Suicide Is Selfishness

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The news of famed hip-hop manager Chris Lighty’s suicide has prompted me to come clean. I honestly and truly hate suicide. But who doesn’t, right? Understanding that everyone likely feels the same way, I have a different angle on the subject. Most people disagree with my position, but I don’t mind being in the minority here.

I believe suicide to be the one of the most selfish things a person can do to their loved ones. In some cases, I also believe it to be a weapon used to hurt others. People will be appalled at me saying this, but it makes me so angry and I believe it to be wildly unfair to others.

While I’m expressing one of my most unpopular opinions on a very sensitive subject, let me be completely transparent in saying that I’ve considered suicide before. I’ve even sort of attempted it once. I say “sort of”, because even though I took a bottle of sleeping pills when I was 18 years old and said that I wanted to die, what I really wanted was a break from my problems and I wanted certain people around me to pay attention to the pain that I was invested in blaming them for causing. Even though this was nearly 30 years ago, my point in disclosing all of this is to let you know that I didn’t arrive at this conclusion lightly, nor solely through the process of judging others. Been there and tried that.

But this is also why I believe that it is a selfish act. First of all, to even get to the point of suicide, you have to be so inwardly focused on your own pain that nothing else matters besides stopping it. I don’t say this to disparage other people, especially those who are already feeling wounded and depressed. As much as this truth may prick, however, it’s the truth. I don’t believe that anyone can take such a drastic step without going through the process of placing the stoppage of their own hurt and pain above the hurt and pain that they will undoubtedly cause others by their actions.

In my youthful suicide attempt, I managed to call 911, was rushed to the hospital and even taken to the psychiatric ward of another hospital by two well-intentioned police officers who were kind enough to show me some tough love by informing me that I’d end up a resident in that institution if I ever tried suicide again. I thought about it a few more times after that, but being that I was scared straight, I never made another attempt.

Like I said, though, I thought about it a lot. Even after having my son, I used to fantasize about suicide and the point that I could drive home to people who I was angry with or hurt by by killing myself. What stopped me? My son. I had more love for him than I had for myself and, despite my own hurt and anger, he didn’t deserve the pain and loneliness that my death would cause. I also didn’t want him to have to live with the stigma of a mother who had committed suicide in case such a thing exists.

Several years ago, someone that I know had a girlfriend who was in a very tumultuous relationship.  She and her boyfriend had broken up for the umpteenth time and he wasn’t taking things well at all. So, he kidnapped her, kept her away from her family for a while and then finally let her go. According to the person who told me about this, they were both sort of addicted to each other and to a lot of hurtful tit for tat drama. Not long after the kidnapping incident, he hung himself. From the way the whole story unfolded, I’d always had the feeling that this was his final way of hurting her. He won.

I also know a couple of therapists employed by a local school district. One of them told me the story of an elementary school student whose father yelled at him one morning for not being ready for school when the father, who was responsible for dropping him off before work, was ready to leave. As this was not the kid’s first time running behind schedule, the father decided to teach the son a lesson and left him instead of waiting as he usually did. When the young man’s mother arrived home from work later that day, she had to cut her son down from a light fixture. Angry with his dad, this young person had hanged himself. Might there have been other reasons for his actions? Sure. But the therapist who told me the story only relayed what the young man’s suicide note revealed. This was his way of winning the argument with his dad.

Stories like these, coupled with my own attempt and former suicidal fantasies (I no longer entertain these, btw) are why I don’t react to suicide threats in the same manner that some people do. Threats like these anger me to the point of turning my back on a person. Yes, I know that’s a ruthless approach, but I don’t like being emotionally manipulated. I won’t stand for it. If you’re going to do it…do it…don’t call me to torture me. If you truly want my help, I’ll give it by taking you to a psychiatric hospital where professionals equipped to deal with your threats can offer you care, but don’t call me with a weapon in your hand while lamenting about your issues…especially if you believe I’m a player in your issues. It won’t work in pulling me into your drama and I won’t let you take me down with your grand emotional potshots.

