Posted by: anniewilson | April 10, 2009

EPIPHANY…Suicide IS Painless!

I have to apologize to a lot of people who I don’t even know. I was thinking about a couple of posts that I wrote and I realized that attempting to back up each post morally was hypocritical of me. The posts were both about suicide; one was pro, the other con.

I wrote that the dying have the right to choose when life is too tough for them, when the pain is too great and the quality of life too dismal. I was quite good at it too. As a nurse who has cared for countless dying people, I knew of what I spoke. I told the story of a patient who was dying in pain, alone and with enough fluid in his lungs to make him feel that he was drowning. I declared that HE had the right to an early escape from the pain that he was suffering.

Then, when an otherwise healthy young celebrity attempted suicide, I didn’t even wonder why. It didn’t matter to me at all WHY he felt as though he had no other way out of his pain, I self-righteously called him “selfish” and summarily dismissed whatever it was that led him down Suicide Street.

I believe some would call it hypocritical to maintain those two stances simultaneously. I would be one of them.

I don’t know how I let that one get by me but I did. I guess it’s because I can SEE physical suffering, the indignities of life as it fades away and the pain of loved ones left to hear the prayers of the dying soul as he begs God to take him sooner rather than later. I think we can all empathise with that patient to some degree.

The suffering of a depressed person, however, is relatively easy to miss. We aren’t there when they wake up in the morning and think, “Damn…I’m still here and nothing has changed.” We aren’t in their minds as they suffer silently for years because they “wouldn’t do anything to hurt their kids”. We aren’t there when the kids grow up and move away and friends are few. We aren’t there as they ask themselves, “Why do I pay for a phone that never rings?” We aren’t there as they spend hours a day worrying about children who rarely call, friends who have been swept away by the years and relatives who seem to be dying on a regular basis.

Suicide is a Street. It isn’t usually an impulse item. It’s something that you think about for years. At first, it seems like a ridiculous thought and it’s more of a fantasy than anything else. As you travel a little bit further down Suicide Street, you sort of get used to the idea like people get used to hearing about mass murder on TV. As hideous and it is, we become desensitized as we are exposed to more and more of it over time. The thought of suicide is losing a bit of it’s “bite” and slowly, it begins to seem almost acceptable.

That’s not to say that exposure to the thoughts alone would do it, but it does make one start to weigh the increasing ease of suicide against the increasing difficulty of living another day like the one before.

Add to that the burden of guilt carried by one who knows that there IS a way off of Suicide Street, but he just isn’t strong enough, smart enough or motivated enough to attempt navigation of that route. To most people, it would be called weakness of character. To the depressed person, it’s simply another reason why the world would be better of without him.

So many of us spent out lives nurturing, supporting and investing in others. That responsibility keeps us busy and alive. But what happens when you have no one to nurture, no one to support and no one in whom to invest your time? And to make matters worse, there isn’t a familiar support system in sight when you need one the most.

Think of the worst mess you ever walked in on. Remember the most daunting task of your life. Consider the most hopeless day of your life. Feel your first broken heart and do all of these things on a day when you feel as frightened as you’ve ever felt in your life. Look around for help and find none. Look for the light at the end of the tunnel and see none. Try to find the words to get yourself up and face the crisis but find none.

Now, spend days, weeks, months or years waking up to that situation…morning after morning as you peek out a little window. All you see is happy people taking care of business day after day. You desperately want what they have but you can’t seem to find a rope to climb up, much less a hand up.

Every night when you’ve failed again, think of how weak and useless you must be not to be able to help yourself. Think of the people you thought you could always count on who are nowhere to be found. Think about the fact that tomorrow is going to be more of the same. Then, as you take your evening medicine, you think to yourself, “That was easy…I could just as easily swallow more of them and just go to sleep.”

Who am I to judge anyone else now?



  1. I know what you mean. I’ve been there too.
    Maybe I’m still there now.

  2. Well darling, you aren’t alone. Sometimes my dog keeps me here.

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