Suicide as weakness

The Trouble With Spikol is a Philly blog (local for me) about mental illness that I follow. A reader discussion began on suicide and I bit my tongue. But July says everything I could have ever wanted to say and more. See below:

"i don’t think the question is an issue of strong or weak. the time when i was perhaps closest to suicide, i felt the most in control. i was taking back choice of what happened to my life. i had choice. i could decide; i would decide. my illness was not making all the decisions for me. i was stronger. for the most part, though, suicide doesn’t seem an issue of bravery or fragility. it’s like jumping from a burning building. suicide’s what you turn to when there are no other options left.

it is easy to see the weakness – you’re suicidal when the pain of life is too much to bear any longer. it’s not considered cowardly (usually) for someone who is terminally ill to kill themselves. in that case, you’re shortening the period of suffering. it’s not a question of ‘toughing out’ a hard patch until you can get back on track.

yet with depression, there is no period of light coming on the horizon. sure, everyone says you’ll be better, you’ve gotten better before. but the things, your mind knows you can’t. you know that this is all there is, that there’s nothing left in life and nothing left you can give to life. you know that your family and friends are better without you, because you are only a burden, filled with nothing but pain. with death you can spare everyone. isn’t it stronger to sacrifice yourself for the good of all?

but then, that’s the cage of depression. the trick is getting out. and we still don’t know how. there’s no way to think yourself out of it, to ‘will’ yourself out, because you don’t even know you’re there. only in retrospect, when somehow, for some reason, something has passed, the storms have lifted, that you can even discern the outline of the bonds that held you.

yet as we all know, that period when the depression first begins to lift is often thought of as the most dangerous — when the misery still overwhelms you at every turn, yet you have enough energy to act on your desires. is suicide then an act of strength – being able to seize the moment and act before things become worse again?

ultimately, i have no idea. i know i often view suicide as an act of weakness: one that nonetheless can take great strength to complete. but it’s more a question of having no choice, yet having that strength for the final moments when you pull the trigger or twist the knife. and there are day when i take strength from knowing that i posses the fortitude (or fragility, or whatever you may call it), to take that path into my own hands if and when i most need to."

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