Addressing the Suicide Memes


[NOTE: THIS IS A ROUGH DRAFT. HOPEFULLY I WILL GET THE ENERGY TO FIX IT AT SOME POINT. 28/07/13]

***INDEX***

SECTION 1: Suicide Memes

1. Suicide is selfish
2. Suicide is cowardly
3. Suicide devastates those left behind
4. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem
5. Suicidal people obviously aren't thinking clearly
6. Life is a gift

SECTION 2: Common Memes About Unhappiness, Positivity and Choice

7. There are always people much worse off (unhappy people should count their blessings)
8. If you don't have anything nice to say, you shouldn't say anything
9. Negative people have negative ripple effects in the world
10. Everything happens for a(n ultimately) good reason
11. Rewards for effort and consequences for mistakes are fair (karma is a bitch)
12. Adults have a responsibility to reassure the young that life is good
13. People who really want something will find a way to get it
14. Some people don't really want help

15. SUMMARY




Why Is It Necessary to Address Common Memes About Suicide?

The ideas about suicide, unhappiness, positivity and choice linked above (click links for my responses, or scroll down) are prevalent in mainstream society. The internet is packed with the same old memes. It's difficult to find different messages, or places to share alternative ideas.

The preconceptions prevent an open dialogue. They prevent learning. I think they are a big part of why many people either don't seek help, or why they isolate themselves. The suicidal internalize these messages, which damages self-esteem. They are constantly being told they are not good people, they are not strong people, they are not worthwhile people, and are also told they are being negative and irrational if they exhibit signs of low self-esteem.

I've even seen depression support chat rules which include that you aren't allowed to be depressing.

It can be difficult to find a therapist, but if you do, that therapist might have a legal obligation to have you hospitalized if you want to discuss suicidal feelings. But once in a hospital, is it safe there to talk about suicidal feelings? For some people, including me, the stress of being in that kind of situation does not make it easy - there is another layer of stress, but in addition, I have never found hospitals to provide comprehensive therapy. You may see your psychiatrist for a few minutes a couple of times a week. There are various types of therapies, but none are intensive or focused, and a problem I've found is that no one seems to have an overview of all your issues, or to understand how different conditions and problems impact upon each other. I have never found hospitalization helpful. I haven't left hospitals feeling refreshed and revitalized, less suicidal - I have left with more wounds, and like I am escaping from an unhealthy situation, not a place of healing. (Note: I have not been hospitalized now for more than 23 years.)

Another option is to phone a help line, but the people who volunteer are also under legal obligations, and this may lead to tracing your calls. So where can a person go if they want to talk about all of this without the risk that they will face hospitalization? Not everyone who has thought about suicide wants to attempt it immediately. It can be difficult to rationally assess all options if as soon as you bring up the topic people immediately repeat the same old phrases and think that's the end of the discussion.

Maybe those who best absorb and understand society's messages are more likely to be depressed. It's not necessarily that the individual has a 'negative thinking style'. Society at large, and sometimes family members and friends are saying 'you should be stronger, what you have been through was your own fault, other people have it much worse, don't bring everyone else down'.

If people keep repeating the same things, many people with suicidal thoughts might not ever try to talk to anyone - and if they can't pull it together, they might just kill themselves. The cycle is not broken. Those left behind might not ever understand what the person was going through, and might focus on intensifying the original judgments rather than seeking more complicated answers. If this cycle is not challenged, if people keep on repeating the same old memes without having to analyze them, it's negative reinforcement of an ineffectual and outdated approach.

The topic of suicide is still not usually seen as a suitable, appropriate or desirable for conversation. If it comes up, there is a kind of vibe that comes with it that lets people know it's not a comfortable subject, and it's usually understood that most people will not tolerate more than a certain amount. People are supposed to be sensible enough to know where to draw limits.

Death is part of life, and we all die some day. I think it makes sense for every human being to examine what situations, if any, might result in a decision to terminate their lives before it runs its course. It should be acceptable to analyze and discuss our attitudes toward death and suicide.

I have found some people who, while not currently finding it relevant to their own situations, have been willing to discuss some aspects of this with me, and are open about it. This article is not aimed at them. It's about clarifying these issues as much as possible, due to the overwhelming imbalance.




