Koshka's Kingdom

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Mount Paozu
Town of ZZT
Castle of Doom
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Reptile House
Haunted House

Suicide Prevention is Selfish

Disclaimer: As you may have guessed, the topic for this rant (suicide) concerns a subject that may trigger or offend some people, and may be the darkest overall thing I will ever put on here. You have been warned.

I do not wish to advocate for anyone to actually commit suicide, and would not even encourage anyone who has suicidal ideations to read past this point. It's not my place to offer any guidance to any specific person on such a consequential and personal issue, and that is not what this is for. I am personally speaking from a place of having been in dark enough places in life myself before to discuss the issue in a relatively objective manner compared to the hysterical way that it is usually treated. Acknowledging understanding for why someone would do a certain thing does not constitute approval of it. It is possible to understand why starvation would drive a person to steal, while still opposing the act of theft.

And for the record, this is not meant to be a "cry for help" or anything of that nature; this is just my thoughts on an issue that not enough people are willing to voice anything remotely controversial about.

One issue that never fails to infuriate me is how many subjects there are, that are impossible to have a rational conversation with anyone about because almost everybody is far too emotional and reactionary about them. At this point, there is probably not one among us who hasn't expressed a political opinion and immediately been subjected to outlandish derogatory accusations that have nothing to do with said opinion.

While there is already a large enough body of assorted political rantings on the Internet of every possible type to validate anyone's personal beliefs, there is another subject that is conspicuously difficult to find any real literature on: suicide. Even just typing the word into a search engine immediately plasters a list of useless-at-best suicidal hotlines (more on that later) in your face on top of any results on the subject, which I find hilarious. One can research how to make bombs (in Minecraft,) how to join ISIS, or any number of subjects that imply intent to bring bodily harm to many other people, but contemplating hurting oneself is where search engines finally feel the need to step in.

What is even more annoying, and what ultimately inspired me to write this, is the cult of well-intentioned idiots (to borrow a phrase from Maddox) that come out of the woodwork whenever someone so much as mentions that dreaded s-word, in order to throw out some meaningless copy-and-pasted platitudes. On Reddit, a place that only enjoys the reputation of being a respectable public forum because Twitter has lowered the bar to such abyssal depths, there are even marauding bots that go around responding to any comment that mentions suicide with a generic copypasta. Leave it to Redditors to be so utterly lacking in cognitive empathy so as to think that receiving lazy copy-and-pasted platitudes from a bot is actually helpful.

One common moronic platitude that I've seen used often is "suicide is a permanent solution for a temporary problem!" First, why would someone want a temporary solution to their problem if a permanent one was possible? Imagine hiring someone to repair a leak in your roof and being told that you're better off if they seal the hole up with a substance that needs to be replaced every month, instead of permanently repairing it.

The "temporary problem" part of the claim is even more infuriating because 9 times out of 10, said platitude comes from someone who has no idea what issues a person is suffering from. Maybe they have debilitating life-long chronic pain or depression, or they've lost everyone that ever cared about them and are too broken to ever love again. Or perhaps they've just been driven to utter hopeless nihilism from having to occupy a world filled with nimrods that insist on subjecting everyone around to them their saccharine bullshit.

"It gets better!" is an even more preposterous one. Not only does this one (in most cases) assume intimate knowledge about a complete stranger's history and issues, but it also implies that the speaker is capable of divining said Internet stranger's future. It's the telltale call of a simpleton whose entire belief system comes from feel-good Hollywood movies. Life is less of a Hollywood movie and more of a nightmare world where animals are going extinct in apocalyptic numbers and tens of millions of people are literally slaves.

"It's all in your head" is a phrase commonly thrown about by people who don't have anything inside their own heads, usually to disregard anyone suffering from suicidal ideations, depression, or any other mental issues. The apparent implication here is that emotional or mental anguish doesn't count as real pain. "You're so cripplingly depressed that you can't even bring yourself to get out of bed to eat something? Well at least you didn't stub your toe!"

While it's impossible to objectively measure and compare the pain that different groups of people live with, I did some brief research while writing this on the suicide rates of people suffering from chronic pain and people suffering from common painful mental issues and the results are quite telling.

The suicide rate for people suffering from chronic pain appears to be around twice that of the general population. In comparison, people suffering from borderline personality disorder are 50 times (!!!) more likely to commit suicide than the general population. People suffering from bipolar disorder have a similiarly horrifying suicide rate of 20 times that of regular people. Since autistic rights are a very important subject for me, I will also mention that autistic people are estimated to commit suicide at ten times the rate that neurotypicals do, and have an average lifespan of under 40 years old partially as a result of this. While autism is not a mental disorder, the ostracisation and abuse that it brings from neurotypicals can easily lead to depression and other lasting mental issues.

The most ridiculous part of the whole "it's all in your head!" claim is that it can be stretched as an argument about just about anything can plague a person. "Oh your family died? You're just experiencing unpleasant chemical reactions inside your brain as a result of your evolutionary bonding instincts! Just be happy!"

I mentioned earlier that suicide hotlines are useless, which is an understatement given all that I have heard about them. While I, thankfully, do not have any personal experience with them, I have heard a wealth of horror stories from people who have attempted to use their services. These hotlines are often staffed by unqualified volunteers who do little more than spout platitudes from a basic script. They've been known to hang up on people or even demean them. Worse yet, they can (and have) called the police on a suicidal person, which can lead to them being forcibly committed.

