Suicide is not an act of selfishness


Thinking it’s an act of selfishness is a lack of understanding of what suicide is.

Even before Charles died by suicide, I did not subscribe to the “selfish” notion. I even remember him walking into my office and telling me that a friend’s dad had died by suicide and Charles said he thought it was selfish.

Then he asked what I thought.

Now I’m not sure whether he actually thought it was selfish or was testing me. Seeing what I thought. I don’t know that I will ever know for sure. My gut tells me he wanted to know whether I thought suicide meant someone was selfish because he was suffering from thoughts of hurting himself.

I told him that it wasn’t an act of selfishness but an act of despair and desperation. And we had a long conversation about it.

I remember it so distinctly, I even remember thinking his hair was looking shaggy but those curls were so beautiful. Then he showed me a picture of his friend’s dad standing in the garage next to a car he and his son had been working on. It looked as if it had been printed out on the computer. I don’t know where he got it.

I could tell he was struggling with his friend’s loss and couldn’t imagine it. It didn’t occur to me to ask him if he had considered suicide or felt like dying. But I did worry about the fact that he was taking the burden of this death so personally. But then that kind of empathy is typical of those who suffer depression. He had not been diagnosed at the time.

Judging from his other writings that I never saw until after he died, he had already been suffering from suicidal thoughts.

“Isolated with loneliness as my only companion,
my only goal is to plummet to death off the Grand Canyon.
Can’t sleep at night, just wait for the bright,
But I’m blinded by the light and I’m blind with rage,
trying to start a new page but I feel like an animal in a cage.”

Over and over in his lyrics, he expresses self hatred, pain from thoughts that torture him, despair and darkness.

His lack of sleep, a problem that cropped up when he was a toddler, that got worse as he got older. Clearly his mind was turning against him.

“I just can’t stop, I’m losing my mind,
my brain is on fast forward and rewind at the exact same time,
It’s tearing me up, it’s just becoming too hard to give a fuck,
I don’t feel like a person any more.

I’m losing my touch with reality,
and constantly living in a fallacy.
My mind in goooone, I sit alone all day looooong,
I need help, I need your help,
Somebody please reach out to me,
I need love, I need love,
It’s my only drug
It’s the only thing that matters,
Oh I hope it matters…. Please let it matter.”

I so wish I had known the signs. I wish I had known to ask, “Are you thinking about suicide?” But I didn’t.

Imagine day after day being tortured with thoughts like those above. I now see pages and pages of them. Imagine the courage it takes to make the choice to live every day and the amount of energy that that uses up.

Ninety percent of all who die by suicide suffer from a mental illness. And that intense emotional pain does subside, often in as little as 20 minutes.

Here’s what I’ve learned from my son’s writings, clinical studies and suicide attempt survivors who follow this blog.

They’ll refer to it as a “brain attack,” an irrational moment of unrelenting emotional pain. Most who die by suicide do not want to kill themselves, they want to end intense and relentless pain. And in that moment of pain, many sufferers feel like the world would be better off without them. Like they are a burden.

Suicide is the result of an “attack” on a major organ, the brain, and desperate, irrational thinking.

Not selfishness.

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Did Charles show warning signs for teen suicide?

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am the mother of two boys and the owner of emotionally naked, a site that reached a quarter million people in its first 18 months. I am a writer and professional public speaker on the topics of suicide, addiction, mental illness, and grief and my book, Diary of a Broken Mind, will be published in the fall. I lost my youngest son, Charles, 20, to suicide June 5, 2015. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website

20 thoughts on “Suicide is not an act of selfishness”

  1. Pay attention to the ones you love. Be vigilant. The signs of impending suicide are subtle sometimes and easy to miss. Change in attitude, becoming reclusive, not wanting to talk, for example. If you see these things, you can ask if the person is okay. And no matter what they say, you can answer is there anything you’d like to talk about. And tell them you’re willing to listen without judgment. And then prove that you are by not giving advice.

  2. Hello im glad i found this because Lately i have been thinking about and will do it i feel really deeply Empty and whats been missing these past 34 years of my life is LOVE. LOVE. Something i never had or felt. i hold alot in and do not know who to trust.

    1. I had to start by loving myself first. And support groups help me a lot in working through the grief of losing my son to suicide. I will always miss my son and wish he had not died by suicide but I can’t change that. I know his was an act of desperation and I so wish I had known the signs or how he felt.

      Thank you for helping me feel I make a difference and I hope you find answers. I think commenting here is a brave first step and I feel very positive about you and your future.

  3. their have been times i’ve tried to commit suicide sometimes almost successful but others have stopped me there is no point in going on anymore and sometimes i see death better than life

    1. I feel compassion for your extreme suffering that has led you to suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. I hope we can help somehow to overcome your agony and turmoil. Please don’t give up Cody.

  4. My son Joshua ended his life after many years of drug addiction ending with him shooting up heroin. As I also struggle with depression I remember a conversation he and I had. We agreed that “we don’t actually WANT to die, we just don’t want to live like THIS anymore “. “THIS” can be depression, illness , any addiction and others too numerous to mention. I understand ‘brain pain’ it’s intense and at times unrelenting ….. and no, suicide is not an act of selfishness but of intense emotional pain where you are so weary that you can bear it no longer. And I understand that …… thank you for your empathy. Diane Mccormick

  5. hi guys no matter how much u talk against suicide i think that.the only way out of my misery feel so unwanted and as a mtter of fact the more u talk about it the much more comfortable am feeling in doing it so bye if i happen not to reply ua comment:-

    1. I truly feel your pain. Though Idk your own circumstances, or the particular agony you feel, I know what lies at the heart of it, hopelessness. Sheer and utter hopelessness. That nothing will change, that others will be better off without you, feeling like a burden or of no consequence or importance, that no one wants, meeds or cares/loves you… in the end, it is losing all hope that anything will ever get better. A feeling I feel all too often and have throughout my life. Possibly the reason I’m alwaus so quick to be there for others in need, even a doormat to be run over, dirt wiped, scraped on, at least serving some purpose..

