I tend to have the same visceral reaction as your parents, though I try to remind myself that mental illness is real and can be fatal. I think it has to do with having seen so many people who would have given anything for a few more years, months, or even weeks of life and who departed earlier than they wanted. But I can see your point also -- yes mental illness is an awful situation, and no suicide does not mean that the person committing it sucks.
such a hard issue. I think you are right - many people still struggle, on a visceral (like A said), if not on an intellectual, level, to think of suicide as a "real" illness, just as real as cancer or heart disease that took someone before they or their family/loved ones were ready. But mental illness is so real, and so painful, and suicidal thoughts are impossible to really understand unless you've experienced them yourself. "Choosing" to depart from this life is not something you do if unless the alternative - staying - is just too awful to contemplate any longer.
2018-07-30 9:23 AM
I've never heard anyone say anything about it being a selfish act. But the element of choice is there, so yes, how can he/she do this to their family. The ones left behind not only have grief, but the idea that they have not loved deeply enough, or somehow could have done something to prevent it. This is going under the assumption that the choice was made while the person was in their right mind, ie rational. That whole train of thought takes mental illness out of the occasion. Even understanding mental illness, there is a huge dichotomy in trying to come to terms mentally and emotionally with suicide. There is the aspect of dealing with your own feelings ("you hurt me, you chose this, I am sad and grieving", and really needing someone to blame.) So there is a struggle of wanting to blame the person for your pain on the emotional side, while wanting to understand logically how this happened and came about, to be empathetic to the person who is no longer there to question or to soothe.
Most people really don't understand depression and understand suicide ideation even less. It was a surprise to me to find out that suicide ideation was even a thing, much less something some people deal with without depression. My sister says that most suicides are a spur decision, so not a lot of thought given, but more impulsive. I am starting to believe that suicide ideation more closely resembles OCD than I would have thought. She also works for Amgen and they were working on a medication and they were in clinical trials and found that it increased suicide ideation. They stopped trials and didn't work on the drug after that. The surprising thing was that the drug was for something entirely different (I think ulcers? I can't remember), and did not cross the blood brain barrier. So there is a lot to learn still on the medical front about what factors into suicide ideation. I know that certain drugs for depression can increase suicide ideation in the young. I recently learned that my cousin, who was 40, was on 2 different medications for depression, but that they were known as a suicide cocktail and were never to be prescribed together. He committed suicide, leaving behind a wife and twin 12 year old boys. So, yes, everyone was thinking, "How could he leave those kids?" There is also the religious element, I am sure, where that is a mortal sin. This all assumes it is a logical, rational choice and not what it really is. People were also dismayed, as his wife was gone 30 minutes and came back home to find him dead. So, why didn't he say something? Why didn't he talk to her, ask for help? Was he planning it and waiting for her to be gone? The logical side assumes everyone is being logical all the time, and fails to understand another's emotions.
As you can see, I have thought a lot about this in the last 2 years.
2018-07-30 10:17 AM
I worked for four years on a suicide hotline and I'm married to a therapist (and have other more personal experience that I don't want to talk about on an internet forum). Suicidal ideation (SI) is often masked and hidden deep. It makes a lot of people uncomfortable to talk about, and so the person with SI may not talk to those close to them for fear of how they will react. It is judgements like calling suicide "selfish" that continue to stigmatize mental health and make it harder for people who are depressed or have SI to talk about it. Suicide is a desperate act. It is often impulsive, not planned. Those who spend time making a plan, etc also have more time to ask for help and disrupt the desire to follow through. And "seeming depressed" is an interesting term. Depression has a lot of faces, and people wear masks. Don't under estimate what is going on beneath the surface.
There have been a lot of internet memes recently that say "if you feel suicidal, call me, I'll listen". They miss the mark. A person who is suicidal has a very hard time reaching out. I reposted a FB post a few weeks ago that said this""Instead of reaching out to your suicidal friends with a paragraph of “hi don’t kill yourself because we love you”, try reaching out like “hey I got you some Taco Bell we don’t have to talk I just want to come nap with you at your house” or “hey this meme reminds me of you” or “hey I know you haven’t been feeling great can I do your dishes and order you a pizza to make life a little less overwhelming"
What she's saying is true.
Mental illness is a potentially fatal disease. I wish our culture would treat it like other potentially fatal diseases, that require health services and community support.