Content warning for discussions of death, frank discussions of suicide including methods, mental illness.
Death is not noble.
In so many pieces of writing on mental illness, the diagnosis, the experience, the horror of it all - it's all romanticised as hell. And that's bullshit. Dangerous, dangerous bullshit.
I remember reading these kinds of posts when I was a clinically depressed teenager who kept being told that I was an attention seeking little shit. Because I was attention seeking, because I felt like I was dying. I felt like my mind was killing me from the inside. And so I looked at how to make that inside-dying seem like it was worth something, like it meant something, like it could mean something other than the ending of a life prematurely. I tried to make myself feel better because I could have followed a line of tortured genius artists who lived and died by depression.
But it didn't. And I am still here, several dangerous suicide attempts later, I am here.
And in the twelve or so years I have suffered and lived with mental health conditions, the one thing I have learnt most of all is that there is no glory in death. There is nothing cool about being so unwell you want to hurt yourself. There is nothing edgy about drinking yourself to oblivion because you don't know how else to get yourself to sleep. There is nothing epic or romantic or amazing or incredible or noble about death, and there never will be.
I don't know what I believe about what happens when we die. I know that I think about those I've known who have have died a lot, but I don't know what that means.
I know a lot of young people who have died by suicide. I do not use their lives and their deaths as a bullshit positive means to 'keep myself going', because that implies that there was something good about their deaths. And there wasn't. There is nothing good about parents being left and siblings being left and a life being ended fifty years before it should have been. Every death was in some way preventable and every death was a life on earth ended far too short.
Death is not noble and neither is depression. Those of us who suffer with chronic depression and suicidal ideation and tendencies will tell you that at the worst moments, there is nothing we would not do to rid ourselves of what we feel. I would trade my pain for anyone else's, because depression makes you a selfish little shit. And if you're reading this and you've never experienced depression, I am glad. I am glad because it is the worst thing I have so far gone through in my (admittedly short) twenty-three years, and unfortunately for many of us it is chronic. People do not see when you haven't showered in ten days, when getting changed makes you cry, when doors and phones and bills go unanswered, and when you're such a horrible irritable little dick that people can barely stand to be around you. Because depression isn't cool and it isn't romantic because it is fucking shit.
Death is not noble and me dying at the age of 13 would have done absolutely fuck all. It would have broken my parents, my wonderful caring parents, and it would have destroyed my three sisters. It would have scarred my best friends and it would have (metaphorically) killed my grandparents. I was a scared, ill, lonely child, who thought suicide was the only way to end the pain.
Whether or not there is an after life with a higher religious power isn't important. We can all believe and have faith in whatever we want to believe and have faith in. What matters is that death is not romantic and it is not cool and it is not noble. There is nothing romantic about being found covered in your own vomit, or a train driver having to live with the fact that they hit someone.
Death is so often the premature ending of a life that should have gotten grounded at some point for staying out too late, that should have gained their college qualifications, that should have grown as an adult and developed political beliefs and went on demos and yelled at Tories and had their faith in the world broken and torn down and rebuilt by the people around them. That should have fallen in love, which is the best and worst thing a person can have happen to them. That should have gone in and out of periods of being a dick, because we all do. And that then should have wised up.
I am currently going through a rough patch. I have tried to kid myself that if I died, I would be doing it for a higher cause. Right now, that the DWP would have another person to add to their list of people they've denied benefits to who have then committed suicide. That the mental health services in my area are stretched to breaking point and the lack of care results in patient suicide. That trying to live a life in London on barely any money eats away at your head, and your heart, until it's too much to live with and you can't do it anymore. But none of that would have mattered. Because even if all of those things were true, my poor sister would still have to identify my body, and my parents would have to arrange for it to be flown home. People would have to organise a funeral. My room in London would have to be packed up, my bank account closed, the posters on my wall taken down. And none of that is romantic. None of it is cool. None of it is heroic. And no matter how much incredible poetry or music I could have written, or lives I could have touched - it wouldn't have made it any less terrible.
I came across this PostSecret postcard years ago, when I was a depressed teenager. And unsurprisingly, it always stuck with me. I don't know what the answer is to chronic suicidal ideation. I don't know why some of us suffer with this. But we do, and the least we can do is make sure that we keep talking the romance out of it. There is no romance in suicide and there is no beauty in death.