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Understand This Before Judging Someone Who Died by Suicide

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts or live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.


After every death by suicide or misadventure comes an onslaught of familiar comments. Mostly well-meaning and kind-hearted comments, but ones that also make me want to scream.

Lately, too many of these such losses have been quite close to home. The first, around a month ago was one link away via mutual friends who were left devastated, with circumstances that resonated a little too much. The second was quite close to heart and I am still struggling to comprehend it. The third most recently made the news of my small, local hometown. All of them have me poignant somewhat numb, and extremely sad. All of them were individuals who seem precious and have left a space, an ache.

Everyone reacts differently to shock and grief. No way of trying to cope, adjust or regroup is “wrong” or anything to be ashamed of under the circumstances. But there are some people who will understand the pull of mental illness, and some who just cannot. There is no fault here, but I want to offer some words of clarity. Words I feel the need to say.

The truth is depression does not care if you are young and full of promise and potential. It does not consider you have so much more to experience in life or that throwing your future away is “such a tragic waste.” Neither will it grasp that you have money, a good job, a loving family or privilege over others.

Debilitating anxiety cannot rationalize that things can pass and get better, that those moments of sheer terror will not overwhelm you. It will not comprehend there are good sources of help to be found, sources of valuable support and health professionals willing to listen.

Eating disorders are blind to the concept of existing without starving or harming yourself in an attempt to shrink. At their worst, they will not allow you to see you you deserve anything more but that constant misery. Anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder or diabulimia: they all have the potential to diminish your sense of worth to dust and stomp all over it.

When mental illness is at its most unrelenting and ferocious, it simply does not give a shit about anything besides a destruction, whether that be a way to cope or an end goal. It will take any opportunity it can to knock you over, and with every swing and punch you fall further down, further away, until you’re left with a bashed-up broken brain that cannot think straight.

I can see how it can get to the point where someone can feel like they’ve no other option, no strength left to fight. That is not a sign of being flawed or any kind of weakness. Rather, it is the full-force impact of defeated by something too powerful and suffocating, like a lump of coal clogging your throat.

Most of all, a message to the people who don’t understand: suicide is not “stupid” or selfish or ungrateful. Those views are vile and completely ignorant. Also, media sources: please take note that in this age describing suicide or attempted suicide with the damnation of “commit” is unacceptable, as it is no longer a criminal offense and has not been classed as such since 1961.

To the aforementioned: you are not that person, you have no right to pass judgment on them. You likely have not stood where they have or seen or thought what they have. In essence, what it essentially comes down to is that severe mental illness can blot out facts like thickly-splodged Tipp-Ex over errors in a letter.

It’s a fucking parasite of a thing to have to battle. Some do it every single day, and it can hurt like hell.

If you are one of those people, then try to hold on with the tightest grip you can, and try to remember despite the creeping, dark shadows and the trailing whispers or smoke, you are not doing it alone.

Unsplash image by Joshua Rawson Harris

Originally published: December 18, 2019
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