Today on this #worldsuicidepreventionday let’s ruminate on whether suicide is a “choice.” I cannot speak for all experiences but I speak from my own as someone who lives with chronic suicidal thoughts managed by medication, therapy, and sheer force of will.
People often put the blame of the act of suicide on the one who “commits” it, much like we put the onus of salvation on the sufferer. To blame is to insinuate the deceased had the choice to live or to die and they chose wrong. In the literal sense, yes, it is our hands that complete the act. But to be suicidal is to have your brain screaming lies at you. It insists death is the only option because it seems easy while life seems totally impossible to continue. It tells you death would be a relief, that it wouldn’t hurt anyone but you, that you’re not worth the trouble of living anyway. It is insidious. It is manipulative. It is terrifying.
My greatest fear is that I, someone who has a healthy terror of death, will one day be unable to fight back against my brain’s lies and will die by suicide. Read the way I said that. I am not afraid I will choose to die. I am afraid that I will succumb. This is how I perceive it, not as an unbalanced pros and cons list, but as having to climb Everest again and again until the one time I trip and fall. The more often I climb it, the likelier my chances of tripping. But likewise, the more I climb it, the stronger I become. My muscles strengthen, I learn where best to put my feet, I learn when to lean on guides and oxygen.
If I fall, it will not be because I turned and leapt off the cliff, giving up. It will be because a ledge crumbled beneath me or a leg gave out. Suicide is not any more of a choice than this. I AM choosing life. Through medication. Through therapy. Through healthy life choices. Through collecting joys. But this fight is lifelong. So please don’t bar my access to mental healthcare or stigmatize me because I should “try harder on my own.” I’m climbing Everest for the 43rd time, what are you doing?