Monday, 9 January 2017

Mental Health Monday: Is suicide selfish and cowardly?

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Much the same as Friday Favourite, I thought I would also start a new theme for my Monday blog posts: mental health. This is obviously one of the main subjects of my blog, but I think recently, as I have been so well, I haven't been talking as often about it. And I'm still so passionate about mental health - I want to help others as much as possible.

One thing that I have thought a lot about more recently is still a very taboo subject: suicide. When I wrote my blog post about my overdose back in October I was overwhelmed with the positive reaction that it received from friends, family and strangers. And it made me think that suicide and self-harm is a topic that should be discussed more openly, and more often. Please don't read on if this may trigger you, as I am not going to mince my words because I think this is such an important subject.

There is still such a stigma around suicide - that it is 'selfish' and 'cowardly'. A 'quick and easy way out' for someone, who is 'not thinking about other people'.

Well let me tell you, my overdose was not easy. It was not easy to get to the point where I wanted to kill myself. It was not easy to choose how I wanted to kill myself. In fact, it was something that I was thinking about for a long time, before I finally plucked up the courage to be able to do it, and a couple of factors happened that finally pushed me over the edge. I had suffered with suicidal thoughts for years before I decided to do anything about them, and I used to think about all the different ways that I could hurt myself - but I didn't act on them because I wasn't brave enough. I was too cowardly to commit suicide.

The other massive factor that always stopped me from hurting myself was my loved ones. Deep down, I always knew that it would crush them if anything happened to me. In fact, it would probably rip my family apart. However, on the day that I decided to take my overdose I genuinely believed that everyone would be better off without me. I thought killing myself would be the kindest thing for my family and friends, because I was 'such a horrible person' that didn't deserve to live. I wasn't being selfish - in fact, I think it was one of my most benevolent and unselfish moments as I couldn't stop thinking about how everybody would be better off if I wasn't in the world anymore.

So I guess the moral of the story is that suicide is not selfish or cowardly. If it was cowardly, I would have attempted it a lot sooner - but I was afraid of dying up until the day of my overdose. I think that more people need to realise that depression, and any other mental illness that leads to suicide, is something to take seriously, and something that needs a very sensitive approach.

Thankfully, I have not had any suicidal thoughts for a long time. If I'm completely honest, sometimes they can still be my coping mechanism if I become especially upset. I think my mind was so used to thinking about ways to kill myself, that it occasionally reverts back to it in times of psychological stress. But I now know how to cope with these thoughts, and that I would not act on them. I'm now able to revert my mind back to a calmer and more positive state, and I think a lot of that is thanks to the CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) that I received from my counsellor in the past.

Let's keep talking about these taboo subjects, and try to help people that are still suffering. I think if I'd been able to talk more openly about my suicidal thoughts I perhaps wouldn't have got to the terrible place that I did in June 2014. Suicide is a massive killer, but I don't think it would be such an issue if we all talked about it just that little bit more.
If it doesn't open, it's not your door.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Hannah. There is no comfortable way to talk about suicide and self-harm, but I do hope that the stigma can be lifted by more more open, thoughtful discussion. It is very brave and powerful of you to share your lived experiences, and I hope that I can learn from it and help others with that knowledge. Medical schools (and I guess the medical profession in general) in the US are taking a closer look at the mental health during training. JAMA (a huge journal stateside) recently published a very thought-provoking paper titled "Prevalence of depression, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation among medical students," whose first author is herself a medical student. Thank you again for sharing and calling for action against the stigma.