Suicide Is Rational

Recently, someone I greatly admire and probably even love, said to me that when people are suicidal their brain chemistry is basically off, which prevents them from realizing that things will get better. I didn’t want to disappoint her, so I didn’t say that I respectfully disagree. I’ve always thought suicide makes a lot of sense—maybe the most sense. I acknowledge brain chemistry is involved, and am obviously no expert on biology or medicine. But I also believe suicide isn’t necessarily a product of chemical imbalance. I think someone can rationally, and so completely understandably, conclude that suicide is the right option. 

Life is a terrible mess. It’s unbearably lonely. It feels like a cruel joke, an insurmountable task, all too often. Nobody prepares you for all the times you’ll want to claw your way out of your skin, only to be met with the intolerable reality that you’re trapped. Or for the sad truths that descend on you in moments of quiet and still manage to pull the rug out from under you, even though you should know better by now. You never quite figure out how to bounce back. The things that torment you elude your mastery, and you can’t forgive your profound shortcomings.

Sometimes, there are moments of peace. Like when you see fireflies for the first time and remember there is magic in the world. Or when someone with infinitely more reasons to despair chooses to forgive and see grace. Or when you hear a joke so funny you think it might just save your life. But it doesn’t. It usually falls short.

Of course, then, suicide is appealing. To act as though people who are suicidal just haven’t experienced enough to know the good life has to offer, or just haven’t tried hard enough, or just haven’t found the cure, is presumptuous. Some of the most brilliant, beautiful people have committed suicide. Probably because they were too smart to bear living under the delusion of contentedness. 

If you’re not miserable, I personally think you’re in denial. But I’m not inside your head. It isn’t my place to convince you how you feel, or how you should feel. Nor do I have any particular interest in doing so. The same goes for suicidal people.

I also think our societal aversion to suicide is fundamentally selfish. When someone kills themselves, how much of our pain is really for them, and how much is for our loss? We’re sad, but for ourselves—that we don’t get to see them, talk to them, breathe them in anymore. Which, too, is understandable. But they can’t stick around just to make us laugh. To act as if we’re disappointed on their behalves seems pretentious.

To me, the fact that we’re taught suicide is bad is a reflection of our inability to cope with being human. For some reason, we’ve decided that everyone must want to live. Maybe we’re scared if we admit that it’s ok to not want to be here, we’ll be accepting the utter meaninglessness of life. But the truth is, none of us decided to be here. So isn’t it kind of twisted that we insist on forcing people to live? Why are we (or some of us, at least) ok with assisted suicide when it comes to terminal physical illness, but not terminal mental illness, or terminal suffering of any kind?

I can’t say with certainty that if I walked past someone about to jump off a bridge, I wouldn’t intervene. But I also vehemently believe that everyone has the right to choose what to do, or not do, with their life. If we don’t have autonomy, what do we have? There are few things more dehumanizing than dictating how someone gets to live, or not live.

Maybe you think I’m wrong or crazy or sad or pitiful. Maybe I am. I’ll never know bliss and I might never know grace. But I’m not fearless enough to commit suicide, anyways. I think it may be the bravest thing anyone can do. The only braver thing might be living. But if living is unbearable, what courage is there in suffering?

11 thoughts on “Suicide Is Rational

  1. paininzeeback says:

    Having failed several times at the whole suicide thing, I am probably not the best judge of this subject myself.

    I do firmly believe suice should be a personal choice rather than a choice controlled by law or religion. I can honestly say that I have experienced much depression in my life and often found it hard to find a reason to live. The flip side of that is having been a part of some very special times I would not have had if I had been successful in my attempts. My attempts were not a cry for help. I simply failed.

    The one time I disagree with it being a personal choice is in the case of children. Their brains are not developed enough to fully understand that their tragic pre-teen crush on a pop star really isn’t the end of the world. There are ways to deal with bullies and I wouldn’t want my 10 year old to decide life isn’t worth living because of a bully that can be handled.