Involuntarily committing people due to suspicion of suicidal ideations is a diabolical practice,and unsurprisingly makes a person more likely to commit suicide. Who would have thought that abducting a person, restraining and drugging them, and then saddling them with an insurmountable mountain of medical debt (if they do not have health insurance to cover the cost) would make them hate their life more? To quote President Ronald Reagan: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."

In essence, this makes vacationing in a dangerous part of Mexico a better method of treatment for treating suicidal ideations than speaking with a therapist or a suicide hotline. Both run the risk of being kidnapped, but in the former case the kidnappers are at least considerate enough to end their victim's life if they can't pay the ransom instead of forcing them to spend the rest of their life working to do so. The appetizing food and fresh scenery over in Mexico are much better for treating depression than most therapists as well.

This finally brings me to my main point -- the reason that it's impossible to have a logical discussion about the topic of suicide is because most people approach it from an utterly selfish point of view. Defending suicide, regardless of context, is arguably a greater taboo than defending actual rapists. Almost all people normally seem to approve of the idea that medicine should do everything possible to reduce suffering, but as soon as the treatment involves death everyone suddenly loses their minds.

Even the idea of allowing painless euthanasia to a terminally ill person who has nothing left to look forward to beyond weeks of bed-bound suffering is a topic of fierce debate, as if the well-being of a dying patient is a decision to be made by faceless politicians and bureaucrats instead of the suffering person themselves. I sincerely hope that anyone who opposes euthanasia spends the last month of their life desperately wishing it was legal. Sometimes the best method for punishing a fool is giving them exactly what they asked for.

If someone is in such terrible agony that it overrides even their nearly indomitable will to survive that evolution has been reinforcing for at least 600 million years, who is anyone else to tell that person what avenue they are "allowed" to pursue in order to end their suffering, so long as they are not directly harming anyone else? Imagine being in agony and being denied medicine that could cure or ease your suffering because of someone else's personal moral objections to it. This argument also applies to the absurd laws criminalising marijuana, opiates, and other drugs with proven medical benefits, but that's a topic for another day.

People often make the argument that suicide is selfish because it causes a person's loved ones and friends to suffer. Even ignoring the fact that there's likely quite a few suicidal people who don't have anyone that would even notice if they croaked, this is still a selfish and myopic argument.

No one is expected to remain in a relationship with someone purely to avoid causing them heartbreak, or to not quit their job because their co-workers would be inconvenienced, or to not move to another state or country because their friends would miss them. It's interesting to me that no one ever argues that it's selfish for a person to want someone they supposedly love to continue suffering in order to spare their feelings.

There's a wonderful quote about suicide from David Foster Wallace that compares the decision of committing suicide to jumping from the window of a burning building. The full quote, which I don't want to paste due to its length can be found here. The gist is that a bystander watching a terrified person defenestrating (I regret that my first opportunity to use this wonderful word on here had to be in such a morbid context) themselves to their deaths can no more understand the terror and stress that has pushed them to make such a decision, than they can understand the perspective of someone who has been driven to suicide. It's one thing to look out of a window and contemplate how anyone could bring themselves to jump out of it, and a completely different experience to be in a burning building, driven beyond your wits, and seeing the deadly jump as a quick and painless respite from a more terrible fate of being burned alive.

Some argue that everyone owes a debt to society for their existence and upbringing, and that suicide is immoral due to being a way around paying said "debt." Since no one can actually consent to being born and being thrust into a society, this is akin to arguing that someone who is forcibly conscripted into a military organisation is morally obligated to fight for them because said organisation provided them with combat training.

Death is arguably the most universal life experience there is (virtually every living being that has ever been born is already dead,) and suicide is just one of the myriad of ways that it can arrive when it inevitably comes for someone. While it is easy to lament what was lost and what could have been, one can also easily celebrate those things.

Death takes away everything that one has, including the suffering. There's a reason that reminding people that their deceased loved one is "in a better place" is such a common platitude when someone passes away. For some people, even complete non-existence is or at least can seem to be a greener pasture than their current life. There's a reason that using alcohol, drugs, and fictional media to "escape" is so widespread. To quote the glorious Mark Twain: "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."

Just to be clear, I am not encouraging anyone to commit suicide, any more than I am encouraging everyone to start taking heroin when I argue for legalising opiates or at the very least making it easy for suffering people to have access to them. As I said at the beginning, it's not my place to offer any guidance to any specific person on such a consequential and personal issue. I am merely sick of this issue being dominated by unempathetic blowhards who have nothing to offer but tired platitudes and religious hogwash.

Regardless of how much we can wish that it was not so, there will always be people that commit suicide for a variety of reasons. I do suspect however, that the prevalence of the act would decrease overall if it was something that was not completely taboo to talk about. A lot of suicides could have been prevented if only the victim had someone that they felt that they could talk to about their problems without risking being committed against their will or receiving nothing but meaningless platitudes invented by a society that is too afraid to ever truly discuss the subject meaningfully.

People with serious problems need to be able to get actual help and support and feel that they are understood, not be given false promises or worse yet, be told that they're "cowardly" or "selfish" and be locked up like a convict. Abandoning rational discussion in favour of propaganda and demonisation never solves problems, only pushes them under the rug while they steadily get worse.