Selfish or Selfless?

TAGS: contemplating suicide, understanding suicide, hopelessness, mental health, depression, Just Sayin', strength athlete, suicide, Skip Hill


I used to be a person that considered suicide a weak-assed, selfish, and cowardly way to get out of manning-up against the things that sometimes strike down on us in life.  It is a predictable response from machismo males — especially those that lift weights, want to be huge, and want others to see them as physically and psychologically strong. Ironically, sometimes our physical and psychological facades hide how we truly feel on the inside.

I will be completely upfront and honest and admit that my life has been a charmed one. I have not ever truly considered the option of suicide, simply because I have had no real tragedy that could put me in that kind of position. That is not to say that I still won’t find myself there. I strongly believe that almost everyone out there has a line or a point where they just cannot cope anymore. Most of us are fortunate enough to have never gotten to that line, but unfortunately there are people who have. For someone like myself who has not been to that point, to judge someone who has, I would find egregious.

Suicide is most times related strongly to depression. I say this because with the odd exception of someone over-reacting and spontaneously—in the moment—taking their life, most people go down a long road of depression prior to committing suicide. That makes the act of suicide a well-thought out and mulled-over decision. Without having a very good understanding of suicide and depression, I used to think that people basically just said, “fuck it” and decided at that moment in time that they couldn’t go on. That is rarely the case. I have heard that a lot of people find peace after making their decision, knowing that the rest of the world is better off without them.

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If you feel you don’t have that line or you could never get to that point, maybe you should be grateful that your life is good and that things have, for the most part, gone your way. Yes, we have a lot of control over the direction of our lives and career paths and that sort of thing, but we do not have control over spouses leaving us, losing a child to a tragic accident or disease, or catastrophic loss of a job that can destroy you from the inside, especially as a man that feels the need to provide for his family.

Drawing a line in the sand

We can sit back and judge anyone that makes the decision to take their life, but without truly understanding that person’s situation, we can’t understand what drove them to that point. What may be important to you or I may be completely different to someone else. You and I may feel that losing a job and having to sell your home is just something to deal with, while someone else may see that as a crippling failure in life. Combined with other negative events, this may start to make their lives feel like they are spiraling hopelessly out of control.

I stated earlier that I used to buy into the “selfish” argument about suicide — that anyone that took their life was only thinking about themselves and not their family, their kids, their future, etc. That position is just too easy to take because on the surface, it clearly appears that way. However, in reality, it has nothing to do with selfish reasons. I believe it has more to do with two main things:

  1.  The person feels everyone else is better off without them, sometimes as if they are a burden on others.
  2.  The person is hopeless and cannot cope. The person feels that things will not change.

Where am I now? I know that there are people that have had to deal with much more than I have at this point in my life and I can understand—but not condone—their final act. I have been fortunate in my life to not lose a child or a wife. I am honestly unsure how I would react and whether that would push me over the line or not. I cannot definitively say, because I have not been in that position. This is why I would prefer other people keep their mouth's shut instead of saying negative things about someone that decided they could no longer cope and made the decision—their personal decision—to take their life.

MORE: Depression Answers for Athletes

I think most of the people that get angry about suicide resent the fact, thinking, “Hey, I’m over hear getting my ass kicked by life and I keep fighting, so I am not going to respect you for giving up.” It is easier to view someone who takes their own life as a “quitter” and “weak” than someone who could no longer cope and felt hopeless. I can’t imagine feeling so hopeless that I would consider taking my own life, but I get that some of us get to that point. I hope I never stare down that decision because as I sit here typing this, I cannot say what I would do if pushed to that point.

We ALL have a line in the sand.

Denying it or not knowing where that line is doesn’t mean there is no line. All of us, at some point, can no longer take it.

Just Sayin’.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline



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