      I don’t have to know your own personal reasoms, but I do know mine. I know that for some reason, my last attempt would have been successful if not for just 2 people who I still don’t feel love me. And I think they “rescued” me for their own selfish reasons, though as above, turned against me as being the selfish one. But 3 years later, though I still have more moments than not, I know there is some purpose to my life. Whatever it may be, and maybe at this particular point it IS truly selfish of me to think and wish I wasn’t here.

      I can’t say, except I do despair amd lose hope, which I have found above all else, is what you need to find to hold onto life itself. Find something to hope for. Anything. Trust me, I’d rather die free than live in a cage and I know if I try again, that’s how I’ll live. In a cage. Trapped, caught like a wild animal unable to escape or live the way I want, if I try again, I will lose the freedom I have. Not that anyone is truly completely free… We live in a world where it can’t be. But it’s better than being a caged animal for the rest of your life, treated like some sub-human idiot. You have got to find something to hold onto. You have to find some escape, most call a hobby or passion to embrace. Trust me when I say, fuck those who hirt hurt you. My family has abandoned me. My nieces and nephews may never get to know me or my love for them, but I have found my own new family, not blood that binds but love. Find love. Persue it and know that there are people to lean on and who will need you to lean on too, and together, you’ll have something to hold onto.

      It might be persons you can touch, or internet friends, far away from your grasp – some of my best friends, my family, I’ve never met, but they keep me going, remind me they need me as much as I need them. I get your desire to leave life behind, again, I still struggle, it’s not easy! But when things get tough, I have support groups online cause I know the few people close in distance have their own lives and can’t always be there for me. So I surround myself with true family all over the world that not only hold me up, when I need it the most, I can post, but I not only feel wanted but needed when others need the same hope. Don’t lose hope dear one. Please. I’m here and I can use the same uplifting too! So if you want to ever talk just respond please cause idk if they will erase my post – I’ll put my contact info in another one. Take care. Keep hope. Hold it and don’t let go. Even if all we can do is share our sorrows… We have each other and we have also to hold on that one day will turn brighter. Much love.

      1. Angela- I could never erase this comment. Ever. You have dragged yourself out of the dark and found yourself. You are a warrior and I am inspired that you would read someone else’s post and turn your pain into helping others. Thank you.

  6. I do not think every one who ends up committing suicide wants to live. I do agree that some, not all but some, feel the world would be better off without them. I truly lament your loss as all death saddens me, especially self-inflicted death. I think that is mainly due to feeling that they deserved to live more than I. I have struggled with suicidal thoughts, but I know I would never do it. I am too much of a coward for it. I have and probably will for a long time cut, but that is more to dull the pain than anything. I have friends. Not many, but they are there. I have family. They tell me I have it good compared to many but that never makes me feel any better. I feel like my 24 years have been a waste. Anyways, I do not want to poison this blog with negativity anymore than I already have so I will go. I truly am sorry for your loss but commend your strength in coping with it. I am touched to see you reaching out to help people.

    1. Thank you so much for your insight Wraith. It is much appreciated. I think there was one study that said most did not want to die but there are obviously exceptions as you pointed out. I am sorry you suffer this way. I’m just curious if any of your friends or family were helpful if you talked to them. I think those with life experience such as yourself are the most helpful in helping us understand suicidal thoughts.

  7. Hello, I’m sorry to hear your loss. Those are good lyrics he wrote. I’m 41 and tried a few times at suicide when I was younger. I was tormented also in my mind. One time I spent 28 hours on life support after taking a bunch of tranquilizers.
    A lot has changed, I gave my life to God a while back and went through a lot of changes and had an amazing recovery. Sometimes I can still get down. Sometimes things get really strange and I can’t seem to figure it out. Even though my life is a lot better recently I’ve been feeling down about things. I often wonder what people’s thoughts are on suicide and came across this page. When I read all the comments I noticed they were on October 21st, which is my birthday so I decided to write something. At times I could care less if I died, I want to try my best though in life and believe this isn’t the end.

    1. Hi NDM-
      Most who suffer from suicidal thoughts do not want to die or want to think like they do. It’s not weak or shameful. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. Like my son. I believe he wanted to live. Those who suffer from suicidal thoughts, often have gifts that the rest of us don’t have. Thank you for your comment.

  8. You are so brave, Anne Moss. May the Lord comfort you in your grief and work through you as you diligently chip away the stigma that surrounds suicide. You are in my prayers. 💗

  9. Charles’ lyrics are so beautiful and powerful. And insightful. I can’t imagine the pain you feel as his momma reading them, but your sharing them with us gives us the opportunity to be more aware of the needs around us. And you are so right–we need to ask the scary question when we see/feel those red flags: “have you thought about suicide as an option for you?” Even working in hospice all those years I stumbled as I had to ask that. It’s amazing how many patients would acknowledge suicidal thoughts and welcomed an open discussion about the despair he/she felt about having a terminal illness or being a burden to the family. I never regretted asking. I may have been nervous each time but ultimately it was a good thing. Thank you for continuing to educate and encourage us even as it means you must revisit your pain each day. ❤️

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