From The Heart: Suicide Is Painless?
A couple of weeks ago the main train line between Liverpool and Manchester was closed at the point where it passes through my home town. Someone mentioned it on a local Facebook selling page. It soon transpired that a man had jumped in front of the train and lost his life. Most of the comments were from people who had either been on the train, knew someone who had or were concerned about people affected by delays as a result of the incident. I scrolled down until I came to the last comment which was along the lines of ‘what a selfish act’ and then went on to express sympathy for the train driver and the passengers.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard this kind of reaction in relation to suicide and train suicides in particular. It makes quite sobering reading over on Twitter when trains are delayed due to a suicide. The sheer venom expressed by angry commuters has to be read to be believed. The words ‘selfish’ and ‘idiot’ are bandied around very lightly, very often in the context of empathy for the train driver. People who travel on lines which are more ‘popular’ for suicides are exasperated by yet another delay to their commute. I can understand it, having an hour or two added to an already long commute is frustrating. However, an hour or two is not a very long time in the grand scheme of things.
Some people do think that a person who commits suicide is selfish and only thinks of themselves. The implication is that a person who takes their own life does so with little regard for family, friends and members of the public.
Controversially I don’t think it’s as straightforward as that. Suicide is a complex decision. I think that often when people commit suicide, one of their considerations is that they will be providing a respite for family members, albeit a permanent one. I don’t think it’s an easy decision to make, we spend most of lives hoping that we stay well and healthy, so that we can live long and be with loved ones for as long as possible. I’ve always believed that people who take their own lives have reached such a deep and dark state of mind that suicide seems to be the only option. Rational thought goes out of the window and sadly with that goes any thought or concern for the family members and bystanders (including train drivers) who will be caught up in the after effects of such an act. Suicide becomes the only solution to a variety of problems in that person’s mind. They may feel they are a burden to family and friends with all their problems, they may be suffering through grief, mental health issues or physical health problems. Financial strain is increasingly a cause of suicide particularly amongst men. Over commitment on credit, changes in personal circumstances and family dynamics can affect people more than some of us realise.
Rather than looking to create pain for others, I think that people who commit suicide are looking for release, be it from anxiety, loneliness, grief or hardship. I’m not saying that I think suicide is the way out and I would hope that someone who feels vulnerable would be able to access the support they need. Sadly though, the people who need the help are often the last ones to get it.
So next time you are inconvenienced on your commute home, remember, no-one ever took their own life because they were happy. There is always a story and if we don’t know what that story is, it’s pretty unfair of us to judge their actions.
I’ve linked up with: