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There's Nothing Selfish About Suicide | Katie Hurley

I am a survivor of suicide.

I don't talk about it a lot these days, as I've reached the point where it feels like a lifetime ago. Healing was a long and grief-stricken process. There were times when I felt very alone in my grief and there were times when I felt lost and confused. The trouble with suicide is that no one knows what to say. No one knows how to react. So they smile and wave and attempt distraction... but they never ever say the word. The survivors, it seems, are often left to survive on their own.

I experienced endless waves of emotion in the days, weeks, months and even years following the loss of my father. The "what ifs" kept me up at night, causing me to float through each day in a state of perpetual exhaustion. What if I had answered the phone that night? Would the sound of my voice have changed his mind? Would he have done it at a later date, anyway? Survivor's guilt, indeed.

Sometimes, I cried. Sometimes, I sat perfectly still watching the waves crash down on Main Beach, hoping for a sign of some kind that he had reached a better place. Sometimes, I silently scolded myself for not seeing the warning signs. Sometimes, I bargained with God or anyone else who might be in charge up there. Bring him back to us. Please, just bring him back. Sometimes I felt angry. Why us? Why me? Why him?

Yes, I experienced a range of emotions before making peace with the loss. But one thought that never ever (not even for one second) crossed my mind was this ill-informed opinion that suicide is selfish. Suicide is a lot of things, but selfish isn't one of them.

Suicide is a decision made out of desperation, hopelessness, isolation and loneliness. The black hole that is clinical depression is all-consuming. Feeling like a burden to loved ones, feeling like there is no way out, feeling trapped and feeling isolated are all common among people who suffer from depression.

People who say that suicide is selfish always reference the survivors. It's selfish to leave children, spouses and other family members behind, so they say. They're not thinking about the survivors, or so they would have us believe. What they don't know is that those very loved ones are the reason many people hang on for just one more day. They do think about the survivors, probably up until the very last moment in many cases. But the soul-crushing depression that envelops them leaves them feeling like there is no alternative. Like the only way to get out is to opt out. And that is a devastating thought to endure.

Until you've stared down that level of depression, until you've lost your soul to a sea of emptiness and darkness... you don't get to make those judgments. You might not understand it, and you are certainly entitled to your own feelings, but making those judgments and spreading that kind of negativity won't help the next person. In fact, it will only hurt others.

As the world mourns the loss of Robin Williams, people everywhere are left feeling helpless and confused. How could someone who appeared so happy in actuality be so very depressed? The truth is that many, many people face the very same struggle each and every day. Some will commit suicide. Some will attempt. And some will hang on for dear life. Most won't be able to ask for the help that they need to overcome their mental illness.

You can help.

Know the warning signs for suicide. 50-75% of people who attempt suicide will tell someone about their intention. Listen when people talk. Make eye contact. Convey empathy. And for the love of people everywhere, put down that ridiculous not-so-SmartPhone and be human.

Check in on friends struggling with depression. Even if they don't answer the phone or come to the door, make an effort to let them know that you are there. Friendship isn't about saving lost souls; friendship is about listening and being present.

Reach out to survivors of suicide. Practice using the words "suicide" and "depression" so that they roll off the tongue as easily as "unicorns" and "bubble gum." Listen as they tell their stories. Hold their hands. Be kind with their hearts. And hug them every single time.

Encourage help. Learn about the resources in your area so that you can help friends and loved ones in need. Don't be afraid to check in over and over again. Don't be afraid to convey your concern. One human connection can make a big difference in the life of someone struggling with mental illness and/or survivor's guilt.


Well-known member
Aug 17, 2012
The West Country
I really appreciate this person's perspective.
Of course, there will be those left behind who are angry and do feel that whoever they've lost is selfish - and that's ok too. Each individual would have their own response.

But this view needs to be out there.
It needs to be out there to help the survivors, and I agree that people definitely need to reach out more and indeed put down their stupid bloody mobile phones.

But it also needs to be out there to help those of us who have made attempts on our lives.
I remember finally going back to a college course a few years ago, having been off for 2 months after a suicide attempt and time in the psychiatric ward.
Sod's law, of course, that the subject of suicide came up on my first day back.
One particularly poisonous little bitch (who came from a very wealthy family and lived the life of riley) went on a 10 minute rant about how selfish suicide is, how people who do that don't care about anybody else etc.
Still to this day it winds me up that that view was put out there, and with such arrogance.


Well-known member
Sep 27, 2013
No-one ever says these things. It seems to even mention suicide is an aggressive thing to do.

I have come close to death by suicide several times. I have written suicide letters. I have thrown them away. My parents found one while I was hospitalised. Police have taken me from the bridge to hospital.

Sometimes I have felt I couldn't carry on and no-one cared and everyone was ok without me as I was forgotten even while still alive. Sometimes I thought I was going to a better place and that anyone who cared about me would be glad I was released from my torturous suffering and in a blissful heaven. Sometimes I was in such despair but trying to hang on so long that I wanted to survive so my family didn't have to tell people I was dead. That to kill myself was the ultimate insult to my family. In my hanging on I have ended up reckless and lost, with the TV giving me messages and finding huge significance in inconsequential occurrences. I have found myself rescued by the kindness of total strangers while I took careless risks with my safety.

It is weird how it is unspeakable, and that in such a short time it is all forgotten by everyone else. As if it was a moment of madness, with no risk of recurring. I feel I am balancing on a knife-edge but keeping my smile ready for onlookers with no idea if I can make it through the day.

I feel that the more times you have looked death in the eye, the easier it is to fall back into that suicidal state. The seemingly pointless hopeless futility of our short and unimportant lives makes any concern about how and when we die laughable.

When you have days where you speak to no-one, and are totally alone, it does feel pointless and not even something to be sad about. Something to feel nothing about.

Today is a bad day for me.


Well-known member
Jan 25, 2012
Sorry today is a bad day secretsurvivor :hug: Is it because of the isolation and loneliness you mention? So many of us feel alone :hug:


Well-known member
Aug 25, 2011
One particularly poisonous little bitch (who came from a very wealthy family and lived the life of riley) went on a 10 minute rant about how selfish suicide is, how people who do that don't care about anybody else etc.
Still to this day it winds me up that that view was put out there, and with such arrogance.
It's a disgusting attitude!:mad:


Well-known member
Sep 27, 2013
Sorry if my post brought up bad feelings for anyone. I saw the Psychiatrist today. I feel safe. I have some difficult memories but I am very determined to live my life. I am learning to be mindful in the moment, and to avoid looking backwards or forwards too much, but instead living my reality as it is now.

I am lucky in many ways. I am glad of the support I get on here; thank you. x
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