I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of suicide and the mentality of the suicidally depressed since the news about the exploitative vlogger disrespecting Aokigahara came out.
I ranted a bit on twitter about it in the moment, because at the time I had been so filled with anger it just sort of vomited out of me. Having taken some time to really mull over these thoughts and articulate them better… At least I hope
We have a common problem when dealing with mental illness, of looking at it from the mind-set of a healthy place and making our judgements there.
We cannot help people without empathy, and you cannot empathize with someone struggling from suicidal ideation with regular logic. You cannot apply your outside-looking-in thinking to someone inside depression.
Depression lies to you. It lies so well and so much.
Which is why you can’t scare or shock a person dealing with ideation out of being suicidal by showing them a dead body. That’s how you shock someone who WANTS to live. That won’t help here.
People who’ve struggled with ideation know what dead bodies look like. Being confronted with the dead isn’t what stops the suicidal from being suicidal. People dealing with ideation aren’t scared of being dead, they long for it. That’s what being suicidal means. Wanting that peace, being out of the anxiety of existing, getting to rest.
The living… THAT is what gives the suicidal pause.
Not living with the people you love. Not getting to see them every day, not being around, knowing on some level you are going to hurt them.
It’s when depression has snuffed those thoughts out… that it wins.
When we have convinced ourselves it would be better on those we love, if we were not around. That we are doing them a favor.
That’s why I get so frustrated when anyone says suicide is the most selfish act a person can do. It denotes a complete lack of understanding of that person’s pain. Because to that person. Depression has convinced them that it is the most SELFLESS thing they could do.
I don’t want you to know what that place feels like first-hand, because it’s not an easy edge to walk away from. But I need you to try to understand from that point of view. We cannot help people struggling with mental illness without empathy, and you cannot help someone through that darkness without realizing they will not be using your logic.
You have clearer vision on the outside. And some people, will be able to acknowledge that. But a lot of people? That Depression has been lying to their brain for so long, they’re convinced the best thing they can do for you–the most loving thing they can do for everyone–is to go away.
No matter how untrue that is.
I walked away from that edge because I saw the absolute devastation my brother’s death left in its wake. The sobs and wailing from my sister on the way to the graveyard, the look in my parents’ eyes. The tremors we still feel today. The discomfort of going out to eat and remembering we’re a family of 4 now, not 5.
You don’t get used to it. People don’t get used to it.
I’ve got a bullet wound that never fully stops bleeding. You get distracted, and you don’t think about it all the time, but then out of the blue, I remember, ‘My brother genuinely thought the world would be a better place without him. That we would be better without him’.
And it hurts again.
Everyone is different, and everyone has different motives, so I don’t want to make a sweeping generalization here… But I have seen an uncomfortable trend with addressing those dealing with mental illness and suicidal ideation with the logic of being on the outside looking in.
And you can’t do that. That’s not empathy. And it won’t help anyone.