There are at least 2 popular myths about suicide.
1) It’s the cowards way out.
Actually you have to be brave or desperate to kill yourself. In classical times, rightly or wrongly, it was considered a noble death. Perhaps Socrates was an idiot, dying to prove a point. But then so too were Jesus, St Sebastian and indeed most of our highly esteemed martyrs. Life is a form of bondage, it is not unnatural or wrong to dream of release.
2) Think of all the people you will hurt.
We don’t, or rather, we shouldn’t live our lives just to please others. If so gay people would stay in the closet, vegetarians would eat meat, we’d all be Muslim/Christian/Atheist or whatever. Moreover you can’t please all the people all the time. When I was being trolled for writing Raw Food, some people wanted me dead, should I have obliged them?
Of course, your death would cause upset to others, but it is preferable to stay alive for your own reasons.
At the age of 21 I attempted suicide. I took a cocktail of pills (paracetamol & tranquilizes) and went for a walk in the marshes fully expecting to die. To my surprise, apart from feeling drowsy, nothing happened. I was quite relieved it failed as my reasons for dying were shallow and foolish. I was, basically, a spoilt brat. I put little effort into my goals but expected blind chance to deliver the good stuff.
We have no intrinsic right to always be happy. But neither should we constantly suffer. For me personally, a lot of my misery is caused by illusory thinking, i.e. wanting everything including the impossible. I may feel dissatisfied, but I am not being cheated – it is a reality check. And anyway, if these dreams could all come true, I would have even more reasons to be unhappy.
On your death bed (unless you are a very sad case) you are less likely to be reminiscing about the money in the bank, winning that Oscar or Nobel Prize, but instead about the joy of effortlessly breathing, of feeling healthy and alive. You might also remember love.
A few years ago I had a kind of breakdown and was wary that I was becoming a danger to myself. Once on a cliff edge I had the strongest impulse to jump. And once came close to stepping out into the traffic. But the point is, I didn’t want to die. Yet the internal war going on in my mind meant that I could not be sure that I wouldn’t randomly kill myself on impulse. So I went for professional, medical help. If I felt bad enough already, this experience pushed me into despair. Suddenly my life was no longer my own. I had to fight not to be sectioned and had to start lying about how I felt. I was constantly monitored, the nurse would randomly turn up to check what I was doing, eating etc. I was also told what to think. And the 2 myths about suicide cited above were constantly drilled into my head. By thinking otherwise I was treated like a naughty child and as a danger to myself. I repeated many times that I had gone for help because I wanted to stay alive. But my perspective was ignored and instead I was squeezed into their predefined categories. It soon became clear to me that my life is not my own, I am the property of the state.
I believe there is an irrationality about suicide. When someone succeeds, like say Robin Williams, he is recast as an eternal misery. I personally remember his beautiful smile and the joy in his humour. Sure he was sad at times and that may have tipped the scale. But dare I suggest, he probably enjoyed more pleasure than most people do.
Maybe it is feared that if it stopped being a taboo subject everyone would want to kill themselves. The reasons for wanting to die may not or may not be irrational, but they should be addressed in a rational and respectful way.
I can think of many reasons for living. Admittedly, some of them are a little sad. For example, I need to know what will happen on Doctor Who and must hear Lana’s next album. I am also interested in all developments and discoveries. I feel sorry for my Dad, not so much for dying, as for missing out on so much subsequent history.
Life is a miracle. If lived simply and in the present moment, it is pure bliss. But it is also all too brief. You will, eventually have an eternity of death, so enjoy life while you can.