Where’s the Line?

This blog might be a little harsh for those of you who have been affected by what I’m about to discuss.  So let me say, right now, that I didn’t write this to intentionally offend anyone.  I do, however, realize that this will offend some people, but the topic has been flying around me for a while, so I feel the need to discuss it.

I have no empathy for people who commit suicide.  I personally feel that committing suicide is the combination of egoism run amok, laziness, and self-pity.

The egoism comes from not thinking of how the suicide will affect those who love the person contemplating it.  Parents, siblings, friends, lovers, etc.  Suicide doesn’t only affect the person who leaves the planet.  And, if you believe in the whole ripple effect of life, it affects even more than those I’ve listed.

Case in point: my step-cousin blew his brains out all over the wall in his father’s basement several years ago.  His father was the one to find him, and had to clean up the bloody mess.  I can’t imagine the mind-f* that comes from knowing your own son killed himself, let alone that you have to clean it up.  Nor would I ever want to know what that feels like.  I doubt that image ever left my step-uncle’s head, and I remember being very angry when I heard about it, because of what he had come home to find.  That particular incident affected everyone in my family, as well as my step-cousin’s friends, and the family on his mom’s side.  And now, to a certain extent, it’s going to affect everyone who reads this blog.

The lazy part of the equation is simply that it seems that the person would rather give up on life, than sludge through the pain or grief, or whatever brought them to their “lowest” point.  Now, granted, I don’t know what sorts of things happen in a person’s life to make them consider killing themselves, let alone succeeding, but I do know that there are people out in the world who have it tougher than each person who chose to end his/her life.

Which brings me to the self-pity.  I don’t care how hard you think your life is, I can almost GUARANTEE that someone’s gone through worse.  That’s one of the things that helps get me through some of my tougher times; the knowledge that there have been others who have dealt with harder stuff, and still found a way to make it to the next day.  I’ve never really understood people who play the “poor me” card in life anyway, but for someone to cry “poor me” to the extent that s/he decides to off him/herself . . . well, that kind of disgusts me.

But let’s take my disgust and their self-pity out of the equation for a moment, and go with logic (which, yes, I know is almost never in a person’s head at that particular time).  If the suicidee (not sure if that’s the correct term or not) thinks they’re honestly at their “lowest” point, then logically there’s nowhere else to go but up!  It can’t get any worse than the lowest point.  So, if you survive that, you know you can survive anything.

There are also the spiritual repercussions of such an act to be considered.  Regardless of what path you walk, there are consequences in the after life for committing suicide.  Christianity deems it a sin (self-murder), as does Judaism, and Buddhism talks about the rule of karma coming about in the next life.

All that being said, I was a big supporter of Dr. Kavorkian and the help he gave to the elderly & terminally ill.  I think it was great that he was able to help them end their lives with some semblance of dignity, or less pain.  And, if director Tony Scott did have inoperable brain cancer (as is rumored to be the case), I can also somewhat understand why he would’ve jumped off the bridge a couple weeks ago.  Because I am in favor of euthanasia to those extents, I can see how my other opinions are a hypocrisy.

So, where is the line?  Like people who only support abortion under severe circumstances, I’ve found a caveat (in my own head) for suicides.  But does that mean that I am only in favor of euthanasia/suicide for people who have a terminal disease?  Would I really be okay with a 20 year-old offing him/herself if s/he were dying of a rare cancer and was given mere weeks to live, or would I hope s/he’d try to toughen it out, in case some wonderful cure were discovered in those weeks?  And who the hell am I to decide what makes a suicide “acceptable” anyway?

Obviously I don’t have all the answers yet . . . even for my own peace of mind.  So maybe I need to try to find a little bit of empathy for those who feel the need to end their lives, or at the very least, stop judging them for doing so.

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dana Fredsti
    Aug 31, 2012 @ 09:51:23

    I used to feel the same way you did about suicides and thought it was the ultimate in selfishness. Then I went through several really low periods in my own life where I thought very seriously about suicide because I couldn’t pull myself up from depression and despair. You literally cannot see your way out of it when this happens. I read, during one of those times, that suicide happens when the amount of pain (be it physical or emotional or both) someone is in outweigh their ability to cope with it. That resonated with me because I’d reached that point. I did not, obviously follow through on the suicidal thoughts, and part of that was yes, I thought about what it would do to those I left behind, and…well, who would take care of my kitties? But I realized that not everyone is capable of stepping outside of the pain even enough to have those thoughts. And sometimes the pain can be so very extreme, it doesn’t matter. Maybe the difference between those of us who can get that low and still think of other people has to do with an amount of empathy we have for others (some people, especially kids, are generally a lot more self-involved than others). Maybe I was not as low as I thought I was. I don’t know. But I I think until a person actually reaches that point, it’s hard to have sympathy for what does result in a lot of pain for those left behind. In other words, I have a great deal of sympathy for how you feel about it…

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Aug 31, 2012 @ 10:00:15

      Thank you, Dana, for being honest about where you’ve been! You bring up some very good points, & I totally realize that I have no understanding of what people go through to get to the point of suicide (thankfully), which is probably why the blog ended up where it did. I have always felt that, unless you’ve had to go through the anguish of deciding to have an abortion (or not), you can’t really understand what goes through a woman’s mind. So, I hope to eventually have the same outlook on suicides.

      And thanks for the kudos on being gutsy . . . I wasn’t sure if I should touch on it or not.

      Reply

  2. Dana Fredsti
    Aug 31, 2012 @ 09:52:43

    Really gutsy topic to take on, btw!

    Reply

  3. Bette Golden Lamb
    Aug 31, 2012 @ 10:24:03

    I agree with many points that you cover in your blog, but you’re speaking with a sense of purpose and having some sense of control over your life (and isn’t that an illusion?).Someone who commits suicide finds themself in a black hole of despair — alone and desperate. They see no way out and are beyond caring about anyone or anything, especially themselves. My heart goes out to the families and friends,(always wondering what they could have done to help or stop them) but I especially grieve for any person feeling so empty and lost.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Aug 31, 2012 @ 10:37:09

      You’re right, Bette, that I’m speaking from a place of absolutely no understanding of what people who get that low go through. I’m very thankful of that, but it also means that I’m blind to what might be legitimate suffering.

      It is very unfortunate that someone gets to such a low point in their life, & I hope to someday have as much empathy for them as you do. Like you, I have nothing but empathy for the friends & family who are affected by such an event.

      Thanks for stopping by today.

      Reply

  4. kaye george
    Aug 31, 2012 @ 12:16:09

    You can’t possibly what’s going through a person’s mind when they’re on the brink of suicide. I’ve been there and do understand, but it’s impossible to explain. I fully understand your anger and do think it’s a reasonable reaction. William Styron’s book, Darkness Visible, is the best account I’ve read if you do want to try to understand.

    Reply

  5. kaye george
    Aug 31, 2012 @ 12:18:29

    One more comment–depression is a sickness. You are ill when you are depressed. Unfortunately, one of the main, powerful effects of depression is a voice telling you that you are worthless, do NOT deserve to be well, and should not seek treatment. It’s VERY to help yourself when you get that way. Depressive people need very good friends who know what to do.

    Reply

  6. kaye george
    Aug 31, 2012 @ 14:38:21

    You’re welcome. (It’s not VERY to help yourself–it’s VERY HARD–)

    Reply

  7. Dolly Chamberlin
    Sep 09, 2012 @ 09:41:55

    The comment that keeps returning to me is ” . . .until I have walked a mile in his moccasins . . .”
    LOVES 🙂

    Reply

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