28 votes

Help me understand why suicide is so taboo?

Even just joking about it people get their panties in a bunch. Like, who's to disapprove of someone doing what THEY want with their OWN life?

We can all co-exist when it comes to other big life decisions like unhealthy eating, smoking, drinking, careers, marriage, kids, etc but god forbid someone mentioning suicide. Because that's fucked up.

I just don't understand the audacity of someone to sit there and tell me "you can't talk like that" when ever I am feeling that way. Maybe the person could offer help? Or maybe instead of assuming I'm being a manipulative asshole take a second to think "hey, this person might actually kill them-self".

I AM NOT SUICIDALE! I was and maybe somedays I am again but I am in the process of recovery and finding things that give life meaning. It just peeves me when somethings so unexpected it just gets shoved in the "we don't talk about that" category or "seek professional help" category. Like bitch 1) I think it's time we talk about it and 2) I've been seeking professional help for 2 years now.

What if a person wants more info on possible ways to kill themselves? So what? Yeah but think about the loved ones! Well lets talk about that too! I think communication is key. Like, me saying I want to die to my parents and them being like "hey that's cool. We love you and support you in your decision to end your own life" would be absolutely fucking amazing. But noooooo.... say anything like that and it's all "go to the mental hospital" or "no I don't want you to die" like what? Are you telling me what to do with my life?

I personally think sanctioned suicide should be legal. I legit think there should be centers you can check yourself into to get put down. There, I said it. I mean, if you believe in heaven why wouldn't you kill yourself and also if you don't believe in heaven why wouldn't you kill yourself? LOL.

I am just merely asking why is it taboo?

/rant

Sorry if this isn't the right place to post. Seriously hoping for actual discussion here vs on reddit you just get a lot of people commenting help line numbers like can we just TALK ABOUT IT?

28 comments

  1. [9]
    Fdashstop
    Link
    Have you maybe considered the people actually do care about you? You seem to have this idea that everyone telling you to talk to someone, or asking you not to talk about it, are just trying to...

    Have you maybe considered the people actually do care about you? You seem to have this idea that everyone telling you to talk to someone, or asking you not to talk about it, are just trying to control your life somehow. You act like no one ever questions unhealthy eating or drinking or anything else for loved ones, but they do.

    What context are you talking about suicide in? Do you randomly insert it into conversations, or do you give it time to breathe so to say?

    Now onto your overall question. The reasons suicide is so discouraged are exactly as you say: selfish. But it's an evolutionary selfishness built upon through generations. If you look at pre-modern societies, one person dying could kill an entire village. Therefore, suicide was discouraged to prevent the entire group from going extinct. That's one reason why.

    Then of course there's the scientific reasoning. First, there's the study which showed that 70% of all people who have attempted suicide will never attempt to kill themselves again. Through this lens, it's then plain to see that the discouragement is a way to prevent people from going through with something they can't go back on. Then there's the idea that people who want to commit suicide are dealing with an untreated mental illness, and therefore their actions are not their own. This is... controversial to say the least. If that were the case, wouldn't everyone with any form of mental illness be some other person, themselves and not at the same time?

    Then, of course, is the more ethical idea of suicide. In most cases, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary pain. I know, when you're in the midst of a suicidal depression, it feels like nothing will ever change and that you're only put on this earth to suffer. I know as well that most people break free of this mindset at some point. Is it then not good to prevent those suffering from ending it then and there?

    It's interesting you'd associate unhealthy eating with suicide, because I think when you look at it through that lens it begins to make sense. Unhealthy eating gives one current relief in exchange for a likely future remorse. Yes, there are people who truly never experience this remorse, but the danger here is that you'll never know if you'll have remorse until it's too late.

    I agree, we should have a better discussion of suicide. Too many people only associate it with cowardice or selfishness, causing real pain for many people in the midst of it.

    40 votes
    1. [4]
      cardboard
      Link Parent
      Thank you for writing such an elegant reply, this was a really great thing for me to read. It can be really hard to see the world for the wonderful place it is, full of caring people when we are...

      Thank you for writing such an elegant reply, this was a really great thing for me to read. It can be really hard to see the world for the wonderful place it is, full of caring people when we are subjected to constant negative feedback from social media and the 24 hour news cycle.

