it’s appropriate to just give in and let someone commit suicide. There is no time when there is no hope. There is no time when it’s okay to give up when someone asks you to let them die.
Because no matter how dark it looks, no matter how fucked up your life is, no matter what you’ve done to create your problems, there is a “through” and there is an “other side.” There will be another sunrise. There will be another friend. There will be another kind word or gesture. There will be another smile. There will be another pint of Ben and Jerry’s. There will be another reason to be alive.
I’ll Never “Give In” and Let Someone Commit Suicide
And that is why I will never give in and simply say, “Okay, commit suicide then.” I’ll never say it. Because I’m glad I’m not dead and one day you will be, too. It might not be tomorrow. But one day, maybe years from now, you will be able to look back on your life and be glad you didn’t commit suicide today, because of all the amazing tomorrows you have left to go.
Does pain hurt? Yes. Does pain make like unbearable? Yes, it does. Does it seem like suicide is the only way out? Sometimes. But is pain something we can survive? Yes, absolutely, no matter how infinitely unfair the pain might be.
Sometimes life is torture, but it won’t always be that way, so hang on until it changes because nothing stays the same in life, not even wanting to commit suicide.
[As a quick addendum, I do not consider suicide because of mental illness the same thing as assisted suicide at the end stages of an illness. At the end stages of an illness your future is certain, foretold and is guaranteed to worsen until death. This can never be said of mental illness.]