Suicide: a deal you never truly want to make
My father calls suicide the most selfish of acts. So why would anyone do it?
Very rarely, like most people, I have a darker moment: a bad day, a broken heart, a dread over facing the nightmares and memories that rise up in sleep. And it leads to those few numb moments of asking: “Can I?”
A long time ago, I had a very dark episode. Can I, my brain asked my body, stepping into the road as a car lurched forward. It’s just a metre, maybe less. I could make all this stop.
I overrode the temptation and smiled at the driver from the curb, mascara smudged tears filling my septum. The shame at having thought of doing that, the unspeakable act that would break and shatter my family forever, lingered all evening.
You’ll have the same thoughts at the very worst of your sadnesses, heartbreak, disappointments and fears. Just jump in front of the train. Just take all of your paracetamol and ibroprofen. Just take your belt and wrap it around the ceiling lamp. It’ll be over so fast. You could do it. You could do it. But you won’t.
Because really, you don’t want death. I very much doubt that anyone truly wants death. What you really want in a suicidal moment is for the world to stop. You want the fear and panic and jealousy and pain and shame to stop.
Death is final, and thus offers some kind of halt to it all, yes, but what you really want within that is a different reality. A reality where the world goes on, problems and joys and all, but you don’t. You are removed of responsibility and feeling, left with a neat exit clause on grades, ex girlfriends, deadlines, social tyrants, chores, emails, bills, mortgages, husbands and the ghosts in your head. That’s what the appeal is. But death offers a heavy sub-clause to the deal: ending.
And ending is what puts me off on the curb at 11pm. Ending is the bill too far when I stand on the platform of the station. Ending is what makes me shut the draw on my pills at 3am after a long day. I don’t want to end. My story isn’t over yet. I want to do so much more. I want to live.
I want more chapters, and more laughter, and more love, and more adventures, and more experiences. I want to smile and laugh and joke and feel. I want to see Spring again and I want to feel the snow against my cheek. I want to hear my little sister tell me about her school trips on the phone, and I want to be there to hold her when she cries. I don’t want to die. I refuse to die. The cost is too great.
So I’ll go home and sob like a teenager into my pillow and smear the bedsheets with eye shadow. I’ll scream and scream and scream until there’s nothing left in my voice and I sound awful for a week. But I won’t hurt myself. I’ll never try to end Madelaine Hanson. This girl will live. Whatever the world throws at me, I will and must overcome.
However dark things are, however filled with gloom and despair and dreadful tomorrows, you can and will live. Find the crevasses of light in the emptiness. Even if you have to claw at the walls that box you in, find the small joys that are always there among the worst failures.
The blackbirds still sing in the morning, the skies are still filled with stars and the earth spins on and on, however bitter your day had been. You have felt joy and you will again. You have felt love, and you will again. You are so, so worthy of another chapter. You are not useless. You are never over. You are never finished. You have merely found a dead end and need to spend some time walking back to the right path.
Success was never about how quickly you got there. You can live and you can succeed. Your success is never a matter of money or status or marriage.
Let me finish by telling you the story of a successful man.
Shiloh is an elderly man now, and a successful man. I have never known anyone as loved as Shiloh. Yes, he’s rich. He’s done well in property, he’s done well in law. Sure, he’s well regarded in our community and he has a wise, beautiful wife. Smart, witty too. But no one ever says that of him behind his back. Do you know what they say? They say: “How kind he is! Do you know what he did for me?”
And no matter how famous, successful or powerful the speaker may be, their eyes will fill with joy and tears when they tell you how kind Shiloh is. That’s all anyone can say. How good he is in everything he does. Even I, a distant sort of niece, have my ‘How Kind Uncle Shiloh Is’ story, and so do many of my friends. Shiloh is successful because Shiloh is kind.
And we can all be kind.
So: be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. No matter how poor, stressed, sad or in pain you are, we can all be kind. Treasure kindness. Practice it and praise it. Kindness is the light in our lives that keeps us from wanting an ending.
Because, truly, you don’t really want to sign for the heavy price of your death.