sunset photo, taken 20th april 2007 in Wales, UK.

Depression & Suicide

I wrote this as a response to an image post trying to guilt-trip people into not commiting suicide using friends and family, on reddit. The reddit OP removed his post due to criticism, so I’ve copied it here.

Here’s the thing most people don’t get about suicide.

Those who choose to kill themselves aren’t (normally) irrational. They’re making a considered option. They’re aware of the pain they’ll leave. They’re aware of the pain of the method.

Someone who chooses to commit suicide is exactly the same response as the person who chooses to jump to death from a burning building. It’s not that the suicide is a good option. It’s that staying is unbearable.

Severe depression, or severe recurrent depression the type I suffer from, is a cruel, evil disease. It eats at your joy of life, it eats at your ability to look after yourself, it eats at your ability to function day-to-day, even simple things like cooking a meal being more akin to climbing mount Everest in a wheelchair, blindfolded, with your hands tied behind your back, than anything else.

You want to help someone like me not decide in the darkest, most painful times not to die?

First, don’t try to guilt-trip them with friends and family. It won’t help, I already know all those things. I’ve already considered them. I’ve discounted them. Sometimes the suffering is just too great.

Second, be there. That friend who you’ve not heard from for a while? Phone. Suggest popping over for a cuppa tea. Suggest they come to you. Push a little. Text. Email. IM. Skype. Reach out.

Third, if you know someone is suffering, offer to listen, anytime, anywhere, anyhow, and mean it. Keep your phone on next to you, and pick it up at 3am if they call.

Forth, if someone is really bad, struggling day to day, offer real help. Not “I’m here for you” but “hey, I’m coming over Friday, we’ll watch a film and order pizza”. Or “Hey, I’m bringing over my pasta bake, and leaving it with you, I’ll pick up the dish tomorrow.”. “Hey, need any help with housework? I’m free Saturday to come help if you want?”

Finally, Accept that, even then, sometimes someone like me will be suffering too much, and it’s not about you. It’s not about your pain, that they were suffering too much, and decided enough was enough. They’re in less pain than they were before.

P.S. Vote. Vote for people who give a shit about mental health support (in the UK, NOT THE CONSERVATIVES FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD). Vote for those who care about basic medical support. Consider donating to research.

p.p.s edit; please don’t say anything along the lines of ‘why don’t you just decide to be happy?’. That doesn’t help.

But seriously, be there for your friends and family, especially if they’re being weirdly distant. You may just save a life.

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