A RECENT Op-ed article in the local media stated, “Suicide is one of the most selfish and cruel acts that any human being can commit…”. Nothing is further from the truth and such a response reveals absolute ignorance about mental health problems. The Caribbean Voice fervently wishes that journalists and columnists would do the research and get the facts before writing about social issues such as suicide since, writing from a basis of ignorance is insensitive to suicide victims and survivors and causes more harm, no matter how well meaning..
The reality is that suicide is a desperate act by someone who is in intense pain and wants the pain to stop. That is a human response to extreme pain, not a selfish one. And over 90 percent of the people who die by suicide have a mental illness at the time of their death, so they are not thinking clearly or logically. In effect, a normal person cannot apply his/her thinking process to label suicide victims or survivors because a normal person’s thinking would be entirely different.
As a suicide survivor stated in an article in Huffington Post, October 12, 2014, “Suicide is a decision made out of desperation, hopelessness, isolation and loneliness. The black hole that is clinical depression is all-consuming. Feeling like a burden to loved ones, feeling like there is no way out, feeling trapped and feeling isolated, are all common among people who suffer from depression.”
This statement also makes it clear that suicide is not an act of cruelty to loved ones but an act that seeks to relieve loved ones of a burden and all that is associated with that burden. The writer of that Huffington Post article, Katie Hurley, also states, “Until you’ve stared down that level of depression, until you’ve lost your soul to a sea of emptiness and darkness… you don’t get to make those judgments. You might not understand it, and you are certainly entitled to your own feelings, but making those judgements and spreading that kind of negativity won’t help the next person. In fact, it will only hurt others.”
As loved ones of suicide victims, as suicide survivors, as suicide prevention activists, and as clinical psychologists and counsellors, various members of The Caribbean Voice know, through experience, the realities of suicide and so we beg all and sundry who want to write on or speak about suicide to not do so without knowing the facts, without speaking with suicide survivors and without understanding how mental health issues affect the thinking process.
The Caribbean Voice