Suicide has no rules

Whenever a story about suicide or attempted suicide hits the media there is a mix of reactions.  There are the people who don’t care, they see the suicidal as an inconvenience. There are those who have been there and understand the despair behind suicide.  Then there are those in between.  They don’t really mean to be offensive, but they are misinformed and they can’t possibly keep their comments to themselves.suicide has no rules

The comment sections seem to be filled with these in between people. They have possibly read an article about suicide and now believe that those signs are gospel when it comes to a person expressing suicidal thoughts. People who make the news due to their suicide attempts are subjected to the scrutiny of these armchair psychiatrists. I’ve responded to these comments in the past and have been met with disbelief and uproar.  ‘I’m only try to help’, is the outcry. Yet they don’t realise or refuse to acknowledge how unhelpful their commentary is.

The most common comment I have noticed is ‘if they were really suicidal they wouldn’t have told anyone’. Contrary to the beliefs these people hold, there is no ‘right’ way to be suicidal or to attempt suicide.  Someone reaching out after they have taken action against their lives are no less suicidal because there was something that made them change their minds. A person who admits to making an attempt on their life isn’t any less suicidal.

Another common catch phrase used is that the person is ‘just’ crying for help. Well, yes they are. It’s a dangerous way of asking for help, but that is what they are doing. A friend once said to me that she found it ludicrous that self harm and suicide attempts were written off as nothing more than attention seeking. The term always said in a derisive tone, with undertones of ‘time waster’. It was her belief that if someone used such a dysfunctional way of drawing attention to themselves, then maybe we need to spend some time giving them attention and teaching them positive ways to express themselves.

I often feel uncomfortable when talking about my own suicide attempts because I sought help so soon afterwards. I don’t feel that my experiences are valid because maybe I wasn’t really suicidal at all. I buy into the stigma I fight so hard to help others see past. As usual I am far harsher on myself than on others.

There is no right way to be suicidal. There is no rules for attempting suicide. Someone seeking help doesn’t reduce the validity of those suicidal actions. You can’t ignore someone’s cry for help because you don’t think they are suicidal enough.

At the end of the day, strangers commenting on the validity of a person’s attempt on their life achieves nothing. I wish that suicide attempts were not used as news fodder, click bait headlines that lure the dregs of society to the comment section. I wish that people would think before they type something hurtful about a person who is already in an incredibly vulnerable position. I wish that they could keep their thoughts and their unspoken rules about suicide to themselves.

Linking up with Kylie for IBOT!

8 thoughts on “Suicide has no rules

  1. Deb @ inner compass designs

    It amazes me that people think there is anything for us to comment on or judge about people who attempt/commit suicide. A person’s pain is nothing for us to debate etc. No matter what they need to receive whatever support and love they need. Same with kids- I hated hearing comments that kids are acting out for attention and should be ignored. Maybe take time to talk to those kids and see what they need so desperately. Maybe if people took this approach with kids and taught them to seek out help and talk through feelings they would grow up feeling they have alternatives when things are really bad.

  2. Amy @ handbagmafia

    I hate it when people are dismissive of self harm attempts. They have no empathy for the idea that someone is so low and down that this seems like their only option. It breaks my heart.

  3. Denyse Whelan Blogs

    I hear you and I hate the way suicide is becoming a topic on which everyone is expert…and no-one actually knows any one else’s pain nor motives. I think we have gone almost too far the other way where it’s become commonplace to talk about it. The restrictions that were about ‘keeping quiet so as not to influence another’ were possibly too much but have we become almost blasé…and I do not under emphasise my concern. It has hit my family a number of time with attempts and at least one ‘success’. I am not a judge. I feel for anyone who is in so much pain this is the only way out….I wish I could express myself as well as you do Tegan. Thank you for sharing. Denyse x

  4. Robyna

    Judgement is never helpful and in this case it’s even less than helpful. I don’t think any of us can insert ourselves fully into another human’s mind. We have to take more care with each other and approach this with much more humility and kindness. This isn’t an area to proclaim “expertise”

  5. Kylie Purtell

    I’ve never understood why people have to comment on things they know nothing about and have no first-hand experience with, I really don’t. I am lucky to have not been touched by the suicide of someone I know, but I have friends who have, and I see the grief and trauma and guilt they carry, for years and years afterward. I can’t imagine how that feeling would be magnified for a person who had attempted suicide or self-harmed and it’s this dismissive attitude of people that means more people suffer in silence than need to. As you say there is no right or wrong way to handle any of this, and if people were perhaps more open to just being there for others, rather than judging then perhaps we’d have a chance of actually helping those who need help the most.

  6. Sanchie @ Living my Imperfect Life

    I agree that we don’t have the right to comment on the suicides we read about in the news. It’s always sad though and I usually find myself wondering just how bad it must have been for the person to take that action. I don’t see anything wrong with those who might feel hopeless enough to attempt suicide but then go seek help as they are hit with the reality of it I suppose. Doesn’t make the pain and desperation any less valid.

    On a slightly different note, did you read the letter from the wife of a doctor who suicided last week? It broke me heart because the darkness he seemed to be in was very familiar to me.

  7. Ashleigh My Meow

    Absolutely agree. I hate it how suicide is almost always talked about in the context of mental illness. What is often ignored is the loss of hope or alternatives people in these situations seem to have. I work in mental health and it’s a real gap. There are no rules.


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