SECTION 1: Addressing the Suicide Memes

1. Suicide is Selfish

If a suicidal person is a drain on the resources of family and friends, it could be argued that it is not selfish to remove this burden from them. If a suicidal person is somewhat 'contagious', in that they bring down the morale and reduce quality of life for family and friends, it could be argued that it is not selfish to stop doing so, even if the only way to achieve this is to die.

People have been arguing for years about abortion rights, which is about a woman's right to choose. Shouldn't the decision whether to live or die be the most fundamental of human rights for any individual? If our lives don't belong to ourselves, who do they belong to? No one can know what it is like to be us, to live in our bodies. I am pro-choice when it comes to suicide. No one can know what it's like to be us or make our choices. It might be 'selfish' in a good way if we understand ourselves and know what is best for ourselves, and can stand up for that. At the same time, maybe it's selfish of others to decide they know what's best for us.

In an evolutionary sense, even helping others is about helping ourselves. 'Unselfish' acts were originally about ensuring that in a group situation, if you helped someone now, later the favour would be returned. It was a survival instinct to (sometimes) put others before ourselves. A person has a right to question the survival instinct, and all instincts. Human beings are a species that (presumably) has the ability to question instinct in a rational way.

When making any life decision, human beings (presumably) have the ability to take into account their strengths and weaknesses, to make projections regarding probabilities and acceptable outcomes, to weigh the possible consequences, and make choices uniquely their own. When it comes to suicide, this could include weighing the problems a potential suicide would leave for others as opposed to the benefits, as well as the potential drawbacks and benefits to themself. Their conclusions, and the choice they make regarding those conclusions would be a matter of 'free will'.

None of us ask to be born. Without thinking the world owes us something, doesn't it still make sense to think that we don't owe the world anything just because we have been born?

We all die some day. Not everyone wants to die senile or in diapers, not everyone wants to live with certain diseases or conditions, but aside from that, shouldn't every human being have the right to assess their own potentials and decide if their lives are worth living? Is it selfish to expect people to care for us when we can no longer care for ourselves? What if we opt to kill ourselves before we get to a stage where we don't remember who anyone is, and we feel like throwing our bedpans at passersby? Is it selfish to make that kind of decision?

It could be argued that it is selfish to leave others out of the decision making process, or not allow them to be aware of all the factors that lead to one's decision, especially if their lives will be affected by the decision, but what if these other individuals would selfishly try to force you to choose an option with low potential for an acceptable outcome because they refuse to face or cannot perceive the realities of the situation?

Worse still, what if they tell you they want you to live not because they want you to, but because they think they are supposed to tell you that because it would make them a bad human being not to, and they are worried about what others would think of them if they did not say it?

Is it selfish to ask people to live in unbearable pain?

What if the suicidal person feels pressure to live up to some role or image others have that they don't feel represents who they really are? What if the person who is mourned was never who the person really was?




2. Suicide is cowardly

Sometimes it can be more cowardly to live a life you don't want, out a sense of inertia, fear of change, unwillingness to challenge the way things are, the 'normal' standards of life.

It takes a lot to override the survival instinct, and it can take a lot to overcome the fear of pain, fear of traumatizing others, etc. In this sense, suicide takes a lot of courage.

In my case, it is more cowardly to remain alive than to kill myself. I believe suicide is a valid option, I believe it is the best option for me, and yet I have still not pulled it off.

Also in this category: Suicide is for quitters. It is a compliment to say that someone is not a quitter, or that they are a survivor. Anyone who contemplates 'quitting' the game of life will encounter this kind of baggage, and will have to factor it in. If you're not around to face the consequences, it only 'proves' everyone's point. You weren't brave enough to stick around and see what else was around the corner, fix your mistakes, open yourself up to what life had to offer, etc. The fact that you might have been brave enough to go through with what was right for you, according to your own assessments and according to your own values may never be understood.

When any person makes a decision or has viewpoints that are contrary to the majority, how easy is it to take a stand? It takes courage to do this.

If a person lives to be senile and in diapers, are they conscious enough to be 'brave'? Surely at that point they are just living by default? And by not 'quitting' earlier, what have they won? Is the dignity and courage of the earlier life somewhat eroded by the later state?




