Why Suicide is Not Selfish

**Trigger Warning**

Well where do I start with this. Maybe first let me start by telling why I feel I’m qualified to talk about this and why I have a very unique perspective.

I have a BA in psychology, I’ve worked in mental health for over 10 years, I have bipolar disorder, I’ve had several depressive episodes and 2 suicide attempts. My father also died to suicide.

Now let me start off by saying I’m not condoning suicide. I don’t think it’s ever the answer and it doesn’t solve anything. I’ve heard someone say “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”. I’m just going to make an attempt at showing you my thought process, and perhaps a similar thought process in others when they make that decision.

One thing that really resonated with me in university while I was studying psychology, was that “mental illness distorts your perception of reality”. (Now depression IS a mental illness which apparently some people don’t know. For some reason depression, and anxiety for that matter, seems to be the more socially accepted forms of mental illness from what I’ve seen).

Mental illness, depression in this case, is almost like a lens that affects our perceptions, feelings, beliefs and eventually behaviours. We all see things through a lens regardless of whether we have a mental illness or not. We believe certain truths. Some people see themselves trough a lens where life is good and good things will happen to them. This affects their perceptions, feelings, beliefs and behaviours. Usually this is me when I’m well. I see the world with optimism and happiness. I love life, love God, I love helping people and serving others. Standing in the rain makes me happy when I’m well. I’m so happy to be present in that moment (because due to my illness there have been times when I have not been able to be present in each moment so I really am grateful and appreciative of that now). Making people happy and making them laugh warms my heart. Interacting with people and learning about them makes me happy. Simple things make me so happy so it’s really not hard for me to stay in that place. I’m a very rational and logical thinker. Close with my mother. She’s my best friend and I would never want to do anything to hurt her.. or hurt any of the people around me. I’m an empath so the thought of hurting others literally hurts me. I believe that although some people do hurtful things, overall the world is a good place and i hope for the best from people. I try to see the good in people. I love animals and they make me smile. I love children and they make me smile. I love my dog and he makes me smile and laugh. I love my family and friends. I’m successful and driven and I’m always striving for more. Generally a happy person.

So now that you know the way I usually am, let me show you a little of my thought process when I’m depressed/suicidal. Let me just make it clear that following description of my thought process is NOT the way I’m feeling or thinking currently!!! Im NOT depressed or suicidal right now! [ when I’m depressed, I usually start focusing on my pain from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence. I fixate and obsess over it. I focus on the evil that’s been inflicted upon me. I think the world is an awful place and if people close to me have hurt me other people will too. The world is not safe. I am not safe. My pain will never end. I feel numb and dead inside anyway.. I’m a burden to my family and they’re better off without me. I’m doing them a favour by leaving them. They must hate me and be sick of me. They’re disgusted with me. I can’t take the emotional pain I’m in. The pain will never end.. never end.. never end.. never end.. I have to do something to end the pain.. I can’t take it anymore things will never change and I’ll be hurting forever. I’m such a failure. I can’t do anything right. People probably laugh at me because I’m pathetic. I can’t take this pain.. can’t take this pain. It will never go away].

That’s hard for me to read but that’s the way I thought. Notice a lot of these things I believed were not true.. but the depression distorted my perception of reality! I believed my pain would never end. That was not true but I believed to to be true. I believed that my family hated me and would be better off without me. That’s not true but I believed it to be so. So eventually I made a decision to attempt suicide not based on the reality of my situation, but based on my distorted perceptions of the world and my life and my situation due to my mental illness.

So my attempt wasn’t out of selfishness. I wasn’t thinking “I’m having a bad day so let me do something that will hurt, destroy and devastate the people around me who care about me” I didn’t believe anyone cared. I thought they’d be better off with out me. That was my perception of reality at the time. It seemed so real! That’s the scary thing. The fact that it seemed so logical at the time to make such an awful and permanent decision.

Since then I’ve had 11 years of therapy. Working through a lot of my trauma issues has really helped a lot. I’ve still gotten into the place of having suicidal thoughts after my first two attempts but I haven’t acted on them. I’ve learned a lot of healthy coping mechanisms. I’ve also learned how powerful my mind is. Like if I sit in my room and start thinking those negative self destructive thoughts, within a few hours I can bring myself down to a dangerous place. Like if I fixate on the abuse and how awful my life has been at times, it just starts this downward spiral into feeling depressed and suicidal. But I’ve learned to redirect my focus in those moments. I’ll play with my dog or go for a walk, talk to s friend, take a shower. Those simple things can stop the downward spiral. Even when I’ve gotten to a place when I’ve had suicidal thoughts I just tell myself “this is the illness making me think these thoughts are rational. It’s not real.” When I come out of it I’m still shocked at how real those thoughts seemed.

So I hope this gives you some insight into the thought process of someone who’s suicidal. This someone anyway.. It hurts my heart when I hear people say it was selfish when a person dies to suicide. All I can do is think of all the pain the person had to be in to make that decision.

So all in all I’m doing very well now. I do have negative thoughts sometimes, but not suicidal ones. That’s progress! I love myself, which I didn’t before so I’m very happy about that. It took years and years of work but I’m doing very well. I have a career in mental health, my own business, happy and healthy relationships and a healthy and rational outlook on life.

If you have depression, suicidal thoughts or negative thoughts about yourself, please talk to someone and get help. It will get better and there are people trained to help you through it. I had suicidal thoughts on and off for 15 years before I had therapy! Please don’t wait 15 years like me. It really is a life and death situation.

Canada Suicide Prevention Hotline


US Suicide Prevention Lifeline


Peace & Blessings

Emelle Q


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