    I think that we get out of life what we put into in, more or less. It doesn’t mean we won’t get hurt just because we might put a lot into it. Life is what it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • onlybadchi says:

      Thank you for such a thoughtful comment! I think you raise an excellent point re: kids, and agree with you there for sure. And you’re right–maybe it’s worth getting hurt because of the good moments we do get to experience 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. balletandboxing says:

    Reblogged this on Discovering ratchet and commented:
    A beautiful defense of suicide by one of my favorite bloggers and virtual friends.

    Couldn’t have said it better. Suicide is a tragedy, because it implies that the individual’s suffering was a load to heavy to carry. Since we all have loads to carry, our response to such suffering should be one of sorrow and empathy. Maybe consider what could be done differently to prevent future suicides… not because the SUICIDE itself should be prevented, but the long-term suicide, the living hell, that makes suicide the only plausible solution for peace.

    Let us take care of each other while we are alive, no? Rather than remind each other that “others have it worse” let us work together to alleviate each other’s pain? Pain is the great human equalizer. Perhaps we should practice a bit more love instead of condescending judgment.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just Joan says:

    A thought-provoking post, Bad Chi. Seems like in a free country, we ought to have the right to determine our own fate. But if we advocate for that, half the population would off themselves in high school due to bullying, break-ups, not fitting in, etc. 99% of the time, things do get better if you wait it out… You reach a certain age (50?) and grow into yourself and stop caring so much what everybody else thinks. For hopeless conditions of any kind, the decision should be up to the ill person. Draw up a living will while you are still clear-headed and competent–once something happens to you, it’s too late. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • onlybadchi says:

      Well said! And yes, I think the fact that things might get better shouldn’t be overlooked. I just think sometimes, for some people, they may not get better. But I’m inclined to agree with you especially when it comes to youth. Thanks for your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Quinn says:

    “Some of the most brilliant, beautiful people have committed suicide. Probably because they were too smart to bear living under the delusion of contentedness. If you’re not miserable, I personally think you’re in denial.”

    I am not miserable. I suffer from depression sometimes and then I live in a suspended state of grim, teeth-gritting despair, but I am not miserable. When I read this it sounds as if you believe that anyone who is not miserable is not smart. That anybody content is stupid, and doesn’t understand the hard corners and jagged edges of life.

    I do understand them. I don’t think I am unaware of them, but I love life. Those moments you speak of – the fireflies, the new buds on a tree, the dew drops on a spiderweb, the tiny shells you pick up on the beach, the view of the lough from a mountain, a pine cone as large as your foot, ripe blackberries among thorns – those moments are life. Sometimes it makes me ache. The world is so beautiful. It has such ugliness and such hardship and being a human is complicated and difficult but it’s so beautiful, and there are so many things to experience and see and live and hold than we are even aware of. We have to leave it all behind one day. That part is not optional. Why would I leave it all behind before I am ready? Even in the depths of my deepest despair I know that it is temporary and there is so much that I still don’t know. Obviously I understand that others feel differently but I don’t think that makes me stupid or delusional. I think it makes me determined to experience what I can in the time that I have.

    I think sometimes suicide can seem like the only option. I don’t think it ever really is the only option but I think sometimes it is the easiest and the hardest simultaneously. Mostly I just think it is desperately, desperately sad.


    • onlybadchi says:

      I hear what you’re saying, and I think really what I meant is that I don’t think people who deny the deep misery that life entails, or whatever you want to call it–the “hard corners and jagged edges” of life–are being honest. I also think it’s hard to be content when you acknowledge those realities, but I respect what you’re saying–that you can be and are content even while recognizing and understanding them. And I guess my main point ultimately is that whether or not I think someone is in denial, I still think they should get to live how they want to. I’m not trying to criticize them, just voice my perspective. But I appreciate you reading and commenting so thoughtfully–thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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