3. Suicide devastates those left behind

What if a person doesn't have any friends or relatives or anyone who would even notice if they were dead? Is suicide then ok? No one should assume that everyone has someone in their life who will miss them, or who believes their death would be a tragedy.

What if the truth is that sometimes people are relieved or even happy when someone dies? Only it's one of those dark human truths that almost no one is willing to admit?

One less person competing for love and available resources.

Part of the pain relates to the taboo nature of suicide, and that we're not supposed to talk about it in the first place. Yes, relatives and friends might have to deal with the judgment of others, in addition to the grief they feel over loss - others may believe they didn't do all they could to 'save' the person, and they in turn might wonder if they did. But, if we could talk about this topic more, there would be less shame and judgment. We might realize that for some people, suicide might be the best choice. And if part of the problem is that people won't talk about suicide before they attempt it, making it less taboo might ultimately bring awareness of more options, other than suicide.

It is often pointed out that suicidal people often have the irrational belief that everyone would be better off without them. What if the ugly truth is that because depressed people are a burden their families would ultimately be better off without them? How fun is it to live knowing you're a burden? And then also to be harangued with 'you will cause us so much pain if you kill yourself, don't be so selfish'. They can't win by living, or dying. They can maybe reduce the suffering of one person: themselves.

But this points to the underlying belief: that a person can will themselves to not be depressed. They are being selfish by choosing to remain depressed. They are doing this to their family and friends. Because they are bad, weak, selfish, irresponsible, quitters, etc.

As for myself, I think there is one person who would be affected by my death. Factoring in all I know about this person, and all I know about life and people, I think that in the short term he might have trouble adjusting to the change, but that ultimately it would make it more likely he could move on and have a more full life. My assessment is that he would think of it as the best outcome for me.

There may be others I have known over the years who would momentarily take pause, but in all likelihood most people will never know I have died, will never ask anyone about it, or would hear of it only after time had passed. The discomfort I experience in living far outweighs any sadness or grief that would be experienced by others, and my guess is that would be all of them put together.

I admit that there is something I participate in myself. When I talk about not wanting to build relationships on false pretenses, part of it is that I have a sense about human programming and sentimentality, and I have a sense of when to draw the line. I consciously participate in not allowing others to become attached to me. I am too conscious of the process and programming for most relationships to feel 'real' in the first place, but I do understand that most human beings develop very real feelings of attachment when the other person performs certain actions, especially on an ongoing basis. I don't see myself as coming at this from an 'altruistic' angle, but I do have a kind of awareness that if I don't speak out from time to time, people will have a sense that I am part of life, and that underneath it all, I want life to continue. It seems to make sense: while you're still alive, you might as well be reasonable about it, and do what you can to pass the days, not burn bridges, in case you change your mind. If you can choose your friends, you should make an effort to make those friends feel appreciated.

I have had contact with a few people who do seem to accept that when it comes to suicide, a person's life and choice are their own, even though they themselves are not thinking of making that choice. Sometimes, I have been able to communicate with them for a while, and it is a kind of relief that my underlying stand is accepted, and we can try to discuss other topics. I am not sure how these people would be affected by my death, but I would suspect it would not seem totally unnatural to them, and I think it's possible that they would want what was best for me.

Then again, the way I talk about this here, and in other places in my various sites, might be alienating to people, and one more factor when it comes to how likely they are to care if I die.

In a sense though, all relationships are already over, long before my death. It is not through any failing on the part of the others. It relates to the underlying unresolveable difference: when one person wants to live and the other doesn't, it ultimately affects every part of the communication and relationship. Relationships are usually based on the ideas of continuity, and networking in life. The relationships it makes the most sense for me to seek out are those that would get me closer to death, not those that would increase my ties to life. I think what happens is that I end up seeming like a cold, unfeeling person, or someone not very alive or interesting, but I think the focus should be: I am acting in accordance with my real wishes. I am living my beliefs. I am consciously taking whatever steps I am capable of taking to get closer to death.




4. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem

Not for everyone. There are people with terminal illnesses (not temporary problems) who would continue to live in pain, discomfort and indignity. As for myself, I have been depressed since age 13. At age 15 I asked of my own volition to see someone. That is what the current advice is: tell someone, a parent, guidance counsellor, priest, teacher, etc. In my case, it did not lead to help, instead it led into or fed into the downward spiral. 34 years later that 'temporary problem' is still unresolveable.

In 1991, in a psych evaluation my doctor wrote that my prognosis was Poor. Was does that mean, exactly? I guess I have no way of knowing for sure, but it seems likely that at age 25 it did not seem likely to mental health professionals that I would ever have a good quality of life. It may be well known in the mental health fields that some people never get better and that there are certain signs which usually indicate this. But to vocalize it, to the patient or to the world goes against the human ideas that relate to hope and self- fulfilling prophecies. So, instead of agreeing with a person that their assessments of their situation are likely correct, (which might seem like a form of negative validation - even if it makes the patient feel better to have that validation, it doesn't give them anywhere to go. Live a miserable life, trying out new drugs, maybe become homeless or institutionalized) it's best to be quiet and look the other way, and let the person suffer on, they're going to suffer anyway, and it's for the greater good, for the overall morale of human beings if we don't give up on anybody, at least officially, out loud, except maybe amongst other doctors/therapists.




5. Suicidal people obviously aren't thinking clearly/don't have the ability to think in a rational way.

While it's true that many suicide attempts are impulsive acts and are not well planned or thought out, and while it's possible that many who feel suicidal after a setback or loss or during stressful times, like adolescence, will regain the will to live before long, there are still others who have carefully considered their options, weighed their strengths and weaknesses and potentials in life, and make decisions based on their assessments of long-term probabilities.

What if some depressed/suicidal people actually have an enhanced ability to perceive the realities of this world? When it comes to many situations in life, including making business/investment decisions, or decisions about who to choose as a life partner, there are many people who understand about what good investments are.

The people who argue that 'while there's life there's hope' are the ones who are irrational. For the few who might manage to acquire something in life that is a longshot, there are many, many more who would just continue to live out their lives in misery. For those willing to accept those odds, it's fine, but it is not fair to say those who aren't obviously aren't thinking clearly.




6. Life is a gift

If life is truly a gift, the recipient should be able to do what they want with that, including to decline, donate or recycle it.

Everyone has received gifts they do not want. Are all people obligated to keep every gift they ever received?

Nobody asks to be born. The 'gift' of life comes with many serious obligations, including obligations to go to school, get a job, stay within laws (or not get caught), and there are also many other obligations related to pressure to be repsonsible for a family of your own, to be responsible toward friends and family, and even if social rules are hypocritical and at times nonsensical, to society. When someone bestows a gift with so many obligations attached, is it really a gift?




SECTION 2: Addressing Common Memes About Unhappiness, Positivity and Choice


7. There are always people much worse off (unhappy people should count their blessings)

Sometimes a person can perceive that they have good things in their life, and that it could be worse, but not only are they not able to enjoy life or feel the good things, they still experience an unacceptable level of pain, loss of dignity, or do not find their quality of life acceptable.

It's very difficult to ascertain who has it the worst. Some people are genetically inclined to be happy no matter what their circumstances. Just like there might be a 'setpoint' for weight, there might be a setpoint for happiness.

If a person is motivated by hearing that others have it worse, fine. But many people are not. Why is that? I think it's possible that when you reach a certain personal threshold of discomfort, hearing about the pain of others just adds to your own. In some cases, it might underline the futility of life: life is so unfair, how could all this atrocity exist?

It also makes sense that human beings are wired to focus on their immediate surroundings more than the world in general. If people constantly thought about all of the other people in the world, they would have less time to devote to their own survival.

To dismiss a person's suffering as insignificant because others have it worse is a way of invalidating a person's experience, of saying that they do not matter.

The truth might be that if a person doesn't find a way to change their outlook, even if the circumstances are extremely difficult, they won't have any chance in life, but the point is that if there is such a thing as choice, one of the options available should be that a person can decide to end their life when the quality of life is not deemed acceptable.




8. If you don't have anything nice to say, you shouldn't say anything

If no one ever complains, how are changes in the world ever achieved? We don't know everything. If we just remain agreeable and tolerant, don't we reinforce the status quo?

