Skip to main content

View Diary: Demonizing Suicide Victims and Those who Mourn them is NOT Acceptable (117 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Excellent diary, thank you for writing it. (34+ / 0-)

    Nearly forty years ago a friend of mine committed suicide, and I won't go into any details about it here, because it's still too painful a place to visit at length.

    It took me years to get over the feelings of sadness, anger, guilt and fear that the same thing might happen to me.

    Only time and finding things in the world that I cared about again ended the depression.

    I know it's never easy to write about things that still hurt, even after many years. So thank you for opening up and sharing this here this evening.

    It might well save someone's life.

    Inside of me are two dogs. One is mean and evil. The other is gentle and good. The two dogs fight all the time. Which dog wins? The one I feed the most.

    by bakeneko on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 09:24:44 PM PDT

    •  What bakeneko said: Vets with whom I've worked (25+ / 0-)

      knew someone who had taken their own life. In a number of cases the Vet I was trying to help had attempted suicide but changed their mind at the last second.

      One guy had shot himself but just barely missed his heart. An Emergency Services team happened to be about 1 block away. As they pulled into farm yard, his wife discovered him and she had a heart attack. Both of them survived. When the Vet awoke and learned that his wife was in the ICU, he told me that he learned the hard way that suicide is not a lonely act. That's when his friends reached out to me.

      In another case, the Vet was badly treated while in the service and his PTSD was compounded by senior officers back in the States. He was planning to take his own life when another Vet actually did. He knew the Vet but they weren't good friends. Once my Vet saw the aftermath of the other's suicide, he vowed to me that he would never, ever go there.  

      The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

      by llbear on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 08:42:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Speaking from my own experience with suicidality.. (14+ / 0-)

        Wanting to be dead is a couple steps below making a plan to kill yourself, and a big further step below carrying out your plan. When I wanted to be dead, and went the next step to "Well, then you should be dead," I was always stopped by the thought of what that would do to my parents. But things got bad enough later to the point where I actually made a plan. To be honest, I can't remember exactly what I was thinking at the time.

        But somewhere in the whole discussion of 'suicide as selfishness' in recent days, I read something from an actual psychologist who studies this stuff (an thus is not just talking out of his ass) that most suicides are more selfless than selfish from the diseased POV of the depressive. That is, their view of their own life has sunk so low that they believe they are a drag on everyone the care about; that the world, and especially their loved ones, will be better after they are gone. This concern for releiving OTHERS of dealing with their burdens helps overcome their remaining will to live for self-preservation.

        I think that's where I was, more-or-less, when I made my plan. The thing is, when I was suffering pretty bad, I was still able to stuff it inside and hide it from most of the people I dealt with on a daily basis. But then, when things got a little worse (and I'm still pre-plan here) I couldn't hide my mood from friends, and I was a pain in the ass for them and they didn't want to deal with me. People who haven't 'been there' start out with sympathy, but it runs out pretty quickly. They all have their own problems, and hanging around you just pulls those up to the surface, bumming them out. Plus, nothing they try to say to cheer you up does any good. So eventually they all move away from you on the bench.

        Now, any person contemplating suicide is likely to be aware that suicides are mourned by testimonials to all the wonderful things they did when they were alive. Things this person feels utterly incapable of doing again. So the 'the world will be better off' is not just a wacko delusion. It's supported by 'empirical evidence'. "I'm dragging everybody down now, but when I go they'll remember the good stuff, so I'll have a positive value in death I can now only undercut in life."

        As others have suggested, the 'suicide is selfish' meme is likely a venting of anger and repression of guilt from people who have been traumatized by the suicide of someone close to them. It's a natural reaction, perhaps, but one that's also... well, ...selfish to a large degree. There COULD be something there to help the severely depressed, in reminding them that people DO care about them, and WILL feel devastating loss at their passing. But the accusation of 'selfishness' just feeds the downward spiral, "Yes, I am selfish. I totally suck. The world is better off without scum like me."

        I post this under libear's comment on the thought that the Vets who change their mind about suicide haven't been lectured at, but rather have experienced first hand the aftermath of their comrades-in-arms' suicides. And I'm wondering if there are some principles here for more general suicide prevention strategies. Instead of telling depressives "don't be selfish", tell them "I know you think you're dragging everybody down, and yeah to some extent you are right now, but they still care about you, and they will be very hurt if you die, and that means you still matter despite how things may appear, and you might want to try to walk in those moccasins for awhile to see the value you bring to the world."

        It would be great if the people around the severely depressed could hang in there and relieve the isolation without reacting in ways that make the depressive feel worse from bringing others down, but I doubt that's realistic. The friends probably do have to establish some distance for the sake of their own sanity. The problem may be more HOW this distance gets created. The annoyed friend may get pissed-off at the down-bringer, or just want to avoid the issue and drift silently away.

        Maybe a more compassionate and sympathetic distancing would be possible, and if not helpful, at least do the least harm, "I wish I was strong enough to be there for you, but I've got my own problems and I just can't handle yours too right now. I have to take a break. It's not your fault. You didn't ask for this disease. Please understand that I do care about you, and I always will. You're a really good person, even if you can't see that right now, or always act on that right now. I can't see the future, but I've lived through enough to know that now is just now, and tomorrow might be different. Please, for me, hang in there, no matter how long it takes. I'm never not going to want my friend back..."

        Or something like that... (just thinking out loud, FWIW, YMMV, etc...)

        •  Keep reaching (8+ / 0-)

          I remember from about fifty years ago suicide was generally thought of in the professional community into which I had tumbled as a patient as an ultimate act of anger and retribution against family/friends/whoever. I still remember my first psychiatrist pronouncing at me that all my troubles arose because I hated my father, and thinking, "No, Dr. Christopher Hodges [yes, I can remember his name] that's not really what it's all about." And so the messy science of psychology has unchained itself from Freud and that crew regarding suicide. And maybe as more of us survivors of one type or another come up, and as the victims lamentably pile up, the thinking about it will get turned around and the peculiar amalgam between circumstances and brain chemistry that lead to the act will be successfully addressed. Sometimes.

        •  I want to make something very, very clear (8+ / 0-)

          I never was nor am I now a qualified suicide prevention counselor. Here's what I did when on the phone with a Vet who started down that dark road:

          1. Look for his or her friends mentioned in my notes & immediately contact them, explain the situation and ask them to call the local police. The Vet would remain on the line and I would ask questions, placing him on mute while I made the call or calls.

          2. If I didn't find any quick response from them, I immediately called the law enforcement office nearest the Vet. I quickly explained the situation and asked that an officer go to the Vet not using his/her siren. Then I would try to get someone from the suicide prevention hot line patched into my conversation with the Vet. Most of the time the suicide prevention counselor just monitored the Vet and I while activating expert people in the area.

          It's been 3 years since my last involvement. I am no longer capable of handling that kind of emergency.

          The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

          by llbear on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 08:16:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I lost 2 friends (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LSophia, historys mysteries

        Both vets to suicide...

        Both of them only children......

        I am still sad about this and one of my personal missions as an NP is to make sure I help people find the help they need.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

  • Recommended (144)
  • Community (68)
  • Elections (42)
  • Bernie Sanders (39)
  • Environment (38)
  • 2016 (38)
  • Hillary Clinton (33)
  • Culture (31)
  • Media (30)
  • Republicans (29)
  • Climate Change (29)
  • Education (24)
  • Spam (23)
  • Congress (23)
  • Barack Obama (22)
  • Civil Rights (22)
  • Labor (22)
  • Science (21)
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership (21)
  • Texas (20)
  • Click here for the mobile view of the site