On the Hardness of Life

Sometimes, the hardest things to think about are the things which truly matter.

So, to get right into it, I now know a grand sum of four people who have attempted to take their own life. One was a friend in high school. Twice. In her own words, it was a cry for help, help that she eventually, thankfully, received. She’s doing better now. I see her around college, she shouts my name (all my friends do this, actually) and we chat for a while. Another is a current friend in college. She has family problems, she’s alcoholic and she gets high every now and then. She’s 17. She has scars on her arms from cutting, a problem I’m literally forcing her to get help for, and she told me a few weeks ago that she’s tried to hang herself before, in her bedroom. Another time, she downed a bottle of pills. She said that sometimes it felt like her life was falling through her hands. It’s odd, it’s incredibly sad and somehow it is life that across the world people who have not yet seen it no longer want to.

I’m not suicidal myself. In our college’s debating society, the motion was put forward recently that suicide was an inherently selfish act. In my Psychology class, we’ve recently discussed both the biological and environmental causes of depression. Only a few days ago, Mindy McCready, a fairly popular American country singer, committed suicide after a long bout of depression in her life. So where am I going with this?

What do we do to help people who are suicidal or depressed? Should we do anything?

In a number of religions, suicide is a major sin against God. In societies across the world, people who have attempted it or families with a suicide amongst them are stigmatised. I’m not sure why. I’m not entirely sure if it’s right. Is it part of human nature to shun those who remind us of the ever-present presence of death?

I’m almost sure that a few of my readers will know someone who has or has tried to commit suicide. As one of my teachers said: ‘I’m 31 and it’s a sad fact that at my age, you probably know someone who has died that way.’ How have you reacted to it, or tried to help that person?

Personally, I don’t care for the supposed right or wrong of suicide. I care, though, about losing the people I’ve grown close to. It’s one of those areas in my life which I often feel I have no control over, because sometimes no amount of positivity can bring people back from the edge they’ve reached. Right, wrong; that’s a very sad truth.


I almost feel I should apologise for such a heavy post after such a long absence. Unfortunately, though, while work has consumed much of my time, worry is a greater consumer. As I said above, sometimes we have to think about the hard things.


13 thoughts on “On the Hardness of Life

  1. Thomas

    Great post, I’ve missed reading your writing! I think that it’s saddening that people you know have to go through things that make them feel suicidal, but I’m glad that you’re stepping up and getting your friend to get help. I could care less about the religious implications of suicide – no matter what no one should take his or her own life because of bullying, abusive family members, alcohol problems, or anything that makes them feel like living isn’t worth it anymore (perhaps physician-assisted suicide is excluded from this, but I won’t go into that now.) A gargantuan amount of those who commit suicide are depressed, and it’s horrifying that events could occur in one’s life that make he or she unwilling to live.

    Anyway, thought-provoking post as always, I hope you write more frequently if you have the time!

    1. dlaiden Post author

      Yes, it is very saddening. No-one should feel that those things make it worth taking their own life, but many people see no other option. I think they lose the ability to look forward to the future and instead imagine that their life situation will always be that way. I didn’t think about physician-assisted suicide, but I suppose that would be different, what with it usually being the culmination of a long, painful illness.

      Yes, I’m definitely hoping to. I’ve been absent for too long, and I don’t want to make it a habit.

  2. The Waiting

    I’m sorry you’re having to deal with these issues right now. You are a really good friend, though, to stay by your friend’s side while they’re struggling with suicidal thoughts. Xoxo

    1. dlaiden Post author

      Aw, thanks. 🙂 Personally it annoys me to see older friends of hers trying to ignore the issue, but I suppose that sometimes (well, often) it’s difficult to understand. xo

  3. NicoLite Великий

    It is easy to condemn suicide, but it’s easy to condemn everything. It isn’t easy to justify suicide, though. People who aren’t depressed can’t understand depressed people, though clinical depression is not the only reason for suicide, I imagine. My second degree cousin commited suicide a short while ago; I had never met him, but my father got the suicide letter from his cousin, the father of the young man who had hung himself. He described his world as a world of pain, though he was not physically ill; living as pure torture. Sometimes, when I have to put up with some very frustrating people, I think I get a glimpse of what he meant, and it is not the selfishness of the person who commits suicide, but everybody else’s selfishness that drives them away from life, at least in his case.

    At any rate, because every person’s reasons are their own, no generalisations can be made, except for it being plain sad that people feel that they can’t be happy in this life; but that says more about this world than the people who choose to leave it.

    1. dlaiden Post author

      It certainly is easy to condemn everything, and I think the gap between the depressed and the non-depressed would only serve to deepen the feeling of alienation, and also pain such as your cousin felt. Though yes, I agree, there are other factors involved. I think I understand about the selfishness. I’ve never been suicidal but I have been depressed, and I know how depression isolates you. Seeing how selfish people are reaffirms the reality that one is an individual trapped within their own consciousness, and it makes it even more difficult to share problems with another self-oriented individual, if that makes sense.

  4. Pingback: ‘Reclaiming’ Words « Anglophonism

  5. denmother

    I have a daughter in grade 8 who is watching a friend go through depression and cutting. It is a very hard life for some and always worth talking about.

    1. dlaiden Post author

      It’s good that you’re close enough that she feels able to share it with you. I’m not sure why, but I haven’t told my mother about any of this. I’m not the one directly experiencing it, but still it seems difficult to find the words to start the conversation.

  6. Read Stuff With Me!

    I agree. I also do not know whether suicide is right or wrong. We just cannot be judgemental about this because it is a very sensitive issue. Depression tends to break people and prompts them to hurt themselves. Even I might have done that slightly to somehow replace the emotional pain with the physical one. I also agree that when people do this, it’s more of a cry for help; they are in ‘need’ of somebody who would understand and tell them how much they matter.

  7. Deri

    My best friend held a pistol to her head just before Christmas 2010. The brain she splattered had earned a double first class degree at Cambridge, established her as a world authority on several esoteric aspects of computing, got her appointed as a professor, wrote definitive books and papers, designed a dream home for her retirement in Florida. She was never a ‘poor old me’ type, she became paraplegic from polio as a youngster and spent her youth in various healthcare institutions. Despite her tiny size and her wheelchair she was fun to be with, she helped me and many other people when we faced difficulties. If she wanted something done, it happened – often because she learned to do it herself. She drove a Firebird Transam with a nitro kit and hand controls, played chess at grand-master level. On almost every level, awesome.
    But she got emphysema and was told she was unlikely to improve. In retrospect, nobody was surprised that she simply decided not to end her days in yet another institution.
    When I think of how alone she was at the end – her partner out shopping, her researcher walking the dog, me half a world away; I feel terribly sad. But I also feel betrayed, a bit lost, and guilty.
    She ended her suffering but left behind family and friends to agonize over her. I have yet to decide if she was right. My mind says maybe, my heart says no, no, no!

    1. dlaiden Post author

      For what it’s worth, I’m sorry you lost such an amazing friend. I have yet to experience such a thing, and I do not imagine it is easy to think about. It is stories like these which make people call selfish those who commit suicide. At the same time, though, perhaps we are the selfish ones for wanting to keep our friends in a world which causes them so much pain. Dilemmas like these are why I believe that suicide is neither good or bad, simply something that happens. Like leaves falling from a tree. This doesn’t curtail the personal and emotional impact on the family or friends of the deceased, but sometimes, it makes it somewhat easier to think about.


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