Sometimes we need to hear unpleasant messages in order to know what areas next need to be addressed.

Yes, ideally, if people could present their suggestions politely, considerately, and patiently it would be great, but sometimes even when people do so, they are not heard, and it needs a little something more.

Also, sometimes people who are polite on the surface impart messages that underneath are not more supportive than those who are judgmental in an overt way.

The message I absorb is that unhappy people are best not seen or heard, because they are a drag (especially if they continue to be unhappy for too long).

At present, I think many mental health professionals agree that even if a person is expressing 'negative' thoughts and emotions, it is better than that they withdraw completely, and that it can even be a sign that they are open to change/help/whatever.

However, society keeps reaffirming that only positive messages are acceptable.

It is understandable that unhappy people might not be easy to be around, and might bring down the mood of others. It's also not easy to be the person who is bringing everyone down, and it makes sense that people would withdraw rather than do this, if they can't just snap out of their unhappiness. This contributes to the problem, though. The more isolated a person is, the less chance they have of feeling better or fitting in to the group.

But how much negativity is 'acceptable', and how much is about allowing a person to wallow? It makes sense that some lines are drawn, or maybe everyone would complain all the time?

When it comes to someone like me, I've been saying the same things online now for more than 12 years. Surely I should just shut up now, quietly go away, or kill myself already?

Online, people have the choice whether to look at a website or go somewhere else. In real life, I suppose when it is too much for friends and family, they also just go somewhere else.

I created a website originally because I wanted to make myself visible to others like me, or who had complementary experiences and ideas, and the underlying motivation was that I wanted to be understood, and I wanted to experience connection. I didn't want to add negativity or tension to people's lives, what I wanted was to find communication that for me could be authentic, non-superficial.

I am an example of what society would think of as a mentally ill person. How well do I fit the stereotypes? I'm also an example that a wish for death can last for a very long time, that mental discomfort and suffering in life can last as long as physical illnesses that are incurable. Do we as human beings think it is best that all such suffering is hushed up, kept from most people's awareness? Isn't it possible that the only way to change the situation is to first start trying to identify it?




9. Negative people have negative ripple effects in the world

Elaboration on 8. The statement here implies that negative and positive are black and white issues. Some people who are successful by society's standards might have a negative impact on society. Someone might make a lot of money by cutting costs at environmental expense. Some people who are attractive might do a lot of drastic things to maintain their appearance, while they tell others it is healthy diet and exercise - and this can result in others feeling likke failures when they can't achieve the same results.

A person with negative ideas or assessments might actually be pointing out a problem that needs to be resolved so that the world can be a better place for a greater number of people.

Many people I have communicated with have imparted to me in one way or another that they themselves would die before allowing themselves to live their lives the way I have lived mine, but that mostly they would never be in my position in the first place because they are stronger, have more self-respect, dignity, etc. Hearing these messages means that I have to accept that ultimately people don't really respect me - if I want to fit in or behave in a positive way, and to have a chance of creating positive ripple effects in the world. If I can't change myself, I have no choice but to hide myself in order to contribute something good to the world.




10. Everything happens for a(n ultimately good) reason

Does this include suicide?




11. Rewards for effort and consequences for mistakes are fair (karma is a bitch)

In other words, a person brings their misery on themselves. They have done something to deserve it.

I don't think it is easy to measure how much effort a person puts in compared to the rewards or results they achieve. Some people might have more obstacles than others, including those that aren't visible or currently understood or identifiable.

When a person puts in effort that society tells them should yield certain results, because these methods worked for others, they doubt themselves, they question themselves, and echo back what society says: I'm a failure. I do everything in a half-assed way. I brought all this on myself. I can never make up for this, or pay everyone back all I owe.

A person can scour his or her conscience for the reasons they 'deserve' failure, misery, etc, whereas a person who is happy might be more inclined to focus on what they've done to deserve happiness, while downplaying the mistakes.




12. Adults have a responsibility to reassure the young that life is good

The fact that there are unhappy people in the world should factor into everyone's decision making process. It's a risk. If you have children, there is a risk they will end up unhappy. You take the risk that you can prepare them well enough to deal with the trials and tribulations and contradictions inherent in life.

