Suicide is Painless

Suicide is painless. That’s what they say, right?

In America alone, someone dies by suicide every thirteen minutes.

Let that sink in for a second.

Every thirteen minutes, someone in America takes his own life.

We lost another celebrity this week. The world stood stunned at the news of Chris Cornell’s passing. Suicide. Again.

Today we are talking about suicide. Because of Chris Cornell. And we’ve been talking about suicide for the last month because of the popular Netflix show based on the book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. It’s a conversation we need to keep having.

Mothers are clutching their pearls saying they don’t want their children to watch this show. They don’t want them getting any ideas. Schools are pulling the book from the library. It spreads the wrong kind of message. It glorifies suicide.

Let’s get something straight here. Talking about suicide in no way glorifies it, and watching a television show where a young girl violently slits her wrists in the bathtub after being raped, after watching her best friend get raped does not glorify suicide. Exposing the way a mother reacts when she finds her daughter lying dead in the bathtub from self-inflicted wrist wounds does not glorify suicide.

Most people don’t commit suicide as a reaction to something. The girl in the show didn’t commit suicide because one bad thing happened to her. She was suicidal. She did not react to a bad event and decide to kill herself. She was already going to kill herself, and her life experiences only increased the volume of the voices in her head telling her to do it.

Suicide is not a reaction. Suicide is an illness. A mental illness, and it’s more than a grasp for attention or a selfish act as I’ve recently read.

Suicide is not painless. It’s not an escape, a way out. If you crawl into the mind of a person who suffers with suicidal thoughts, you might be enlightened as to what you’ll learn. In his world where suicidal ideation controls his mind, he is in constant tug of war with himself and the inner voices. In his head, suicide is the most selfless act that he can commit because that’s what they tell him over and over and over again

He will no longer plague the world. Everyone will be better off without him, and the voices in his head keep shouting it. Until he can no longer tune them out, until his world is an echo of screams saying, “Do it. Do it. Do it. The world will be better without you in it.”

So he ties a rope around his neck and hangs himself.

And we gasp at our loss and mourn an icon, a singer, a comedian, a writer, and this list goes on. We watch the news and hear about more teenagers taking their own lives, but in most cases, it’s not because of a television show or a book or a song.  We want to blame the book. We want to blame the song. We want to blame something. But the truth is, the only thing to blame is an illness, an illness that takes more lives than cancer.

The country is talking about suicide today, and we need to continue to talk until everyone who doesn’t suffer from mental illness understands that the world of someone with suicidal ideation is different than yours.  The mind of a person who’s plagued with suicidal thoughts, cannot compare to the mind of someone who isn’t. We need to educate ourselves to better understand this population of people so that we can support them the way they need our support.

We need to watch the television shows. We need to read the books. We need to talk to our friends who are open enough to expose their struggles, and we need to break the stigma of mental illness. 

We must keep talking about it. About suicide and depression. About all mental illness. We need to quit throwing around the word crazy like a hot potato. We must stop ignoring the signs. We must advocate for better access to mental health care professionals for people who suffer from this very deadly illness.

Someone dies by suicide in America every thirteen minutes. While you are reading these words, a person sits in her bathroom with a razor against her wrist and quiets the voices in her head, the ones who keep screaming at her, for good.

depression meme

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12 thoughts on “Suicide is Painless

  1. Thank you for this post. I had woken up in the middle of the night and looked at my phone when I saw Chris Cornell had committed suicide. I’ve followed his music sing late middle school, so yes it hit hard. Talking about things and drawing attention to them and not letting the conversation die is indeed the best thing that can happen. Those who say showed like 13 Reason glorify suicide are the types who have true issues because they’d rather just sweep everything under the rug and pretend nothing is wrong, which is precisely why things remain wrong. All this is a rehash of what you’ve already written much more eloquently, but it’s certainly a topic that gets a response out of people. Plus, you handed it so well in your book.

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  2. Having spent many, many hours with people plagued by suicidal thoughts, some with histories of multiple attempts, some just returned to consciousness from the very threshold of deaths door, I can attest to all you say here. Such depression is a real Hell that none who have not been there, or let someone lead them on a full tour of it as Ovid’s ghost did Dante, can really know. Painless? No, for far too many it is the very definition of pain.

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  3. Reblogged this on dilettante factory and commented:
    You can’t understand it unless you’ve felt it. And that’s not being trite or difficult, it’s just impossible to really convey with mere words what waltzing with Death is like. But you can try, and accept that it is real, and not a grasp for attention, etc. Thank you Mandi for this.

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  4. I have to disagree with you on 13 Reasons Why. I watched it and I think it very much does glorify suicide. It’s not just talking about suicide that glorifies it, it’s talking about in a certain way. The girl is bullied, assaulted and ignored in life by people whose crimes go unrecognized and unpunished. When she kills herself people pay attention to her and feel sorry for her. The people who bullied her feel remorse and face punishment. Those mothers are not ‘clutching their pearls’. They are concerned for their childrens’ safety.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Amazing how depression tells the same lie verbatim – that the world, that our families, would be better off without us. I’ve struggled with suicidal ideation and a close call. When my son was five and six he spoke those same words. Devastated me, for I knew firsthand how painful those words are to feel, to hear, to believe. He has been in treatment since he was four. I since I was 18. Still, we struggle.

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