*reposting in honor of Chris Cornell. Thank you for everything*
Unsurprisingly, lots of opinions, theories, and soapboxes have come out in the wake of Chris Cornell’s suicide. When Robin Williams committed suicide, I wrote a long piece attempting to remove ignorant peoples’ heads from their asses, so I guess I should write again…
Suicide is not selfish
It must be nice to exist in a reality where you would “never dream of committing suicide.” I would not know how that is. It must be so peaceful and delightful to sit comfortably in your existence, judging people who struggle. I have always understood that, if you do not have depression, bipolar, anxiety, etc., it is difficult to understand what it is like. Your only comparison are moods – sadness, stressed, etc. It is easy to assume that a bad day is comparable to depression, but in reality, it is wrong. It is easy to say that you would never do “something so selfish”, but I have to ask, are you trying to say you plan on never dying?
Yes, if someone commits suicide, they chose to end their lives. However, did they really? Unless you are living in that person’s mind and body, do you have any clue what they were going through that made them decide death was more preferable to life? Sit with that for a moment. There is a person sitting alone right now that fully believes that they would rather die than take another breath on this planet. Would you sit next to them and say, “Wow, that’s really selfish of you?” Is it not actually selfish of YOU to place your feelings on another person without any facts? Is it not selfish of YOU to expect this person to make your life more comfortable by just “dealing with it”? Do you understand that most people who commit suicide are firmly convinced that everyone they love is better off without them? Do you have any idea the hell that is?
Depression makes your brain lie to you, so while maybe subjectively you say “They had everything they could possibly want” or whatever justification you want to spout, depression will whisper in your ear about every inadequacy, every mistake, and all the reasons why you are miserable, it is your fault, and everyone would be better off if you would just die.
More importantly, do you call cancer patients selfish if they die?
We have all seemingly agreed that depression, bipolar, etc. are diseases. These diseases are known to cause suicidal ideation. If you don’t know what depression feels like, let me try to describe it: every day you wake up and you need to do a triathlon wearing cement shorts and shoes. Chris Cornell had to do that plus perform on stage in front of thousands of adoring fans, give interviews, etc. I feel overwhelmed with pressure to make my kids breakfast, and you are calling this man who overcame so much, gave so much to so many, selfish? The man had a disease, and he died. His cause of death was suicide. He was a son, husband, father, and human being, and you feel entitled to besmirch him because you don’t understand that diseases kill indiscriminately?
I don’t believe anyone has ever asked for a mental illness. We all do the best we can with what we are given. Going back to the cancer patient, let’s say they are in chronic pain, or their quality of life was non-existent, would you say it is selfish of them to want to die? Does the physical appearance of pain make it more or less selfish to die? Maybe I’m wrong, but to me, Chris Cornell succumbed to his diseases. He committed suicide, and he had a mental illness that causes these feelings. This is not a strong or not strong situation, because sometimes even the strongest man alive can be weak, and sometimes that weak moment is the only moment he couldn’t be weak. I have put up with enough pain in my life to last me a few lifetimes, and I haven’t killed myself, and I have said “I am somehow alive, despite my best efforts”. When I have wanted/tried to kill myself? All I heard with every breath and step was, “maybe slit your wrists…take these pills…everyone hates you…kill yourself…” I SEE images of my slit wrists in my mind sometimes. Soooo, my brain’s intrusive thoughts that are un-bidden by me make me…selfish?
Again, I have no idea what “made him do it” and frankly, it is none of my or any other opinion giver’s business. I don’t know the man. His fame, stardom, and music give me literally NO entitlement to his life. I am sad, and I wish this had not happened. I am disgusted by the people that are sitting there on Twitter saying he is selfish. Do you realize, with your little tweets of concern about his kids, that they could read you shitting on their dead father? For all your concern about their well-being, you seem to have no issue calling a dead man names.
A person’s mental illness, like their life, is not run by committee.
No one has the right to judge anyone, you are not the expert on another person, and unless you were in Chris Cornell’s brain in those fatal last moments, you have no clue what he was thinking. When I almost killed myself, I was firmly convinced that, if I killed myself, I would save my family from being murdered by evil demons. I was in psychosis. I was convinced people on the internet were coming to kill me. See, I’m not dead, so I can tell you that story. I was trying to choke myself with my hoodie strings, because I was being admitted to the mental hospital, but I was convinced if I did not kill myself, my family was going to die. The only thing that stopped me was that my arms were not strong enough to get enough tension to override my body’s inclination to fight.