One thing I have contributed is that I have not had children myself. (This is also beneficial from an environmental angle.) Perhaps I can't be a good role model in some ways, but I am providing an example that there are other options to the conventional ideas that people must get married, have kids, a house, cars, etc.

We need to rethink the current support for the traditional family model where people keep getting married and having kids. It is still not really all that common for people to remain childless. Childless people face more pressure and questions. We should be questioning why more people don't feel it's an option not to have kids.

Society gives us mixed messages. It worships youth, but at the same time there is pressure to live until you are old and grey. What happens when people live longer and longer, and younger people find it hard to find jobs? Maybe in the future some of these pressures will be part of what pushes new euthanasia laws into effect, even if we'd prefer it had more of a focus on personal choice.

Is life good? A large number of the world's population live in conditions of poverty, disease, war, and they lack basic human rights.




13. People who really want something find a way to get it

The way this assertion is 'proven' is usually that a person has got what they said they wanted. The others obviously didn't want it as much.

When it comes to suicide, many people believe that if someone really wants to do it, they will just do it. They won't talk about it. If they really want to do it, they will find a way. It's difficult to explain that in some ways a person can have an awareness of psychological obstacles that perhaps in some ways parallel physical obstacles. If a terminally ill patient doesn't have the physical mobility required to kill themselves, it can be very difficult to figure out a reliable suicide method. If a person is psychologically hindered or the problems that make living difficult also make any action, including suicide difficult, it doesn't necessarily mean that the person doesn't want to die, or wouldn't take advantage of a humane option if it were available.

The depressed will take in many messages about success in life, and the attitudes that others have about what should be possible, if only someone really wants something. It's not about how many obstacles, it's not about the combination or severity of the obstacles, or trying to measure any of this, because The Human Spirit can overcome all, when a person really wants something. The ones who try and fail, even if they've put in a good effort considering the odds, obviously didn't want it as much. We all hear the success stories of people who managed to overcome impossible problems to achieve their goals. They are the ones who really wanted it. The others didn't really want it. They gave up fast. We don't want to know about them, because they don't make us feel good. But what we don't know is how many people with similar obstacles manage to succeed. Is it one in a hundred, one in a thousand, one in a million? Because if only one out of a very large number manages this kind of thing, it doesn't seem fair to hold everyone to that standard, or to assume none of the rest really wanted something, or that if they didn't want it as much, it means they are deficient or abnormal, or that we should look down on them.




14. Some people don't really want help

There are people who don't want help. If someone says they don't want help, it makes sense to take them at their word. However, there are some situations in which it's not so much that people don't want help, it's that the help that exists is not likely to help, or maybe the person needs too much help or to a person's conscious mind, for one reason or another, the concept is foreign, or possibly it comes with conditions that a person doesn't believe they can live up to.

My personal experience: at age 15, I did exactly what is recommended for young people to do these days (although it wasn't in the mainstream consciousness as an option in 1981) - I told my parents that I thought I needed to talk to someone. My mother found this difficult, because she wanted me to talk to her. I tried to explain that I thought I needed to talk to someone outside our personal situation. I wanted to see a psychologist, but only psychiatrists were covered by our health insurance. Long story short (the rest of it can be found elsewhere on xesce.net): my adventures in psychiatry only exacerbated the problems, and I was left with a lack of ability to trust that the professionals knew what they were doing. I withdrew from life, and my lack of social and personal development resulted in making it even more difficult to find anyone I could relate to or vice versa, or for the original hurdles, now magnified (and new ones added into the mix), to be overcome.

I know there are others who slip through the cracks or who don't trust that they will find help in the system.

Some are predisposed to believe help is for the weak. This is something that is echoed throughout society in various ways. Men in particular are more likely to be evolutionarily influenced to keep their thoughts and emotions to themselves in order not to appear weak. They also might not have as much practice or support in expressing emotions or psychological issues. In some cases, you might have a situation where a person isn't consciously in touch with the idea of help as an option. It's not so much that they don't want help, or don't want to be out of the situation they're in (without killing themselves), it's that they don't know how to connect that instinct with reality, and they are afraid of exposing their vulnerability if they make mistakes or reveal things they 'shouldn't' or that they've absorbed they shouldn't. I think it might sometimes be something like: in admitting they need help, they've already 'proven' that they are worthless and that there is no incentive to keep living, because they can never be who they thought they were. This is a psychological angle that if brought into awareness is something it might be possible to analyze and address, such that the underlying beliefs are questioned.

