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  • Writer's pictureIona Stuart

To Be, Or Not To Be?*

That is the question.

So, I recently recalled a conversation that I had with a good friend of mine after she’d attended the funeral of a young man who’d committed suicide, and I felt the need to write something about this topic.

I find that when it comes to the topic of suicide, many people shy away from any sort of discussion on the subject. There seems to be a tendency for people to grow uncomfortable when asked about the cause of someone’s death if the answer is ‘suicide,’ and it almost seems as if the moment this is said, a sort of awkwardness seems to descend over the conversation. Of course, talking about any death can be uncomfortable, but I have, personally, never seen the same degree of awkwardness expressed when the cause of death happens to be due to accident or physical illness. So, why mental illness?

I think this perhaps has something to do with the fact that many people, especially those who have never experienced any degree of mental illness, have some ignorance as to what actually drives someone to commit suicide and a tendency to see it as more of a choice than it really is. I believe that what makes those who don’t have much experience of this mindset feel awkward is the fact that they often genuinely do not know what to say, because they simply cannot envisage it.

They don’t really see the internal struggle, the mental battle to survive each day, and the immense amount of energy it takes to continue with everyday life when the person is so unhappy that it all seems somewhat pointless. They don’t understand the one question that plays over and over in the minds of those who suffer from depression and suicidal tendencies – who am I living for?

Sometimes trying to convince yourself that you’re living for those you love just isn’t enough.

I also think that quite often there are subtle signs that are not picked up on. I think a lot of people fail to realize that self-harm and self-destructive behavior can often escalate into suicidal tendencies. For example, some partake in self-destructive behavior such as drug use or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and give no care to the consequences. Some get drunk because it makes them feel numb; others take drugs so that they can get away from the world for a while, and maybe not care whether or not they come back. Sometimes it’s not really something that the person is actually aiming for, but they are perfectly aware that death may be an outcome, and continue with it anyway.

There is a mindset that some get stuck in of, ‘I don’t know if I really want to die, but I don’t really want to live, either.’ Many people tend either not to notice, or to simply ignore these signs because they do not see them as an immediate danger.

But these are the sorts of signs that people might want to try to pick up on, and just keep an eye out. If you know that someone is struggling with their mental health, if they have said something, or if you have noticed an increase in self-destructive behavior, then maybe it might be worth a friendly conversation just to see where their mind is at. Of course, this doesn’t mean that anyone else may be able to do anything to help someone who is having suicidal thoughts, but you never know, sometimes a bit of compassion can go a long way.

*edited repost from original website

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