Would you call me psychotically thinking that my death would save my family…selfish? What if he was having the same type of psychosis? Report after report says he was not acting like himself. Depression can cause psychosis. Even if he wasn’t psychotic, no one has any goddamn clue why it happened. I highly, highly doubt he sat down and said, “Man, screw my family, I’m doing this for ME! I am number one, and I am gonna die!”
Mental illnesses affect the whole family, and when anyone dies for any reason, it is a loss for all.
It is more difficult in suicide, because you wonder why they would make that choice. The reality is, he succumbed to his disease. Sometimes, our minds can play deadly tricks on us, and sometimes not everyone is fortunate enough to get out alive when that happens. People might be more forthcoming about getting help if jackasses wouldn’t run around diminishing what mental illness does to a human mind and body, and telling people who are genuinely suffering that they are selfish. I am sure his family really appreciates your concern about his selfish act of dying.
Once again, I say, people need to walk a mile in other’s shoes before even think about judging their actions. Over the years, I have known a few people who committed suicide, and I understood perfectly well why they did it. All except one had painful, chronic diseases that were only going to get worse and would kill them eventually. One wasn’t in his right mind. None did it out of selfishness, but to stop the unending pain they were suffering, AND to take the burden of caring for them off their respective families.
Couldn’t agree more. I was enraged when I wrote this and started to hear the selfish nonsense with Chris Cornell or Chester Bennington.
So many think bc they bought an album or went to a show that like, they know these people or know the hells they were in. Then painful lyrics we can sing along to came from somewhere and they gave us all music to cope while they could.
I really think and wish if suicide was less stigmatized and taboo, and people could openly and honestly talk about these struggles without fear they’ll be put in a hospital or what have you, if people could feel safe to speak about those dark places, we wouldn’t lose some. In the cases you mention – they deserve to choose their peace and when to end their pain, if they want.
Thank you for reading and commenting, I’ve enjoyed chatting with you, even if the topics are dark!
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I attempted suicide when I was a young teenager—took a bunch of pills. But my mother found me in time, got me to the hospital, and my stomach was pumped out. When she brought me home, she told me that the doctor had suggested counseling, but I told her I didn’t need it. And that was that, never spoken of again. I think if I had admitted I needed help, or my mom had insisted, it would have saved me a lot of future grief. But in those days, it was hushed up. I don’t think anyone ever knew what I tried to do except my mom and dad. I never even told my best friend or future husband. A shame surrounded attempting suicide back then…and still does.
I’ve enjoyed chatting as well. Sometimes, sharing the bad shit helps.
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I am so sorry. Really. I know that pain and that loneliness. The only thing that stopped me – I had my plan, I had that happiness of the end, it was real. But my friend hugged me at a concert during nothing else matters by Metallica and I realized I’d make her sad and I couldn’t do that. I promised myself then and kept it since.
Like you, my parents knew I was self harming, the cuts were very obvious. I went to therapy maybe twice and was guilted a lot about it. Airing dirty laundry my god if I have ever hated a phrase more in my life.
I’ve put it all to I am me and this made me. I don’t think I could see the world or crack the jokes or really appreciate some things like I do. It kind of just must have happened how it had to because that’s how it did.
The shame and the blame, it eats us and yeah, just letting it out. There’s so much more room to breathe and be. It takes so much to keep it away that it leaves you no energy to be who you are. That’s what I’ve been learning and it is a relief. Like yes, ir is that simple, just be exactly who and how you are and let everyone else deal with it.
Not for nothing, we definitely did not know what we did not know. Between mental health awareness not being a thing, dirty laundry, etc. we had knownway of truly knowing anything beyond “I’m the problem” and so we became the problems we believed we were. There simply was no way for us to know until we could even form the question “why am I so unhappy?” You don’t question normal until it just becomes incomprehensible. And that young? We just assume it’s all our fault. We’re wired that way.
I really think it’s not just sharing shit. It’s turning shit into gold. Look how many artists just took all the crap that happened to them and turned it into something else. Transmute. That has me excited, like I don’t need to hold any of this pain. Nobody does.
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Writing is my therapy—I write out the pain. Have for years.
Like you, NOW, I could never do suicide. I would not want to cause my son to feel the sadness, grief, and perhaps, self-blame he might feel. I love him too much.