      10 votes
      1. [3]
        Fdashstop
        Link Parent
        Oh wow, you did literally the exact same thing with me. Holy fuck, guess I'll have something nice to think about for the next few weeks. Thank you

        Oh wow, you did literally the exact same thing with me. Holy fuck, guess I'll have something nice to think about for the next few weeks. Thank you

        4 votes
        1. [2]
          cardboard
          Link Parent
          You are most welcome. I'm trying to make this community a positive one. I've seen far too many toxic people and communities take over social media sites.

          You are most welcome. I'm trying to make this community a positive one. I've seen far too many toxic people and communities take over social media sites.

          6 votes
          1. elcuello
            Link Parent
            Keep up the good fight. I'm right there with you.

            Keep up the good fight. I'm right there with you.

            3 votes
    2. [4]
      Kill_Me_Now_World
      Link Parent
      Source? Thank you for a lengthly response.

      First, there's the study which showed that 70% of all people who have attempted suicide will never attempt to kill themselves again.

      Source? Thank you for a lengthly response.

      6 votes
      1. [2]
        apoctr
        Link Parent
        Not a direct source as I don't think the research paper is freely available, but here is a page talking about various related research.

        Not a direct source as I don't think the research paper is freely available, but here is a page talking about various related research.

        9 votes
      2. Fdashstop
        Link Parent
        This study by Harvard is where I got the information.

        This study by Harvard is where I got the information.

        7 votes
  2. [4]
    Kiloku
    Link
    A point I didn't see mentioned is that suicide is often not a choice, in the sense that it comes due to an illness, and wouldn't happen if the person was mentally healthy. It's the final effect of...

    A point I didn't see mentioned is that suicide is often not a choice, in the sense that it comes due to an illness, and wouldn't happen if the person was mentally healthy.

    It's the final effect of a deadly illness, much like organ failure could be the final effect of a cancer.

    There are exceptions where generally healthy minds might choose suicide, but the majority of cases are not this. So when you trivialize suicide, these people are in even bigger danger, as the illnesses that cause suicide are usually prone to external influences.

    23 votes
    1. [3]
      Kill_Me_Now_World
      Link Parent
      Wow I never thought about that. I always just assumed people that don't want to kill themselves are lying to themselves about the reality of life. So If I was mentally healthy I wouldn't want to...

      Wow I never thought about that. I always just assumed people that don't want to kill themselves are lying to themselves about the reality of life. So If I was mentally healthy I wouldn't want to commit suicide? What if I've been diagnosed and will always struggle with being mentally unhealthy i.e. major recurrent depression and borderline personality disorder?

      If you've been mentally unhealthy your entire life suicide might seem normal and sane to a person, no? How to bridge the gap between mentally unhealthy people and mentally healthy people?

      9 votes
      1. kfwyre
        Link Parent
        Great questions. @Kiloku is spot on. Depression is a lie your brain is telling you. I saw the fingerprints of it all over your original post, as the disorder has a way of bringing a cold,...

        Great questions.

        @Kiloku is spot on. Depression is a lie your brain is telling you. I saw the fingerprints of it all over your original post, as the disorder has a way of bringing a cold, heartless clarity to one's world. Certain dark thoughts will come into sharp focus and seem like they are fundamental, important truths.

        But they aren't. It's the lie your brain is telling you. Depression is an abuser. It isolates you. It targets your weaknesses. It controls you. It wears you down over time, hurting you over and over again until your very soul aches. And then, like any textbook abuser, it swoops in to become the "rescuer." It'll tell you that it has only way to end your pain. That you need it and only it to stop your suffering. It'll hand you the tool to irreparably destroy your own consciousness and, with its other hand, make you believe it's doing you a favor.

        People attempt suicide because it's a relief from seemingly insurmountable, unending psychic pain, but you need to know that this pain isn't normal or natural. It is your own brain forsaking its role to keep you and your body safe. Also, this pain is NOT permanent.

        You asked about what life will be like with diagnoses. I can't speak for borderline personality disorder, but I had (still have, I guess?) a diagnosis of major depressive disorder. I took anti-depressants and went to therapy and counseling for years. Can I say that I don't ever get depressed now? No. But I am so much better equipped to handle it. I tell myself exactly what I'm telling you: "my brain is lying to me." I intentionally make lists of successes. I have long term goals in a pinned note in my phone. I make it a point to exercise more and eat better when I'm feeling lower. I snuggle a lot with my dog and my partner.

