Depression Doesn’t Make You Stupid

(Trigger warning: suicide)

Of all the idiocy around common thinking about suicide, nothing annoys me more than this little gem:

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Depression is not simple enough to be fixed by a clichéd trope. Mental illness never is, but I hate that line primarily because being suicidal doesn’t make you stupid. It doesn’t make you think death is impermanent for god sakes.

Suicide is kind of a major decision </understatement>, so by the time someone starts asking how to die instead of why, they’ve already taken a long, hard look at all the awfulness involved. They know it’s permanent. They’re comfortable with that fact. Its permanence is soothing when you’re in that much pain, so please put your cute saying away somewhere muggy and dark where nobody needs to see it again.

(Continued below)

I’ll never understand what makes lay people think they can explain suicide to a suicidal person when they’ve never been there. By ‘been there’, I don’t mean one of those miserable whims that arrives for five minutes after you break up with your girlfriend. If you think you understand what kind of darkness lies behind suicidal ideation and have never been depressed, you’re probably wrong.

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If someone you know is suicidal, they need the best help possible. That isn’t you. You might play a part in bridging the gap between the present tense and the time when the patient gets real help, but counselling them out of it using rhymey phrases is as useless as it is condescending.

Suicides are not strictly looking for solutions, anyway. They’re looking for an analgesic—any damn thing that will make the pain stop because it’s intolerable. Telling a suicidal person that death is not the answer is just patently incorrect. Death will relieve their pain, so they need a different solution that removes their symptoms entirely. Depression is a psychiatric illness with very real biological components, so proper medical support is needed, not stupid idioms.

Being suicidal is not a failing or a weakness. It’s not even selfish. It’s a side effect of an illness. Much as you would need insulin to treat diabetes, depression patients need real medical help.

Having a chemically fucked up brain does not turn you into a fool. It just makes you ill, and 75% of suicidal patients are clinically depressed. The cure for all that sickness is definitely not your judgement. If you know someone who’s suicidal, don’t leave them alone, but don’t try counselling them yourself. Get them into a ward so that they can be stabilised.

If I had an epileptic seizure in your presence, would you keep me protected and get me to a hospital if needed, or would you explain to me why my seizure wasn’t a good solution to the problem in my brain? Then why do you do it with depressives? Suicide is the second leading cause of death for under 35s. Always take it seriously.




Hotlines

National Suicide Hotlines USA
South African Depression and Anxiety Support Group
Australia Suicide Hotline
UK Suicide Hotline
Canada Suicide Hotline
Dutch suicide hotline
Crisis lines USA

 

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4 thoughts on “Depression Doesn’t Make You Stupid

  1. Thank you for this wonderfully insightful post. I believe you have captured the mindset of a suicidally depressed person very well. By the time we reach that place, it is not a spur of the moment decision, it has been rationalized and calculated and it feels reasonable.

    In my own cases (4 serious attempts and a dozen drug/alcohol related “I don’t care what happens” type incidents) the pain manifests itself physically and it hurts to your core… existence itself is excruciating.

    Reading this I believe you have articulated things extremely well and you are correct that many people take things too lightly… they cannot separate momentary sadness from feelings that feel infused into your soul.

    It is good that you included suicide crisis hotlines. I eventually learned to turn to them in times of dire need and having someone just there to listen without judging me meant the world in the moment.

    Take care and thank you for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

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