Suicide is Painless (not really)

I was thinking back over some of the serious issues that went by on the path and of all of them, this was perhaps the most grave. Suicide claims the lives of many people each year and it is said that about 40% of transgender people attempt it during their lives. Depression and despair take their toll.

[[N.B. edited the next para a few hours after posting. Strikethroughs and bold denote removals and additions]]

I’m going to start with something that is very judgmental, but please don’t stop reading. Suicide is perhaps the single most narcissistic, selfish act a person can commit. Outside of some very special cases involving terminal illness and seriously intractable pain, suicide is a huge burden on anyone the person knows, especially those closest to them. Suicide outside of these situations or when the person has other reasons to believe their life to be hopeless is narcissistic and selfish.

If you are tempted to take your life, please, please, please call one of the many hotlines and services available. Please search YouTube for “It Gets Better” and watch some of the videos. Give yourself 24 hours to reconsider and reach out to a friend or loved one about whatever your problem is.

For those cases that don’t involve a situation that would often cause us to think about physician assisted suicide, the saying that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem is apt. Yet it often doesn’t feel that way, and I’m going to share some of my dark moments because I don’t want you, dear reader, to think I’m saying these things as an intellectual. Very much the opposite.

One of the most dangerous periods in my recovery was a couple of months into treatment with antidepressants. Before that I was so lacking in energy that I couldn’t have hurt myself had I wanted to; I simply lacked the energy and willpower to do it. Yet the reasons for it were there, and continued to be there for the next year or so.

Why? Anger at myself, shame, guilt, all because I was going to hurt those closest to me. I would (fortunately temporarily) engage in the thought that they might be better off without me as a burden.

Yet this was an incredibly selfish attitude. What damage would I have done by such an act? How selfish would it have been to act as if I knew what was best for them? Was my daughter better off losing a parent in such a horrible way? My wife losing her spouse?

I was being narcissistic, in my thoughts of them I was only seeing myself in a mirror, my thoughts, my projections on them, and my control.

What brought this to an end? The realization that there comes a time when you have to act in your own interest, and that acting for others is not selfless but selfish. You are controlling them, causing them guilt – look at what you are making me do. Look at the suffering you are causing. In the extreme – look at how you made me try or take my life for you.

When I reached the point of realization that I could not burden my spouse with the responsibility to choose between her happiness and mine, I also realized that guilt was inappropriate. Sorrow was appropriate, and apologies for having to make the choice I did, and love and compassion for her pain, but not guilt.

When you are tempted by what you see as the “easy” road, remember the violence you would actually do to these others. You would indelibly scar them for the remainder of their lives. True compassion is to offer compassion to them and also to yourself.

Be patient with yourself, be slow to act, and act for the right reasons. Above all, do not make choices for others, do not try to control others and don’t have the arrogance to think you know what others are thinking.

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