Maybe this is why I never completed my psychology degree. It probably wouldn’t have worked out well for me or my patients in the end.

One of my many flaws is that I’m easily and stubbornly turned off by those types of behaviors and, as a result, I do my best to sever emotionally draining relationships. I guess I’m hardcore in that respect. And, speaking of respect, I’ll also add that I lose a lot of it…most of it…for people who approach me in such a way. Even though I’ve done it to others, I’ve grown up from that person and have gotten over that weak emotional stage in my life and, as callous as it sounds, I don’t make room for that kind of weakness in others.

Oh, and I’ve made it clear to my loved ones that, as jacked up as they may believe my position to be, I won’t attend a funeral of a loved one who has committed suicide. Really, we can’t say what we’ll never do, but with me it’s highly unlikely, since I’d be too angry to pay my respects for something so unnecessary and something that I have zero respect or tolerance for.

My only exception to my stance against suicide is assisted suicide in cases of chronic, debilitating illness. I believe people should have the right to die if they are truly suffering and there is zero chance for recovery. We put beloved pets down for this reason and call it love, but we make other loved ones suffer long drawn out deaths when we continue to oppose humanely assisted medical suicides.

I also make a slight exception for people who commit suicide because they’ve been terribly bullied and can’t see another way out. While I’ve been in my own share of “no way out” situations and have persevered, I understand the feeling of being trapped and feeling abused while in that trap with absolutely no escape. Ditto for the scores of people who kill themselves as the result of being financially overwhelmed (actually, the whole money and materialism attachment is another post for another day). Fortunately, I have a strong faith in the Almighty who has always…and I do mean always…brought me through. But I get that not everyone realizes that power and that relationship, and I get how they might be compelled to give up too soon (read an example of one of my experiences with the Almighty HERE). Of course, I’m not completely unfeeling and while I still think it takes a certain level of self-centeredness to go that far, I do get how suicide can be played out in these instances. These people aren’t using suicide for revenge or to otherwise impact others, they’re using it as an escape mechanism. I don’t like it, but I get it and, in these cases, I do actually feel compassion. In fact, I’d bend over backwards to help someone in this situation.

So, while I’ve listened to all of the arguments against my position…the arguments about my misunderstanding of or lack of compassion for the depressed mind…the feelings of hopelessness people experience and the absolute despair that often results in suicide, my feelings are still my feelings. I think I’m entitled to them. And I own them outright.

My condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide. It was not your fault. You were not even a consideration.

Anyone thinking about suicide? Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and reach out to a professional. Talk to a loved one, but do so with the intention of letting them help you.

Don’t be that person who uses threats or even the very act of suicide as a way to teach someone a lesson or to drive a point home to them. If you are that angry with someone or feel that hurt by them, it’s a whole lot easier to let the relationship go. End the relationship, not your life. That’s the better choice, trust me. To commit suicide as a means of expressing anger or revenge toward someone is to place your own feelings and the feelings that you want that person to experience over the feelings of the people who actually do love you.

As I write this, news of Chris Lighty’s suicide is still developing. Checked it just before hitting the publish button and reports are now unfolding that he shot himself during an argument with his ex-wife. See what I mean? Selfish, angry and uncontrolled emotions. Seems he got the last word in their argument and I’m sure his ex will hurt forever because of this. But what about his young son? Did he deserve to be fatherless? Does he deserve to be left with this final memory of a dad he’ll never really get to know?

Selfish.

Yeah, I know I’m being judgmental, but that really pisses me off. You can pray for me if you want to.

~L.

P.S. My deepest condolences to Chris Lighty’s family. While his suicide prompted this post, it didn’t birth my feelings on the subject. Still, I feel terrible for anyone who has lost a loved one especially when such a premature loss was preventable. I don’t know all of the facts that lead to his actions and I don’t mean any personal offense. Suicide angers me, yes, but what hurts even more is to know the real-life pain that others have to deal with when a loved one is gone…regardless of how they left. I’m so very sorry that your family has to endure this sort of pain. My prayers are certainly with you.

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