        One of the most successful exercises my therapist recommended for me was to, before going to sleep each night, think of three "things of beauty" from my day. These could be moments, ideas, people, anything really, and at first I went along with it fully intending to make an example of how stupid I thought the exercise was.

        Fortunately, it helped me break through the lies my brain was telling me (i.e. everything is meaningless/awful/fucked up) and see things that had genuine "worth." At some point my motivation moved from doing the exercise out of spite to doing it because it helped highlight small, seemingly insignificant things worth noting. Sometimes it was a small act of kindness. Sometimes it was the way light reflected off of water. Sometimes it was an attractive person I saw on the bus. It's not that any one of those things is particularly noteworthy but that by intentionally focusing on them and closing my day with them, I was texturing my world in a way that fought off the grays and anhedonia of depression.

        I don't do it daily anymore, but I do return to it as an exercise sometimes, particularly when I'm feeling low. I share this here partially because it helped me, but moreso to highlight the idea that what you're experiencing isn't forever. It can feel like it is. I know it felt that way for me when I attempted suicide. But that's the lie. The one everyone who attempts suicide genuinely believes. With effort, however, it's possible to see past the lie. Each person is different, so what worked for me won't necessarily work for you, but I encourage you to at least try. Talk to people about their experiences. See a counselor or a therapist. Access support groups. Call hotlines. One of the biggest lies of depression is that it tells you that you're all alone. You're not. That's abuser behavior. Break through that to reach out. What you've posted here is a first step.

        It has been over a decade since I attempted to take my life. Do you know how long 10 years is?! How much can change over that time?! I am so far from the same person I was back then. If I had succeeded at ending myself, I would have missed out on so much. And there's still plenty more I have yet to see waiting for me. I would have shut the door on profound richness and quality of life before I even had the chance to experience it. The lie of depression says that none of that exists or, if it does, you'll never have it. Tell the lie to go fuck itself. You and your life are worth living.

        29 votes
      2. Gaywallet
        Link Parent
        I've been in your shoes. I was diagnosed with depression at a very young age, as well as secondary diagnoses of BPD, ODD, or whatever other flavor of the month the psychiatrist felt was...

        What if I've been diagnosed and will always struggle with being mentally unhealthy i.e. major recurrent depression and borderline personality disorder?

        I've been in your shoes. I was diagnosed with depression at a very young age, as well as secondary diagnoses of BPD, ODD, or whatever other flavor of the month the psychiatrist felt was appropriate. In my childhood, I can't remember a day where I didn't feel like that was just "how I was".

        It took me attempting to kill myself a few times and the simple march of time to realize that this was something I was living with and that the solution wasn't death but rather to actively participate in attempting to fix myself.

        As a child (and younger adult) you're often fixated on the now - what is the solution today? How do I get to happy, now? The problem is that you need to be fixated on the future. Not tomorrow, not a week, a month, or even a year from now, but the eventual. Where do I ideally want to be someday.

        When I finally decided to start tackling my problem proactively and partnered with a therapist that's when I started to be able to see the progress I was making. Being proactive meant I worked on my problems not just during therapy, and not just for "homework" to therapy, but all day long. Literally 24/7 re-evaluations and assessments of my interactions with other people, interactions with my thoughts, and interactions with my feelings.

        It's not an easy road, but I'm here to tell you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm much older now (I was first diagnosed about 20 years ago), and I would consider myself "recovered". I am very much not the same person I was as a child, and a psychiatrist today wouldn't diagnose me with depression.

        7 votes
  3. [2]
    spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    Important thing I'll mention up front, for reasons I'll explain in a second - in the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. There's also the Crisis Text Line which you can...

    Important thing I'll mention up front, for reasons I'll explain in a second - in the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. There's also the Crisis Text Line which you can text message. If you don't feel suicidal but would still like to talk to someone, the Find a Therapist search from Psychology Today is an excellent way to find a local mental health professional.

    One aspect of the taboo around suicide is that "suicide contagion" is a well-documented phenomenon:

    https://www.suicideinfo.ca/resource/suicidecontagion/

    https://www.sprc.org/sites/default/files/migrate/library/OlsonSuicideContagionSuicideClusters2013.pdf

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/media-spotlight/201208/when-suicides-come-in-clusters

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/08/health/suicide-bourdain-spade.html

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/12/the-silicon-valley-suicides/413140/

    Thus, just by talking about suicide, and especially media coverage of it, can increase the number of suicides. So it's important to talk about it carefully, and in the right context. There's a very good reason you've probably never read a story in your local newspaper about "John Doe committed suicide Thursday by jumping off such-and-such bridge". In addition to the usual effects of suicide contagion, that also provides a specific idea that jumping off that particular bridge could be fatal.

