The following horrid selfish guilt trip is making the rounds on various social media sites. Yes, it is blatantly selfish. Read it first. Fair warning, it’s badly written in many places and whoever wrote it doesn’t know what a paragraph is for. Afterward, I’ll explain why it’s selfish.
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Wanna kill yourself? Imagine this. You come home from school one day. You’ve had yet another horrible day. You’re just ready to give up. So you go to your room, close the door, and take out that suicide note you’ve written and rewritten over and over and over You take out those razor blades, and cut for the very last time. You grab that bottle of pills and take them all. Laying down, holding the letter to your chest, you close your eyes for the very last time. A few hours later, your little brother knocks on your door to come tell you dinners ready. You don’t answer, so he walks in. All he sees is you laying on your bed, so he thinks you’re asleep. He tells your mom this. Your mom goes to your room to wake you up. She notices something is odd. She grabs the paper in your hand and reads it. Sobbing, she tries to wake you up. She’s screaming your name. Your brother, so confused, runs to go tell Dad that “Mommy is crying and sissy won’t wake up.” Your dad runs to your room. He looks at your mom, crying, holding the letter to her chest, sitting next to your lifeless body. It hits him, what’s going on, and he screams. He screams and throws something at the wall. And then, falling to his knees, he starts to cry. Your mom crawls over to him, and they sit there, holding each other, crying. The next day at school, there’s an announcement. The principal tells everyone about your suicide. It takes a few seconds for it to sink in, and once it does, everyone goes silent. Everyone blames themselves. Your teachers think they were too hard on you. Those mean popular girls, they think of all the things they’ve said to you. That boy that used to tease you and call you names, he can’t help but hate himself for never telling you how beautiful you really are. Your ex boyfriend, the one that you told everything to, that broke up with you.. He can’t handle it. He breaks down and starts crying, and runs out of the school. Your friends? They’re sobbing too, wondering how they could never see that anything was wrong, wishing they could have helped you before it was too late. And your best friend? She’s in shock. She can’t believe it. She knew what you were going through, but she never thought it would get that bad… Bad enough for you to end it. She can’t cry, she can’t feel anything. She stands up, walks out of the classroom, and just sinks to the floor. Shaking, screaming, but no tears coming out. It’s a few days later, at your funeral. The whole town came. Everyone knew you, that girl with the bright smile and bubbly personality. The one that was always there for them, the shoulder to cry on. Lots of people talk about all the good memories they had with you, there were a lot. Everyone’s crying, your little brother still doesn’t know you killed yourself, he’s too young. Your parents just said you died. It hurts him, a lot. You were his big sister, you were supposed to always be there for him. Your best friend, she stays strong through the entire service, but as soon as they start lowering your casket into the ground, she just loses it. She cries and cries and doesn’t stop for days. It’s two years later. Your teachers all quit their job. Those mean girls have eating disorders now. That boy that used to tease you cuts himself. Your ex boyfriend doesn’t know how to love anymore and just sleeps around with girls. Your friends all go into depression. Your best friend? She tried to kill herself. She didn’t succeed like you did, but she tried…your brother? He finally found out the truth about your death. He self harms, he cries at night, he does exactly what you did for years leading up to your suicide. Your parents? Their marriage fell apart. Your dad became a workaholic to distract himself from your death. Your mom got diagnosed with depression and just lays in bed all day. People care. You may not think so, but they do. Your choices don’t just effect you. They effect everyone. Don’t end your life, you have so much to live for. Things can’t get better if you give up. I’m here for absolutely anyone that needs to talk, no matter who you are. Even if we’ve NEVER talked before, I’m here for you.
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First, if you can’t discern that this is a guilt trip, maybe I can’t reach you. For the sake of the person you think you know and whom you believe may be suicidal, I’m still going to try.