If we look at an opposite side of this issue, to situations we try to prevent, but can't, does it mean we really want these things to happen? If a person can't escape a rapist, a 10-against-one situation, or the gas chambers, does it mean they didn't try hard enough? Or that some part of them really wanted what happened to happen?

Psychological hurdles can be difficult to assess because they don't seem as concrete as something like an actual physical threat. Some of these hurdles can relate to even seeking help in the first place. I suppose it makes sense to focus resources on those strong enough to actively seek help, but I think it's a mistake to say that none of the rest really want to be helped.

The one common thing that apparently all happy people have in common is that they have close family relationships, and friendships. Not that they get along with everyone in the group, but that there are at least a few they are actually close to. When it comes to seeking help, it could be that some people need the support of others in order to manage. This could be a reassurance that others believe it is a viable option (not that the person is weak for seeking help), it could mean that the person needs help finding a therapist, initially needs to be accompanied to sessions, or, if a person is not ready to begin, that from time to time, the people who care continue to offer these kinds of support/suggestions. And if a person withdraws from life, and refuses invitations, these people continue to, from time to time, offer invitations. Of course all people must be able to judge their own limits, and not offer anything that would deplete themselves, and this is one of the reasons help is not always realistic: a person may need more help than it is feasible to offer. So, the issue is not that a person does not want help, it's that helping this person might be detrimental to the group as a whole. It might also be that neither the depressed person nor the others are aware of what options are available, what options are realistic, or how to connect desires for or to help with practical reality.

If the group is willing to invest a major amount of time and resources in order to help one member, there is a possibility that member might feel guilty about how much is being expended, and worried that they can't show results that justify all the expense. It might seem easier to take that choice out of the group's hands.

Sometimes a person might have a sense that as things stand, we don't know enough about how the mind works and how human patterns of behaviour work to understand what kinds of help would produce the desired results, and the idea of stabbing in the dark feeds into the sense of guilt and worry described in the paragraph above. Or, maybe the person realizes that what they want or who they are is in a kind of irreconcilable conflict, internally, and externally, when it comes to their place in the group? The person might want people around, might want understanding or company, but might believe that who they are is fundamentally unable to adapt to the group situation? Or to the kinds of help that are available?

As for myself, the kind of help I want is help dying. I can see that as a positive thing, and a natural conclusion to my life. I can imagine making the 'event' into a positive one, but no matter what I express, it seems unlikely anyone will offer me such help. And, I would be unlikely to take someone up on the offer of such help if it would put them at legal risk.




15. SUMMARY

Yes, other people have addressed these memes, but not often enough. The same old messages are still everywhere. Greater awareness of the issues might prevent some suicides, or prevent some of the pain experienced by those left behind, such that there is no extra baggage attached to the deaths by suicide above and beyond different kinds of death.

Death is a significant part of life. It makes sense to examine our attitudes about death and suicide, openly, without shame or prejudice, and without having to feel we are making everyone uncomfortable. We can watch countless deaths and ways to die, many violent, on tv, internet, etc, fictional or real, including suicides, we can read about death and suicide, but it is not appropriate to talk about different aspects of death in polite society?

As for myself: Realistically, what do I hope to achieve by talking about all of this? Do I really think the pro-choice suicide issue is going to go mainstream any time soon? And even if it does, it's not like medical authorities are going to set up special facilities for people like me any time soon with humane options for self- termination, and if they did, the focus would first be on the terminally ill, and the old and infirm.

But yes, ideally, people like me would have humane options when it comes to their own deaths. I have been expressing the same things for many, many years. 12 on record, here on this website. And before that, many, many more years. The records for that were destroyed. For me, that kind of death would be an experience in life to look forward to. It would be an event, and a kind of validation that all I have been through and tried to express counted for something.



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