Every time someone well known commits suicide, the same words are taken out of the closet and brushed off. Depression kills. Get help. It’s a disease. Here’s a number. Talk to someone. You are loved. Reach out. It gets better. We need better mental health care. I understand that behind these words are good intentions, as well as a sense of looking for answers, wanting to help others, and a feeling of loss and powerlessness.
The thing is, every suicide is different. Not every suicide is caused by clinical depression. Therapy may help, but it’s not a guaranteed “cure.” Many people who commit suicide are or have been in therapy. Talking to friends can have unwanted consequences, such as the police getting involved, or the loss of, or change in, a relationship. Sometimes, people can have all the resources in the world at their disposal, but they’re ineffective, or not used, or that person has made up their mind in a way that won’t be changed. Sometimes, even people who are very well-loved — who seem to have everything in the world — just have a feeling of being “done,” and none of us can know just how long they’ve held on purely for the sake of others. Selfish? Hardly. Cowardly? No.
A bad choice? That’s a judgment the living make. The person who committed suicide obviously felt differently and very likely knew what others would think of their decision. The beliefs or thoughts of others didn’t make a difference.
I mourn with the survivors of those who decide to take their own lives. I mourn, in particular, for the young and those whom therapy, health care, or a friend might have helped. I mourn for those who impulsively commit suicide over painful, but temporary circumstances. And it probably goes without saying that I support every single preventative measure, including a better health care system.
I also respect the decision of those who decide, consciously, and often after many years of battle, to take their own lives. I realize that I did not live in their skin. Their experiences, thoughts, and circumstances were their own. The life they lived was their own, not mine, and I refuse to judge their decision of as “wrong” or “bad.”
I’ll end this with an anonymous quote I recently read that resonated: “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. From the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.” It’s not an answer, but there is no one answer. As close as people can be, as much care as there may be, and no matter how many explanations are attempted, in the end we can never know the entirety of another person’s life, or the thousands of days that went into the making of their decision to leave.