When I considered ending my life, I heard condemning words: “suicide is so selfish”. Indeed it may seem so, especially to those loved ones left behind. However in my mind I felt I was doing a good thing for my family and the world. They would be better off without me, I thought. I felt I was being kind, generous even. I was wrong. My feelings were real though.
Suicide is not selfish, it is the devastating result of a sickness, an illness, often left untreated. An illness. That can significantly distort our thoughts and behaviors and actions. An illness. Not ‘demons’ or a character flaw or some inherent weakness. An illness that can be treated, where hope prevails and healing is possible.
What would the world be like if having a mental illness did not have the asphyxiating stigma attached to it? What if people who battle mental illnesses felt no shame or embarrassment or fear of losing jobs or families? Would lives be saved? People made whole? Healing take place?
We need to do more about this. We need to talk more and be more open and understanding. In a country where suicide is the 10th leading cause of death, where 22 veterans die by suicide everyday, where there are 1 million suicide attempts a year, we need to have the courage to fully grasp in our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, our homes, our government, our military, that mental health conditions are ILLNESSES- diagnosable and treatable illnesses. And that those who suffer have dignity and are worthy to be treated.
My heart breaks for all 150 souls onboard Germanwings 9525. Lord, may they rest in eternal peace.