Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2015 Nancy Virden
I read today in the honorable (please catch the sarcasm) iNTouch magazine that notes were finally found in the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide. The article states it wasn’t one coherent letter that Williams left behind, but several little notes he wrote on scraps of paper that form his goodbye. One note is alleged to have simply read, “Time to go.”
One never knows what thoughts are in another person’s brain. Regardless of the media’s extremely foolish documentary describing Williams last hours, (it thoughtlessly promotes copycat suicide by its use of details) we can speculate all day and not know what Williams was thinking before he died.
I was a guest on a radio show* one week after his death last August. The topic was suicide. A regular on the show holds the position of antagonist. It appears to be his job to spark debate.
Unfortunately under the circumstances, he took a typically misinformed, if not hateful stance and promoted stigma. He reiterated that suicide is selfish (or at least Robin Williams was) and that if Williams had so much money he should have sought the best help available and not died by suicide. It was a simplistic argument against a complex issue that takes a promising life every 18 minutes.
Suicide is difficult to comprehend for most because it defies one of our most basic instincts, that of survival. We hear stories of people going to great lengths to stay alive, we run to the ER when we are sick, and we praise the efforts of first responders. We know alive is better than dead.
People with major depression likely have the same survival instinct as anyone, only it can be surpassed by a pain that is without measure. Suicide is most often the result of a mood disorder run wild – like a forest fire – and getting out can seem impossible, especially when one’s ill brain is yelling, “It’s better to die!”
The inTouch article closes with the message that no one can understand the pain Williams was in. I disagree.
Though each person’s situation, depression, relationships, finances, and thoughts are different, there is a commonality between people who died by suicide and suicide attempt survivors. That is, we do know the pain that consumes to such a degree that the darkness of death seems preferable to the light of life.
Suicide note or not, no one can adequately explain a suicidal mindset so that those who have not been there can fully grasp it. And believe me, if you haven’t experienced it, you don’t want to.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.
-pictures from Qualitystockphotos.com