Day 7562 | Day 7579 | Day 7619
In my sophomore year of college my roommate was placed on the campus suicide watch. He had the tendency to bemoan his personal issues to anyone who would sit still long enough so it wasn't entirely shocking that he'd made a good enough dramatic performance to convince someone of the veracity of his own personal soap opera. Calls would come every morning for the next week: "How are you feeling today? Everything going all right? Hope you have a great day!" Not that it was her fault the script she read was entirely composed of patronizing euphemisms; we are culturally unable to have a true conversation about suicide.
Even here, where the sentiment isn't exactly uncommon, it's nearly impossible to have an actual discussion about suicide. No matter the wording, reasoning, or sentiment, any conversation about suicide almost immediately reduces itself to the regurgitation of trite aphorisms: "you probably need therapy", "seek help", or the euphemistic "you should talk to someone." Responding with thought processes stunted by cliche and maxim. It's not that I think they're dumb and only know how to use those platitudes, it's that I think that those platitudes are a part of a cultural script they read off of which inhibits them from actually thinking about the situation. They are not listening to what you have to say, they are contextualizing you within the spectrum of 'mental illness'. It wasn't you that said you wanted to die, it was Depression™. If you were thinking rationally you'd realize that.
Except all those classifications—all those contexts—are arbitrary, part of the reason there is such debate over what diagnoses will and will not be included in the DSM-V. What is encouraged behavior in some cultures is seen as pathological in others. It's more about deciding what is normal than what is unhealthy and when you start to do that, psychiatry ceases to be anything medical and begins to be a method of enforcing normative behavior. Hysteria to women in the 19th century, 'mental illness' to political dissidents in totalitarian regimes in the 20th, homosexuality until 1973. Psychiatry has a long history of being used to marginalize minority opinions. The message is to think happy thoughts and agree with the status quo—or else.
The psychiatry industry is one where it's in the business interests of pharmaceutical companies to pathologize previously 'normal' behaviors to create markets for new drugs, to take advantage of the stigma of mental illness by saying "The only thing that stands between you and normality is this bottle of pills. That'll be $9.95. See you next month!" An industry where there's an economic incentive for therapists not to help their patients become self-sufficient else they work themselves out of a job. The money is in the treatments, not cures. I'm not trying to imply that mental illness is a conspiracy, that arbitrary classifications are manufactured for the sole purpose of corporate profit, but only the willfully ignorant would deny that there are strong economic forces at work that are directly at odds with the mental health of society.
It's arbitrary. It's all arbitrary. Is it acceptable for guilt-ridden mass murderers to commit suicide? People with physically agonizing terminal illnesses, war veterans and refugees, rape victims? Regrettable, most people would agree. But illegitimate and incomprehensible? There'd be far more debate about that. Our decisions on whether a suicide is valid or not is based on the perceived amount of justifiable suffering, not the actual experience of it. To the others we're saying "You're not in enough pain, not broken enough, not frustrated/sad/angry/despondent enough to consider suicide. Take two of these and call me in the morning."
Were it up to me I'd have been dead two years ago. I derive little satisfaction from life and am completely unconvinced by the chorus of voices saying "It gets better." My experience hasn't borne out that hypothesis. In fact, as my life rapidly approaches entry into the real world, the point at which it's supposed to get better seems to recede into the distance like the tortoise in Zeno's Paradox. But they just repeat themselves, "Just stick it out for a few more years. I know life sucks right now but you have to do a lot of this really crappy stuff before you can really start enjoying it. There will be cake."
I'm trapped by society's attitudes towards life and death. Trapped by a life that delivers a median emotional state of detached resignation. Trapped by the knowledge of the effect my suicide would have on those close to me and the empathy I have for their own suffering. Awash in the unending frustration of being surrounded by people who will acknowledge your problem with a nod but are unwilling to subject themselves to the discomfort of actually addressing it. If I weren't so tightly bound by my own morals, I would've called it quits long ago. Is it unrealistic to want someone to say "You know, it seems like you've really thought this through; make the decision that's best for you"? Or is a shrill and insipid "Suicide is NOT a solution!" all I'm ever going to get?
Some day I'll get angry at everything. Angry enough that I'll just say fuck it and take sadistic pleasure in adding a little more unhappiness to the world. "Promise me that if you ever decide to do anything, you'll call me first." I hate making promises I can't keep.