There is so much in this article that I have thoughts on.
The truth is this line of thinking won’t work for everyone.
This is an important line because depression and suicidal thoughts aren’t the same for everyone. Each person’s experience is unique, and what helps one person doesn’t help another. One Medium writer wrote that being berated by strangers on the internet helped him see he was selfish. For me, empathy helps. Telling me to “suck it up” makes me feel worse.
Second, the word “selfish”. I hate that the word “selfish” is used negatively so often. We need to stop using that word in association with suicide. As you said,
As long as there’s still this icky stigma surrounding suicidal thoughts and the impression that “giving into suicide” is selfish, weak, or a million other terrible things, there will be suicidal people who refuse to admit where they’re at.
Why do people spread the “selfish” message? Don’t they realize that it makes those who are experiencing it feel bad? Does it make the person who says, “selfish” feel better? I think that in some cases, it makes them sound condescending. Certainly, it implies a lack understanding and empathy. I comprehend not understanding suicidal feelings unless you’ve experienced them firsthand.
And, because not everyone experiences suicidal thoughts the same way, it’s sometimes more difficult for someone who’s been through it to recognize someone else’s truth. I’ve seen this. Over a decade ago, I was shocked to read responses to a Huffington Post article about depression (or suicide — I forget) in which people were saying things along the lines of, “This is my experience with depression. Your experience doesn’t match mine, so obviously, you’re not really depressed.”
Reading comments like that broke my heart. Those people should be supporting each other, not ripping each other apart and contributing to a stigma that affects them too.
I believe that with empathy, people can try to understand. And when we’re in it, we should try to ask for what we need.
Yes, suicide is a selfish, harmful act. However, in my experience, the idea of suicide sometimes feels like the ultimate form of self-care. While in it, it seems like suicide will end all problems. A fatal illness. Quit life. Except, quitting is not an option. (That’s one of my phrases.)
And finally, your phrase:
Things might get better. Maybe. Maybe. Just maybe.
YES. One of the tools I use when I’m in it is to remind myself that it’s temporary and that I know this because I’ve made it through before. Each time I make it through an episode it shows me that I can do it. Again, as we agreed, this won’t work for everyone. I shared that tool with my niece, but she took her own life anyway.
We humans do what we can (or what we think we can) to get through. We all need to find what works for us. We need all the tools in the toolbox that we can acquire.
(Apologies for the length of this response. I considered moving to a post of its own, but I’ve already got several posts about suicide that I’ve published over the last year and a half, and it doesn’t feel like a good time for a new one.)