Sunday Guest Post – Selfish?

Today, I’m going to quote a part of a longer piece that a friend of mine wrote back in 2008. She is one of the most eloquent writers about depression, suicide, and life in general that I’ve ever met, and her experiences with being suicidal and tearing her way through and out of it are invaluable to those of us who are looking for understanding. The whole piece is here.

If suicide’s an act that a person chooses, it’s not one most people choose with all of their faculties intact, and it must not be judged as such.

A suicidal person is not any more selfish than any person who demands relief from terrible pain. It is not selfish to demand help if you are sick and in agony. It is selfish, however, to expect others to endure pain without complaint. It is doubly selfish, and cruel as well, to tell a depressed or suicidal person that they are being selfish simply for having those feelings, or to tell a person that their pain is unimportant because it is not a physical pain.

I think that the “suffering is noble” myth also contributes to the perception of suicide as selfish; suffering is seen as something you just have to endure. Everyone has to put up with it, why should you be any different? This is bullshit, and I will go on about it at length in a different post. At any rate, it is often seen as ignoble and weak to “give up” by committing suicide.

But it’s not morally weak to break.

The thing about depression is that you don’t get a choice about how you feel. It is a disease. An illness. You can no more blame a depressed person for “giving in” to depression than you can blame someone for “giving in” to any other deadly disease. You can’t hold a person morally responsible for the symptoms of an illness. And you can’t blame them for catching the disease in the first place; it’s not something people choose to experience, or can choose not to experience. We don’t bring it on ourselves.

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