The Life You Save May Be Your Own

DID, knitting, sci-fi, and strong opinions

That is the question. September 10, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 2:06 pm
Tags: , , ,

It’s World Suicide Prevention Day. The blogosphere is brimming with the usual “don’t kill yourself” posts. If that’s the kind of post you want to read, look elsewhere–this is not that post.

I’m not against suicide.

I’m not saying people should go kill themselves any time something goes wrong, mind you. I just have a radical belief that every person should have control and determination over their lives, even if that means death.

A number of countries recognize the right to die in cases of terminal illness. But mental illness isn’t terminal, they tell us. You just have to live with it. It can be treated.

In many cases, that’s true–often, mental illness can be successfully treated. But not in every case. A significant portion of us just keep suffering despite the best tries of patients and treaters. Some of us try everything but don’t get better; we drag ourselves through each day, only barely alive, too tired to believe in even the possibility of hope. Our doctors and therapists have run out of ideas. There’s nothing else left for us.

I’ve lost five friends to suicide, and it hurt–but no more than it hurt to lose a friend to a car accident or my aunt to lung cancer. Death is hard for the living, but it’s not always about us–or it shouldn’t be. I think we should think instead about the suicidal person. Does the pain we’d feel from their death justify forcing them to stay alive through unbearable, unending pain? Once someone we love is dead, we hurt–but they don’t, and over time our pain fades. The pain of the people we force to stay alive may very well not fade. So often, suicide is characterized as a selfish act, but I think our society’s radical and anti-suicide stance is much more selfish.

Yes, I’m speaking as someone who’s spent most of her life suicidal. I’ve made four attempts. I’ve been incarcerated, drugged, and abused for wanting to die, and that treatment only made me more suicidal. Although I’m still suicidal sometimes, overall I want to be alive, to make my life worth living. But it was only when I truly had the option to kill myself that I was able to choose to save myself.


5 Responses to “That is the question.”

  1. artyelf Says:

    I haven’t been commenting much lately, but I want to thank you for writing this post. I wrote one that was very similar, but decided not to publish.
    I agree with all that you say, and also feel that days like WSPD can load more shame onto those of us who are suicidal, making people feel weak and worse, and taking away choice.
    Thankyou for your considered words.
    Sending you peace. ♡

  2. mm172001 Says:

    I really enjoyed this post and it reminds me of a post I wrote on suicide being selfish, I think I’m going to go find it and possible re-blog or link it for today. Thanks for saying what some of us think but don’t say because it may not sound “right” to society.

    • weordmyndum Says:

      I just got sick of the “it gets better” anti-suicide posts. I got sick of being treated like a criminal and a child for wanting to stop the suffering the only way I knew how. While I have great respect for many of the bloggers who wrote anti-suicide posts, I also think there needs to be a space for those of us who believe suicide is not always a wrong choice. Not to give voice to that leaves those of us who believe differently isolated from even the mental health peer community. I’m sure anti-suicide bloggers don’t mean it to happen, but it leaves me feeling guilty because I would still consider suicide an option under certain circumstances. And I imagine I’m not the only one out there who feels that way.

  3. Hmm . . . well, I don’t think we should intrude on someone’s autonomy.

    I think though, at the same time, many people who commit suicide would’ve preferred another option, and it’s good for them to know that suicide isn’t their only option.

    • weordmyndum Says:

      I agree.

      What I’m talking about is people who’ve tried the other options. Yes, we might come up with some new treatment that would cure the person’s illness, but the chances of that are extremely slim. I think it’s about as likely that someone will cure my crazy as it is that a giant space dragon will eat our sun. There’s a difference between likely and probable.

      Sure, there are treatments that can alleviate symptoms somewhat, making it a little easier to drag yourself through the day. But what if that’s not enough? What if you want a life, not just survival? And what if none of the resources at your disposal can give you that?

      Basically, I don’t believe we should force people to live. We recognize, in most ways, a person’s right to control their own body. We have the right to choose what medical treatments to use or not to use. We have the right to choose who we have sex with. We have the right to choose whether or not to carry a fetus to term. We should also have the right to choose whether to live or die.

      Just like considering a medical procedure or having a baby, suicide isn’t a choice to be taken lightly. I believe it should be a reasoned, considered decision. I believe it should never be the first option, nor should it be chosen rashly. People should be able to try other resources first, but too often they don’t have access because treatment is prohibitively expensive.

      But at the end of the day, I believe that suicide is sometimes a sane, rational choice. And I believe that should be okay.

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