Why You Shouldn’t Kill Yourself

This weekend, I was dithering around on Twitter, and I came across this post by media thinker Jay Rosen: “The Year in PressThink: These Are the Ten Best Things I Wrote in 2010.” That made me think what were the best posts of the year on my blog. Which in turn made me think what the most commonly searched terms are that bring people to my blog. Other than the ones that come in the middle of the night when a Playboy TV show that I used to be on reruns, which are basically “susannah breslin naked” and “susannah breslin porn,” people come to read a post I wrote on my old blog a couple year ago about a pornographer named Max Hardcore, which I republished on my current blog, or they come looking for pictures of an American Apparel ad I used to have on my old blog which features porn star Sasha Grey‘s pubic hair, or they come by searching “how to gas myself.”

The last is a reference to a post I wrote this year, “On Suicide.” It was written on the occasion of five years before going through a period in which I wanted to kill myself. When I first posted it, I received quite a few very moving emails. There were ones that were kind to me, for having survived that or been through that or what have you, and then there were ones from people whose loved ones had attempted to kill themselves or succeeded in doing so. One said that my post had helped them understand why this person had done what they had done, so it was a time when I felt like I had posted something that mattered, if only for a while.

But over time, I would increasingly see people coming to my blog because they were using Google to try and figure out how to gas themselves. When I wanted to kill myself, this was my primary interest, the idea of gassing myself. Most of the time, they came at night. And I wondered what they were thinking, or where they were, or what they thought of what they had found. Was my post helpful? Certainly, it wasn’t instructional. But had it dissuaded them, or not affected them, or had they clicked on to something else? And then what had happened? I don’t know, because I never heard from any of them.

More recently, I have noticed the number of people looking for “how to gas myself” has increased. There are several reasons why this may be the case, but it may in part be on account of the holidays, which apparently have lower suicide rates, but which can also be very depressing.

I wondered what I could I tell them. Don’t? I thought about telling them that it gets better, but the gays pretty much own that. Or I could quote that line from “Cast Away,” where Tom Hanks gets off the island and recounts to his friend how he survived being so alone for so long, even when he almost killed himself: “You just have to keep on breathing because tomorrow the sun will rise and who knows what the tide will bring.”

This Isn’t Happiness says: “All that matters is: What are you going to do, right now?” Mostly, I think this is the truest thing. That all you have to do is not kill yourself right now, in this moment. And then in the next moment, you don’t kill yourself again. And you keep on going like that, moment after moment, not killing yourself. Until those moments become minutes, and those minutes become hours, and those hours become days, and those days become years. And you are alive. TC mark


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  • http://twitter.com/srslydrew Drew Farr

    I might bookmark this. Thank you.

  • Matt

    Insane. I just came upstairs, got into bed, and placed a bottle of pills on my nightstand. With tears literally streaming down my face I a caught a glimpse of a Thought Catalog link on Twitter; that link brought me here.

    The human race and its associated [Americanized] civilization has evolved into what we experience today. Throughout all time certain genetic defects have forced a percentage of every population, of a given species, to die off; there is nothing sinister at play. It very well may be that those of us who experience a certain level of depression are simply exhibiting a genetic trait that makes it exceedingly difficult to function within our evolved society. Instead of depression what if this defect exhibited itself as an inability to sustain life given available resources? Over time these individuals would eventually die out; they would simply require too much of society.

    Depression could very well be evolution's way of ensuring that certain traits cease to be passed on. If such a genetic marker existed, certain suicides could no longer be viewed as evil, wrong, or acts of selfishness… they'd just be. What else could you expect from someone who is genetically predisposed to a specified action? Who is to say that extreme depression is not a terminal illness? How much pain and mental anguish should someone have to suffer before they are able to make their own decisions as to whether or not their lives are worth living?

    Knowing that I am loved by external sources is comforting and helpful. That said, no amount of external love holds more sway than sincere and utter self-hate/loathing (which happens to be the way my depression manifests itself).

    If I don't kill myself in this moment (as you suggest) I will experience pain. Will tomorrow be better? Probably. But my depression is chronic – I'll be back here before I know it. Sooner or later it will be more than I can handle. I feel as though my death is a forgone conclusion. Is my situation “sad” or unique? I do not believe it is. The only downside to my death is that it will crush my family and friends. But the depressive mind can rationalize anything… “in the long run they will be better off without me”, “only a weak person would knowingly allow themselves to burden their family with their depression”, etc.

    • # SisterWolf

      Matt, I hope you are still here, alive and kicking. Don't give up! There may be meds that will work for you. Depression is not expedient for evolution; that has been repudiated.

      Your self-loathing is bad brain chemistry, and not based on fact. The people who love you can help.

    • Shuaib

      Matt, as much as it may seem these days, evolution is not a religion. It’s a scientific theory used to rationalize our observations of living things adapting, over generations, to the constraints of their environment. 

      To posit that depression is evolution’s way of rooting out bad traits, is giving the idea of evolution too much credit. Evolution isn’t “God”, and it isn’t our duty to execute what we think are it’s orders. 

      Rationality and science are limited in the comfort the can give us and getting too wrapped up in rationalization can spin you into some very dark corners, I know.

      My advice to you, friend, is to find something at least one thing you enjoy doing. Even if you suck, just try it. Sports are great, music is great, drawing, painting, all those are awesome things to try. Doing something creative is also sometimes a good cure for depression. And doing things with other people can also help. Try volunteering, one of the best ways to have a meaningful life is to use it to help someone else. It might just give you one more thing to life for.

      It’s good that you’re thinking of your family and friends, they’re an anchor you can use in your lowest points of life. From seeing and hearing stories about families who’ve suffered a suicide, they’re changed forever and it’s a pain that most people don’t ever recover from. Weigh that with any momentary annoyance you think they might suffer if you’re around and have problems to share. They don’t even match up.

      Human beings are incredibly smart and resourceful, you CAN improve your life and make it a meaningful one. You don’t have to do it alone. There are other people who’ve been where you are and made it out. 

  • Charles

    You are so right with that last paragraph. I too have had thoughts of dying for a few months now, and in regards to your older post (“On Suicide”), the clarity of the thought is definitely the scariest part. I haven't had anyone in my life die or any traumatic experiences; I went through a bad breakup and a tough time last year, but otherwise I just haven't been happy lately, and have been thinking too much about life…so it's more existential reasons. Which I acknowledge sounds immensely juvenile and silly, but the thought is always there, and I just decide to keep trying for longer or shorter periods of time. The constant trying gets harder and harder until it just turns into an acceptance that I still have people who love me and would care if I was gone. There's also a primal part deep down that just needs to keep surviving, for one reason or another.

    I'm not mentally on that edge people are who sit staring at the pill bottle, but the fact that I've brought this idea into my head and don't know how to make it go away is really, really hard. Thanks for this post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carlos-Ortiz/1279921705 Carlos Ortiz

    I've been wishing I was dead at least once everyday for the past 2 or 3 years, as time goes by I grow more fond of the idea of not being alive.
    I know I will die one day anyways so I should be grateful and enjoy life and live accordingly, but I just feel dissatisfied and hopeless, bleak and noneffective, disillusioned, etc..
    I think part of me feeling this way may be due to an untreated illness which I hold no practical hope of overcoming, due to what I've read online about it.

    • Faerie

      Perhaps you should get treatment? I've been suicidal for years and finally ended up in a mental hospital, got a correct diagnosis, some great meds, and now I'm content with life.

  • A Fan

    That last paragraph is pretty much what I've been doing, and it's really good to know I'm on the right track. Thank you.

    PS. I love the way you write.

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