Suicide is NOT Selfish

Let me be crystal clear: Suicide is NOT a selfish act. It is not an attention-seeking act. Anybody who says differently is perpetuating a very dangerous misunderstanding.

I have heard many stories in which someone stated that they would never take their own life because of their family, yet they end up dying by suicide. After having been in an incredibly deep, dark place of major depression, a place in which I did not feel myself and was not thinking logically because of the illness, I have a much greater understanding of how one may tragically come to end their life.

Conversely, I can understand how one who loved someone who died by suicide may feel as though the act was selfish. I would imagine there may be deep feelings of anger by a loved survivor of one who died by suicide. This is typical of the normal grieving process and I would imagine one’s anger is exacerbated when grieving the loss of loved one who died by suicide. I also believe it would be normal to wonder, “Didn’t the person consider me or our family when they decided to take their own life”, thus eliciting the feeling that the person who died by suicide must have been selfish for not even thinking of how the act would impact me/our family.

As a person who had four young children (between the ages of two and seven) when I had planned my suicide, I can attest to the fact that I had not developed a plan out of selfishness. I truly believed that I had become such a burden to my family that they would be better off without me. I no longer believed that I was a competent employee, father, or husband. I was going through an incredible amount of indescribable pain. The depression had become excruciatingly debilitating. Other than uncontrollable crying bouts at night, I was emotionless throughout the days. I was numb to all feelings. I could no longer read expressively to my kids or find joy in playing with them. I could no longer take care of the easiest of chores at the house. Every small task at work felt like a new summit had been placed on top of the peak of a mountain of responsibilities. I felt deeply helpless and hopeless. I did not intentionally develop a plan for suicide. The thought came into my head, I would push it away, and it would be back in my head less than an hour later. I couldn’t stop the thought from coming to my mind. One evening, I dreamed of going through with the plan. This dream scared the hell out me and was the impetus for me to urge my wife and sister to join me for an urgent appointment with my psychiatric physician’s assistant (PA) to advocate for more support.

I was very thankful they were with me, as it took their insistence to finally convince this PA that I needed something more. I made the difficult, yet lifesaving, decision to leave work for three weeks in order to check myself into a partial hospitalization program.

As I was on the verge of acting out a plan of suicide, it was not based on selfishness whatsoever. It was the pain of the debilitating depression and not knowing if or when I would ever get better.

Friends and loved ones need to somehow provide those who are suffering with a sense of hope. Suicide is not the answer.

As with all of my posts, comments are welcomed and encouraged.

10 thoughts on “Suicide is NOT Selfish

  1. Gee Jen

    I agree 100% and yet at the same time respectfully disagree. Having also been ‘there’and knowing that feeling of ‘they’d be better off without me’ I understand it’s not selfish. I think the difference is knowing that that belief is not true and trying, as you did, to do something about it. I don’t believe it’s selfishness that stops people from trying and reaching out for help but I do think I still believe suicide can be a selfish act.

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    1. allevin18 Post author

      I think for some, it is incredibly difficult to understand that the feeling is not true. Everybody’s depression and everybody’s pain and suffering is different. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I appreciate you reading my blog and for taking the time to comment and to share your thoughts and perspective! Thank you! Al

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  2. Midnight Demon

    Hi Al, I’ve been in similar situations, except instead of people calling me selfish, it is more of blaming me for causing pain to my loved ones.

    Can I ask what you learned in partial? Was it DBT or CBT? Coping skills? Did you have a safety plan? Sorry if this is intrusive. My care has been centered around DBT while inpatient. There are no more partial programs in my area and even when there were, they were DBT based.
    Thanks for your time

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    1. allevin18 Post author

      Thanks for the comments. You’re not being intrusive at all. It’s interesting, I would say that at the partial hospitalization program, there was really no individual therapy, unless I scheduled something after the end of the day and only if they had openings. We had OT sessions on daily living and goal setting, we learned ABOUT different types of therapy, we had a group therapy session (like a support group, but led by a professional), there was a bit (not enough) yoga and mindfulness, one or two sessions of music therapy, and some sessions led by a nurse discussing meds and such. Every day they checked in with us on where we labeled our own anxiety and depression based on a scale of 1-10. Otherwise, I don’t recall creating a specific safety plan with them. I think they confirmed upon intake as to whether or not we knew what Tod do or who to contact if necessary. So, I wouldn’t be able to label the partial hospitalization program as utilizing a particular type of therapy. I’ve done a fair amount of learning on my own and from others in a support group that I still attend about many types of therapy. I believe strongly in CBT and, although I don’t know much about it, DBT seems very similar and takes it a step further by incorporating more skills and strategies such as the mindfulness and mediation. Sorry…that seems to have been a great deal of mumbo jumbo 🙂 Not sure it was helpful. Feel free to ask me any follow-up question you may have! Thanks again for reading my blog and for your comments. Al

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  3. Izzy

    Hey, I’m a big fan of your podcast and I’m a little disappointed that I haven’t seen any uploads the past month or so. I’d be very interested to hear a podcast with no guest, just you telling your full story from start to finish. I think it’d help people going through something intense get some perspective.

    Regarding this blog post, I think when people refer to suicide as being selfish they are talking about the act itself, objectively speaking. Since, objectively, it is a selfish act to kill one’s self based on personal pain even though it’ll harm people close to them. I think people try to use it as an argument against committing suicide, since it shows someone that they do have value.
    I am going through an intense episode of DPDR, and that triggers depression for me. One thing that keeps me going is not myself, but knowing that killing myself will have a negative impact on my friends and family.
    Thanks for doing what you do, your be podcasts have helped during a really tough time!
    Izzy

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    1. allevin18 Post author

      Izzy,
      Thanks very much for your kind words on the podcast. I really appreciate that. I publish a new episode every other Sunday. My latest episode was published last Sunday. It was an interview with Justin Birchbichler, a testicular cancer survivor who has dealt with depression. The direct link is here:

      https://allevin18.podbean.com/e/al-interviews-justin-birckbichler-testicular-cancer-survivor-mens-health-activist-founder-of-a-ballsy-sense-of-tumor/

      Thanks for proposing an episode of just my story. I’ve been sticking to the format of always interviewing somebody who has been through depression. I’ve considered, if I have more time, posting episodes on the “off” Sunday that consist of interviews with people related in some way to men with depression, but not men themselves (I.e. spouses of men who have struggled with depression, therapists who work with men and depression, adult children of men with depression, etc). I was a guest on a different show (Beyond Your Past) recently in which I shared my entire story. If you’re interested in checking that out, the link is at:

      http://beyondyourpastradio.com/podcast-ep-90-depression-and-mens-mental-health/

      I appreciate your perspective on my “Suicide is NOT Selfish” post. I do understand how it could be thought of as selfish when one considers the fact that it would harm others close to them. I just believe that when one is so ill and in such pain that they are unable to understand that it will harm others. I truly believed others would be better off without me.

      I hope that you are getting the support you may need in working through your DPDR. Thanks again for your kind words about the podcast, for reading my blog, and for taking the time to comment on it! Al

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