    In general, I believe in body autonomy, and believe that extends to voluntary euthanasia. If you're facing a terminal illness and want to end your life on your own terms, I believe individuals should be trusted with that choice.

    Do I think that should extend to suicide? No, not really, in the vast majority of cases. The reason is that for euthanasia with a terminal illness, you're working closely with a doctor who has given you the diagnosis and can hopefully (depending on local laws) advise or assist you. In most cases of suicide that don't include a terminal illness, I believe the urge to commit suicide is a symptom of an underlying mental health condition. Death is a very ineffective way of treating mental health conditions.

    15 votes
    1. Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      And, here in Australia, the best phone number to call is Lifeline on 13 11 14. (Because not all people reading this thread have access to American services.)

      in the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

      And, here in Australia, the best phone number to call is Lifeline on 13 11 14. (Because not all people reading this thread have access to American services.)

      9 votes
  4. Staross
    Link
    Rational discussion of suicide isn't taboo, there's plenty of material about it. For example students at Yale could take a whole course about it, or in Switzerland we have quite popular suicide...

    Rational discussion of suicide isn't taboo, there's plenty of material about it. For example students at Yale could take a whole course about it, or in Switzerland we have quite popular suicide services.

    What's taboo is enabling someone that is suicidal and everything but rational, because that's akin to failure to assist a person in danger.

    14 votes
  5. DonQuixote
    Link
    Death, at least the serious contemplation of it is, dreadfully frightening to many people. This is why some get creeped out being around old people, and why religions promising eternal life are...

    Death, at least the serious contemplation of it is, dreadfully frightening to many people. This is why some get creeped out being around old people, and why religions promising eternal life are popular. The finality of death, once you have people you care about actually leaving your life, can be depressing and scary.

    So of course people are going to react when it comes up as in 'I think I'll kill myself." or as a threat. Real life death is no joke, which is why we go out of our way to laugh it off, ignore it, avoid talking about it.

    9 votes
  6. [3]
    b2311e
    Link
    What I don't understand is why, when someone is hurting either physically or emotionally, the societal expectation is strongly against suicide (and assisted suicide isn't really a thing in most...

    What I don't understand is why, when someone is hurting either physically or emotionally, the societal expectation is strongly against suicide (and assisted suicide isn't really a thing in most places)

    Meanwhile, if your dog or cat was seriously unwell and unlikely to get better, I think just about everyone would have it put down, 'for the best'

    Although a human being is significantly different to an animal, we are also different in that we have the ability to make informed decisions about ourselves. All things considered therefore, why can't we choose to end our own life, in the event that is the best option?

    6 votes
    1. papasquat
      Link Parent
      Most people who commit suicide don't do it because of terminal illnesses or incurable chronic physical pain. They mostly due it due to depression, which is a treatable, and very often temporary...

      Most people who commit suicide don't do it because of terminal illnesses or incurable chronic physical pain. They mostly due it due to depression, which is a treatable, and very often temporary condition.

      I wouldn't say society is strongly against voluntary euthanasia in the case of terminal illness. It's illegal in the US, but it still has strong support here, and it is legal in many other industrialized countries.

      6 votes
    2. unknown user
      Link Parent
      One can totally do that. But something like assisted suicide amounts to killing someone, and it's quite obvious why people will be reluctant to doing it. Apart from that, both physical and...

      why can't we choose to end our own life, in the event that is the best option?

      One can totally do that. But something like assisted suicide amounts to killing someone, and it's quite obvious why people will be reluctant to doing it. Apart from that, both physical and emotional pain and illnesses are mostly recoverable, so it's obvious why the society expects one to not kill themselves.

      4 votes
  7. Catt
    Link
    My two-cents is that it feels taboo because ending a life, whether your own or another's, is just so final, and thinking about it, talking about it, is really uncomfortable for most. In regards to...

    My two-cents is that it feels taboo because ending a life, whether your own or another's, is just so final, and thinking about it, talking about it, is really uncomfortable for most. In regards to "seek professional help" category", I believe it's a fear of giving "bad" advice. People don't want to think they may be responsible for someone else death, directly or indirectly.