The best parts of the mass of words up there start after the hashtag, and maybe the part about, “I will listen if you want to talk”. However, if the above message is what you wish to impart, that person is better off talking to somebody else. The message above is solid “because of you, everybody you know is in hell and their lives went to shit and it is all your fault”. That would make me not kill myself while the cruel selfish guilt trip lasted. Once it was crushed under the weight of my pain, my horror, I would end up wanting to kill myself again. Why? The core problem – my problems, not yours – have still not been dealt with or helped.
If you don’t know that person well enough to know why they are suicidal – correctly and exactly why – then you are not qualified to help them. Offer to listen, avoid pushing guilt. Give them the hotline number and encourage them to call. Tell them you care, but avoid guilt (again, yes, still avoiding guilt). Be prepared to hear them say things you don’t want to hear, or maybe they won’t feel they can, or want to, open up to you about it. Perhaps they don’t trust that you won’t lecture. They may be afraid you’ll call them weak or you’ll say, “Man up!” (Hint: never say “man up”, for any reason, even as a joke. It isn’t funny and it harms people who have quite enough to struggle with already.) It is even possible that this person has tried to open up before and got hurt for it in some way. Maybe they simply aren’t ready yet.
The best thing to do is encourage them (encourage, not guilt) to seek professional help, such as calling the hotline. People are humans and humans bring their own baggage to the scene that the suicidal person does not need – professionals are trained in how to help and in how to leave their baggage at home.
These guilt trips are selfish. They don’t even mention the suicidal person’s core problems. You want them to read about how their father worked himself half to death in grief? What if their father raped them? Do you know that? Sometimes “the mean girls” tell that person to kill themselves and afterward, they aren’t sorry. Life doesn’t work like this, because people aren’t made with a cookie cutter and some people are evil who choose to harm others.
Tell the person (by asking them to read the guilt trip) that their best friend knew what was going on but “they never thought it would get so bad”? That best friend didn’t know what was going on, then. Maybe she knew her friend was depressed, but did she know everything going on inside that person? No. Did the friend care selflessly enough to work to gain the trust to be told, and then they reacted with love, care, empathy? Did the friend realize the suicidal person may not be able to feel loved in that moment, so they listened, cried with, and then offered support for the call to the hotline (after the suicidal person willingly agreed to call)? Why not?
Little brothers, parents, best friends, teachers, boy/girl/etc. friends, bullies, what have you – if they can’t or won’t try to help, to gain trust, to make the person feel safe enough to open up, why are they even in the picture? They won’t help.
Those who are willing to work to gain trust, to impart a feeling of safety, to quantify, sort out, understand, and then alleviate the pain and suffering, or maybe stop the harm that could be happening to, the suicidal person … they are needed to begin real help.
People who won’t do the work to help have no right to guilt the suicidal person and compound their pain, while teaching them to bury it deeper until they can’t bear it anymore. Next time, if they’ve learned it isn’t worth it because they won’t get real help, they may tell no one.
Guilt trips don’t help. Before you share crap like that, stop and think. Your ignorance can harm the person you believe you want to help. Tell them instead that you’re there for them for any reason and then back it up. Accept it if you aren’t the one they feel safe enough with to open up about it. Offer the hotline. Encourage them that counseling can help and professionals won’t judge. As for you – don’t judge them, and don’t guilt them. They need help, real help, that stops their pain. Death feels like the only way out if nobody ever helps them to see another way out.
Medication and therapy can help, if they are needed – let a professional determine that. Even if you are a professional therapist, if you are too close to the person, or perhaps even part of their pain, you may not be capable of helping them.
This is the secret for many, if not most, of us who fight suicidal ideation: we don’t want to die. We want the pain – our pain – to stop. Sometimes our pain is so huge and heavy, we just can’t see yours.
If you are not capable of making our pain stop, at least try to understand. Try to actually help. Research ways to help from the professionals and activists who don’t preach guilt trips. Guilt kills. Empathy, understanding, love, and listening … and hope … these things help.
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© W.R.R. 3/23/2017
For those who want to help and for those who need help.