Trigger warning: suicide
Suicide is not a sign of weakness. It is a symptom of an illness.
Far too often someone will say suicide is rooted in weakness. It could easily seem that way from the outside looking in. Appearing as if that person decided to give up without a fight.
The problem is forgetting that mental illnesses are medical illnesses. If someone were to die of any other medical condition, whether willfully or not, we wouldn’t refer to them as weak.
There are those struggling under the insurmountable weight of their illnesses. Sometimes that person makes a very difficult decision to stop their treatment. That treatment may save or at least prolong their life. Perhaps the decision isn’t about surviving but the quality of life they would be living.
Does the decision to discontinue treatment make that person weak? In reality, the treatment can seem worse than the illness itself. Maybe those afflicted no longer wish to suffer or in turn have those they love watch them suffer.
I can relate.
I was ill, specifically mentally ill. I had been putting up a fight with all I had for as long as I felt I could. Both times I was not in therapy or properly medicated. There was a darkness inside me that made it impossible for me to see anything positive, bright, or beautiful. I was hurting a hurt I could not show anyone because it was within me. The only thing playing over and over in my head was that it would never get better. I believed things would never change.
What was I thinking at the time? I wasn’t thinking. I was feeling all the feelings amplified about a thousand times. I wanted a way to shut it all out. I desperately wanted to close my eyes and never open them again.
I wasn’t weak, I was sick. I needed medical care. This medical care came afterwards over the course of the next several years. I worked with various medical professionals, family, friends, and support groups to get healthier.
I don’t think I was ever weak, just varying degrees of well and unwell.
Wellness isn’t synonymous with strength or illness synonymous with weakness.
It’s important to recognize that each person has their own personal limitations and capacities which have nothing to do with weaknesses. Unfortunately, sometimes some of us are pushed past our own capacities to the point that we may fracture.
I was fortunate enough to survive both of my attempts and put in the work to heal my fractures. Not everyone has that opportunity.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal ideation, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255.