    7 votes
  8. [2]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. Kill_Me_Now_World
      Link Parent
      Very interesting. What is the context of that Robert Frost quote I like that?

      Very interesting. What is the context of that Robert Frost quote I like that?

      3 votes
  9. RapidEyeMovement
    Link
    Suicide, is the removal of Choice/Chances/Change from individual by the individual.

    why is it taboo?

    Suicide, is the removal of Choice/Chances/Change from individual by the individual.

    3 votes
  10. AllMight
    Link
    There's a lot of great answers I'm just going to add thoughts I haven't seen in other posts. When your dead your life can't improve. When you are a life there is a chance it will improve....

    There's a lot of great answers I'm just going to add thoughts I haven't seen in other posts.

    1. When your dead your life can't improve. When you are a life there is a chance it will improve. Therefore not being dead you have better odds of improving your situation.

    2. In many religions suicide means you can't get to heaven and/or you can't attain enlightenment etc. If you don't believe in heaven or hell, you should want to stay alive. I think most people consider nothingness worse than something even if something sucks. If you do believe in heaven and/or hell, you should want to stay alive so that you can reach heaven.

    3. People want other people to be alive, even if they don't know that person. I have many co-workers I don't anything about and don't want to know anything about. But If I asked I would say I prefer them to be alive rather than dead, once again there is a lot more potential for positivity when a person is alive.

    2 votes
  11. [2]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      That video was such a fantastic and incredibly heartfelt one. I highly recommend it. There was also a tildes topic about it, too: https://tildes.net/~life/6xo/suicide_and_mental_health_philosophy_tube

      That video was such a fantastic and incredibly heartfelt one. I highly recommend it. There was also a tildes topic about it, too:
      https://tildes.net/~life/6xo/suicide_and_mental_health_philosophy_tube

      2 votes
  12. DanBC
    Link
    Suicide is a common cause of death. (Most common cause of death in men under 49, depending how you count). When you talk about suicide you are almost certainly talking to people who have...

    Suicide is a common cause of death. (Most common cause of death in men under 49, depending how you count).

    When you talk about suicide you are almost certainly talking to people who have experienced the loss of a family member or a friend.

    With that context, do you think you might want to change the way you talk about suicide? To remember that other people are suffering feelings of guilt or shame?

    2 votes
  13. Amarok
    Link
    Suicide is a moral sin because 'god said so' according to some major religions including Christianity. Some people see suicide prevention as saving that person from condemning themselves to...

    Suicide is a moral sin because 'god said so' according to some major religions including Christianity. Some people see suicide prevention as saving that person from condemning themselves to burning in hell forever. It's crazy how strong this view is in America. There are more sane people in those religions who would advocate for allowing it on the basis of ending suffering, but they aren't as loud about it.

    The taboo nature of suicide is just a byproduct of how unsettling most find death. It was codified into many major religions in negative ways, and that keeps it alive. It amplifies those views because they are taught to a lot of children at a young age, before they learn to think critically.

    1 vote
  14. mftrhu
    Link
    We actually can't. People are criticized to hell and back for any of these life decisions. "You should lose weight"/"you should gain weight" is a common mantra, and remember the old...

    We can all co-exist when it comes to other big life decisions like unhealthy eating, smoking, drinking, careers, marriage, kids, etc but god forbid someone mentioning suicide. Because that's fucked up.

    We actually can't.

    People are criticized to hell and back for any of these life decisions. "You should lose weight"/"you should gain weight" is a common mantra, and remember the old /r/fatpeoplehate? The levels people can get to by telling themselves "I'm doing it for their own good, being fat is unhealthy" are ridiculous.

    "Why aren't you doing medicine, like your father?" "Why waste your time with that?" "When are you going to find yourself a bf/gf?" " When are you going to get married?" "When are you going to have kids?" "But I want grandkids!" - the pressure comes from both one's relatives, who ideally should be supportive, and of society as a whole.

    I just don't understand the audacity of someone to sit there and tell me "you can't talk like that" when ever I am feeling that way. Maybe the person could offer help?

    That's their way of "offering help". The vast majority of people doesn't know anything about health or mental health - this should be familiar enough to anyone who has ever dealt with depression, "just don't think about it!" or "don't be such a downer, I was also depressed but it passed" are all too common - and talking about death or pain makes them uncomfortable.

    1 vote