Selfish(?) Suicide, Depression & Mental Illness

Many people think that a suicide attempt is a selfish act because the person doesn't seem to care about those they leave behind.

But there are different circumstances prevailing :-

Calls For Help

We recognise that many so-called suicide attempts are actually desperate calls for help aimed at catching the attention and support of those who would have been left behind.

Unfortunately, too many calls for help become suicides when help is not forthcoming quickly enough or - as in the case of even a paracetamol overdose -  the damage can be irreversible.

Death With Dignity
Unfortunately medical science hasn't done as well at conquering pain or terminal illness as it has at prolonging life..... but at what level of quality?

Everyone has their own limit of the pain, debilitation and suffering they would consider a worthwhile existence. 

When the prognosis is a "life" of even greater suffering and deterioration then who could blame them for wanting out? 

And who would be selfish enough to deny them that right?

Murder / Suicide
In these sad times, we're all too familiar with news of suicide bombers and others who would go out in a "blaze of glory" at the expense and heartbreak of innocents.

Terrorist zealots are ultimately enacting the brainwashing of others and are essentially pawns in somebody else's power game.

Those that see so bleak a future that they feel entitled - even obligated - to kill their loved ones and then themselves are obviously suffering mental illness by any measure we would use.

The others, those who feel so angry at society that they need to kill as many classmates, workmates or strangers as they can before they're forced into a choice between arrest, death by police or suicide are either evil or deranged and certainly not thinking rationally.

Genuine Suicide
For those who really expect to end it all, rather than selfish abandonment isn't it more likely they'd truly believe their loved ones would be much better off without them?

Every case may be different but a common theme among those who have had to deal with the shock of a suicide is that the departed was a very caring, generous and loving family man or woman. So why brand them as selfish in their final act of desperation?  Surely this is a bout of mental illness not selfishness.


Depression is a terrible and often relentless disease.  A lot of us may feel we've been close to that edge but feeling down, in crisis or stressed, is far removed from the hopeless abyss of depression although it may exhibit similar symptoms.  A depressive cannot just snap out of it but even they may not realise that fact and try to get help the help they need. 

They may consider - and resist - suicide many times until the day when a depth of depression combines with opportunity and the rest is tragic history.

Be Supportive
Mental illness is something that can strike anyone at any time.  Whether it's something headed towards a call for help, a serious suicide attempt or an act of terrorism there will be signs that you may one day regret missing.  Behavioral changes and mood swings could be a sign of depression, drug dependency or temporary stress but all any of us can do is to maintain real contact and dialogue with our loved ones and offer whatever support seems appropriate.

But we have to understand that unless the suspect's behavior becomes legally significant and enough to warrant intervention or sectioning then we cannot force anyone to seek or accept help they don't want.

Be Forgiving
It's impossible for any rational person to understand what drives anyone to take their own lives but we have to accept that for the time it took, the act made sense in the throes of mental illness and wasn't intended to hurt or disrespect those that are left to mourn. 

Surely suicide can never be selfish, it is after all the ultimate sacrifice or rejection of the gift of life.

And those that remain must forgive themselves for whatever signs they think they missed or didn't take seriously enough.  Anger is a natural part of any grieving process - anger at the departed and anger at ourselves for remembered slights or omissions; this is particularly poignant where suicide is concerned.

God chooses not to interfere with the acts of mankind and we humans can do no better.

Let the dead rest in the peace they so desperately sought and let the living make peace with celebrating and remembering the loved one in full health.

Be Vigilant & Caring

People don't bomb or commit other atrocities on communities in which they feel a sense of worth and belonging.

And people don't take their own lives except out of desperate hopelessness.

Mental illness aside, for the few who genuinely have no hope, no future and no quality of life perhaps we - society - owe them the right to choose when is enough.

We routinely put pets "to sleep" as a final act of love to "end their suffering", don't people deserve the right to choose for themselves?


Should euthanasia be legal for terminally ill with no quality of life?

Final poll results: 28-days poll expired: 26 Jan 2016
Don't know


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