People very often make the mistake of assuming there is some sort of logic behind suicidal thinking. They assume you must want to die because something, which would certainly make sense. And because they don’t want you to harm yourself, they try to argue you out of your desperation by listing reasons why you should live, looking for the blessings in your life in order to say, See? You think you have reasons to die. But I’ll give you reasons to live.
They may tell you that you are a nice person, a good friend. They remind you that you mean a lot to them. They might point out that you do well at your job, that you have worthwhile hobbies. If you have a partner, a spouse, a boyfriend or girlfriend, you will be asked to think about your supportive relationship, and what it would do to your loved one if you took your own life. And if you have children…well, what could be more reason to live?
I am grateful to Stephen Fry for disclosing that he made a suicide attempt last year. For here is a man with blessings galore, a National Treasure, no less. He has a long and notable career, which frequently allows him to travel and no doubt provides more than sufficient income. He has endeared himself to the nation in print, on television and on the radio. And yet none of that was enough to deter him from trying to take his own life, because that is simply not how the suicidal brain works.
But you’re a wonderful person!
Imagine that you have no sense of self-worth. You don’t have low self-esteem. I’m not just saying you put yourself down. You go far beyond that and believe you are nothing, worth literally nothing.
And you’ve got a lovely bloke
You look at your partner and remember how you once brought something to the relationship. You can’t imagine what that can have been, because now you know you can never be anything but a burden to that person. They say they don’t, but how they must resent you. It would be impossible not to, because you bring everyone around you down. You didn’t mean to, but you have turned the person who was once your lover into – oh, God, how clinical – your carer and they must hate you for it. This isn’t what they signed up for, feeding you pills on time, holding you while you cry for hours, driving you to the hospital in search of emergency psychiatric help.
Look at all the work you’ve put into your career
You look back at your work life, you qualifications, your achievements, and it all seems so utterly pointless. Why on earth did you push for those promotions, strive for those grades? None of it can save you. None of it can make you happy. You feel like a fool, a fool and a fraud, for daring to put yourself forward, for imagining you could be someone else’s manager. You asked for responsibility, and now here you are, unwashed in bed at 2pm while your team has to work extra hard to cover for your absence. All your past successes only serve to underline your current crushing failure as a human being.
And think of your children!
They want you to look at your children, to look at their faces and then you’re supposed to realise that you want to be around to watch them grow up after all What they don’t factor in, is that you know you are a terrible mother. Once upon a time you used to be able to manage the mundane stuff of motherhood – bathtimes, dinners, affection – but now you can’t even do those basics. You love them so much but you know you are failing them, that you’re not the mother they need. You can’t be like the other mums at the school gates when you can’t even get up. You know that you may well be responsible for passing on faulty genes, dooming them to the kind of mental torture that you now endure. And you know that in being ill, in not being present for them, you are only making future mental ill-health more likely. You are damaging them, just by being their mum. And here’s the Cach-22: you’ll damage them more by taking your own life. Whatever you do, you will be wrong. Whatever you do, you are a terrible mother.
So please don’t tell me to count my blessings.