Life as a Commodity
Selfishness is an attribute often applied to suicide victims, with weakness quick to follow. Ending one’s life seems to contribute more to a person’s reputation than their entire existence beforehand.
There is a seething sense of ownership behind the visage of friendship. A ravenous desire beneath the veneer of betrayal. One’s life is not one’s own, it seems to say. One’s life belongs to everyone, but oneself.
Life has become a commodity—not to be experienced by friends, but owned, tucked away, and forgotten. It is taken for granted, until it is lost. The great lack of existence has been hidden beneath a mountain of commodities, so when death reaches in and plucks one away, the commodity itself is blamed. The lack is no longer understood as a side effect of existence. It must come from somewhere. It must come from loss.
In calling suicide selfish, the crowd reveals its own selfishness.
Life as Small Talk
There is a dearth of understanding in our society. Mental illness, by name alone, is turned deviant, outlandish, strange. It is pushed to the edges of polite society, so those suffering from depression, anxiety, or any other ailment, can find no means of expression through socialising. Politeness has turned our society superficial. This masquerade dominates, creating the need for a surface persona. A self that speaks only of vapid, shallow things, while the self inside is left silent, and alone.
We are living in a society of fear, and suffering in our disconnect.
To suffer for decades, repressed and misunderstood, only to be labelled selfish when life becomes too overbearing, is too cruel a joke. Society presses down on all, but more so for the deviant. Our social norms are as totalitarian as any form of conscious control. They are, in fact, more terrifying, in that they are accepted without thought. They rest in the depths of existence, a force of silence, enforced by an unconscious society.
Life as One’s Own
Everyone’s life is their own. It is their responsibility, and ultimately their choice in how they should, and will live it. The victim blaming of suicide must stop. No one can know the full breadth and depth of another’s suffering, save the sufferer themselves.
Suicide is a last resort. The complete denial, and rejection of existence—some would say the only moment in life, where one is truly free. As with any act, an attribute such as selfishness is projected subjectively. There is no inherent morality to any action, only those we prescribe. Without understanding the motives behind suicide, all that is left is prejudice.
‘I have no worth. I’m a burden on my family. Life is too boring. I can’t connect with anyone. I’m overwhelmed by a job I never wanted. I feel alienated and alone at college. I’m a failure. I have no purpose in life. Nothing I do will change the world. People are horrible. People only see me as entertainment. I am surrounded by superficial friends who don’t actually care about me, and have never known anything but mindless gossip.’
I have thought all these things myself.
When someone is down, it is easy to spew forth platitudes such as ‘things will get better’, ‘cheer up’ or ‘at least you’re still alive’, as if such lines could stir the core to change. It is a consequence of our superficial society, but it is a consequence that must be recognised, and avoided.
Authentic relationships are few and far between, and there is an unconscious effort by society to restrict their formation—to keep up the spectacle of self-image over self-discovery. The deviancy that is mental illness will never leave, long as it is feared rather than felt; long as individuals are seen as sick, rather than society; and as long as deviancy is shunned rather than embraced.