Half the Earth Stolen

Words to do with suicide
...or what happens after that person you love killed themselves. (Obvious trigger warning for suicide is obvious.)

So on tumblr there used to be this post (I can't find it now) that went something like "If, when I committed suicide I could see how it would affect other people and choose whether or not to go through with it, I'd be dead already".

If you could see how your suicide affected other people, it would spook you out of trying for a long time. Tumblr isn't always great with mental health help.

I have attempted suicide more times than I care to share and witnessed the suicide attempts of people close to me, so I've been on both sides of the discussion and I think I have a fair idea of what I'm talking about.

Pills with insults written on them
A lot of suicidal people think that if we killed ourselves, our loved ones would be better off. It happens a lot when you're depressed: your self-negativity clouds everything and your low mood isolates you, so you don't feel loved and it can be hard to see and accept the love of others. And you feel like the inconvenience of having you around outweighs whatever affection people may feel for you. "Positivity" that consists of tired platitudes and people telling you to just pull yourself together because you're being annoying doesn't help either.

When you feel suicidal, the belief that everyone would be better off without you makes it that much easier to end everything. But what actually happens to those left behind?

Initially you might get shock and disbelief: how could they be gone? How can someone be present and alive and just there one day and then the next day they're gone, never to come back, and then maybe a week later you're sitting there at the funeral service?

It's not something easy to understand. It feels like half the earth has been stolen from under your feet. Only half, because somehow you're still standing and you don't know why.

And then you get the realisation that they are dead. Forever. That nothing can bring them back, that even if you tried to join them in your grief they'd still stay stubbornly un-alive and unmoving beneath the ground. And it leaves a big hole in your life, as clich├ęd as that is to say, because that person you love will never come back. You will never be able to smile with them, or hug them, or comfort them through another hard time, ever again - and if you get to reach out and touch them, it's only to touch a cold, unresponsive corpse. Perhaps it is easier for people who believe in an afterlife if you think that you will one day be reunited with your loved ones. But I believe that after death there is absolutely nothing, just decomposing in the ground and waiting for the eventual heat death of the universe, which isn't particularly comforting.

Often you get very angry - and yes, you get angry at the person who has died, which is an unfair burden on someone who was in enough pain to take their own life, but grief is a shitty burden of its own and clogs up your mind so that thinking logically is nearly impossible. Some of you might be angry at the person for being so selfish, but it's more common to be angry with them for not letting you know - not a phone call, not an email, not a scrap of emotion let past their lips that might have helped prepare you, so you have to get that phone call from the hospital or a relative or a friend or even go hunting up the information yourself. Sometimes you get angry seeing another person's grief, seeing someone cry so hard they can hardly breathe. It's also very common to be angry at yourself: if only you'd spotted the warning signs, if only you'd been more proactive, if only you'd stayed another couple of days and not let them out of your sight the person you loved wouldn't be dead. And it's your fault.

Anger runs into guilt. Even professionals find it difficult to predict who's going to go through with a suicide and who isn't, but that won't stop your guilt. You obsessively run over each tiny little detail of the days leading up to the suicide, looking for the signs that you see as blazing and clear in hindsight but that just looked like so much white noise to you. You beat yourself up about it, that you should have been there to help and it was your fault and if you hadn't been so shit maybe they'd still be alive. And 6 months later the realisation hits you again, that they're gone forever, that they're never coming back, and you start shaking in a corner of the bed.

This is what happens after you kill yourself. Not happiness. Not relief. Just shock, grief, anger and guilt. So if your reason for suicide is that you think people will be better off without you, I hope talking about my experiences has changed your mind.

But I cannot stop you from committing suicide just by saying "look, people will be worse off if you die!" (although that can be a factor in why people choose to stay alive).

In fact, I cannot stop you at all. Only you can do that.

What I can say is that if you try and make the decision to end your life whilst actively suicidal, your decision will very likely be biased. You probably won't be taking account of all the things you should be taking account of. Sometimes it is better to wait and see where things lead, to wait until you have experienced things more before you decide that you're tired of life, to wait and see whether medication or talking treatments (which help you to identify thought patterns) do any good. Death will come anyway, so it's not like there's any big rush.