The Mighty Logo

When You Really Think Your Family Would Be Better Off Without You

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

I’ve struggled with severe depression since I was about 12 years old. I have been hospitalized three times for depression and suicidal ideation with the most recent time being in 2014 after a suicide attempt.

I wanted to die. I just didn’t want to be anymore. I knew — not just thought, knew — my family would be better off without me. There was no convincing me otherwise. I thought my family would have a more “normal” life without me. My mother wouldn’t have to worry about my frantic phone calls where I just sobbed and barely even spoke. Life would be so much better for everyone without me. It wasn’t just a feeling though. In my head, I knew it as fact. It was a relief for me to think of dying because it felt like my only way out.

My depression had taken me to a place that was not only dark and scary, but it fed me lies about myself and my reality. No amount of talking to me would make a difference. People tried, but it only made me feel more like dying when I was told if I killed myself my family would be devastated. I was already causing the devastation by being alive. The way I understood it was if I lived they would have to deal with me being so sick and mentally disturbed forever. But, if I died their pain would only last a little while and then their lives would go on. To me, it made perfect sense.

When I survived my suicide attempt, I was left with was an enormous sense of shame. This brought on a different kind of depression; a more desperate depression and a feeling of complete and total brokenness.

Today, I am glad I didn’t die. I am glad I’m living. However, it isn’t always easy for me to feel happy to be alive. It isn’t always that easy for so many others living with depression and mental illness either. One of the most hurtful things I was told by other people when I was battling my own suicidal mind, was that suicide is selfish. Hearing that only made me feel more guilty and more ashamed. I wasn’t being selfish. I honestly believed I was being unselfish by trying bring peace to my family. I didn’t want them to suffer the roller coaster ride of my emotional distress anymore. I knew the excruciating mental pain and torment that was happening inside my head and I could only imagine how hard that was for them to watch from the sidelines. I wasn’t being selfish to want to remove myself and stop causing the people I loved so much pain. I wanted to help them heal, even when I couldn’t.

I feel differently about wanting to die today. I don’t want to take my life. However, I still don’t believe that those who do are selfish. I think they are in so much pain, and that pain causes you to think of options that you might not normally think of because all you want is for the pain to stop and it doesn’t really matter how. I believe they are looking for a permanent solution because the pain doesn’t feel temporary, even if it is.

I understand the lasting affects suicide has on those who are left, although when my depression takes me into the darkest of places one of my first instincts is still to end my life so others don’t have to worry about me. Even at my lowest I am still trying to fix everyone else. The reality is though, now I look at suicide a little differently than I did before. I know I would be leaving my family and friends with is a tremendous amount of guilt and pain knowing they won’t have one more opportunity to try and help.

That’s not leaving them with peace, just more sadness.

Editor’s note: If you can relate to this piece, you’re not alone. It is possible to live through suicidal thoughts and urges, and you deserve to live. If you need more support, please check out the resources below, or read more stories from people who’ve been there: 

Originally published: April 5, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home