The Guilt of Contemplating Suicide

Oh Facebook…

Today I saw a picture posted by a guy I used to work with. It was a picture of a motorway bridge and a laminated note next to it saying:

Suicide doesn’t take the pain away.
It just passes it to someone else.

🙄 < my own eye roll was much larger than this.

I don’t know the origin of that photo, perhaps it was written by someone who was grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide. I also know the guy that re-posted it, and I’m sure he did it with good intentions. However, it’s a message which isn’t filled with compassion and support.

It’s a message loaded with guilt.

It says ‘I know you want to die, but if you do you’ll make someone else sad, so just keep going. Keep going with your pain, with your depression, with your memories and flashbacks of trauma. Keep living even though your own mind scares you and you don’t feel safe in your own body. Keep going even though you don’t know how you are going to feed yourself and your family. Keep going in your grief. Keep going with the pain that you feel cloaks every waking moment of your day, with the ruminating thoughts that don’t stop, with your diagnosis that you can’t get any tangible help for. Keep going with your guilt, and here is a little more to load on top of that. Keep suffering, but don’t make anyone else sad, ok?

Suicide isn’t a conscious choice. Suicide is an option that feels like the only remaining option when the pain of living becomes greater than the pain of dying.

People who contemplate suicide already feel like a burden. They know that people will be upset but their unwell mind will convince them that the sadness other people feel will be temporary and lesser than the upset, frustration and disappointment that they will endure should they continue to live their lives.

There is absolutely zero compassion within those words. There is no hope that in the future things might get better, there is no clue as to where to look for resources that might help. There is no inkling of the fact that if you are contemplating suicide you are very, very far from being alone.

There is just guilt. So, much, guilt.

People who feel like ending their lives and their suffering don’t need to be told things like this. They need to be reminded that the good days will one day come again. That there are people out there who will listen, and that the words that come out of their mouths don’t even have to make any sense. They need to be held – physically and emotionally. They need support, they need friends to sit with them in the silence when their mind is anything but. They need hand holds in the dark when it’s 4am and the tears won’t stop coming. They need governments that recognise how huge the scale of mental ill-health actually is and who are willing to put funding into supporting those who need it. They need financial support and they need appropriate treatment for their unique condition. They need to be reminded that none of this is their fault.

They need compassion, and understanding and for people to listen and begin to recognise just how complex and traumatic even the very thought of suicide is.

They don’t need guilt.


Where to find help – UK
Where to find help – Europe
Where to find help – USA
Where to find help – Canada
Where to find help – Australia

Photo by Steve Leadbeater on Unsplash

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