Suicide is not an act of selfishness

definition of suicide

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 remember Charles walking into my office and telling me that a friend’s dad had died by suicide. He said he thought it was selfish.

Then he asked what I thought.

Did he think it was selfish? Or was testing me to see 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. Maybe he wanted to tell me or for me to ask.

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 anymore.

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 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 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.

Published by

AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

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

  1. Suicide is not selfish. People who think this are the type of people who make things feel worse for people who suffer, like me. I just wanted me pain to stop. Anne your book will help so many🙏

      1. You are such a Beautiful person Anne. Inside and out. My 11 year old grandaughter told me on Friday one of her dads girlfriends friends took their life and the girlfriend and Olivia’s dad both have personality disorders and are on medication. I had a chat to Olivia and I hope I was right to. I cannot tell my daughter ( Olivia’s num) cause she would be mad at me. But I could not just ignore Olivia when she clearly needed to tell someone. Just thought I’d share as she is only 11 and starts secondary school today. Love Carol x

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

        1. It is still not easy like I said. I do my best to stay positive and not stress but sometimes people push and are cruel, even strangers. I have mult medical issues and am disabled. My balance isn’t always good and so I look like I’m drunk and people assume the worst. It always seems like it happens when I’m weak too which makes it worse. I have those 2 people I guess feel responsible to their own points and I have to depend on them and they don’t let me forget it, they also threaten me and trying to get disability at my age when I tried working pt jobs and actually landed my dream job and thought maybe since I love it so much I can do this. I loved it! I was even going to model for their catalogs, which I never thought I’d do again but I just couldn’t keep up even trying to work from home.

          I still have a hard time knowing I was always there for my family and they’d abandon me when I needed them. Literally leaving me homeless about this time of year, I got out of the mental hospital right before Christmas. I had no one and nothing and realised of course – they used ne my whole life. I cooked, cleaned, even had to make my mom’s bed and clean her room for her, have dinner ready, take care of my brother – they left me for dead and had the nerve to all call me selfish all these nasty messages on my phone that I had to see right after getting out of the hospital!!! What kind of person does that to someone who’s so desperate, helpless, hopeless and weak? They never loved me. My dad tried to get them to commit me I know just so he could tell his family how I’m mental and not look bad for abandoning me as well. They only ever used me and if they helped it was because they were getting something out of it too. It was never from the heart. I’d taken them in before my brother many many times even late/early am (2-4am) and twice he’d stopped talking to me no apologies from any of them ever just show up after not talking and I took him in with open arms. He has a lot of my furniture in his 3 story house. They don’t have room for me but they let his wife’s friends live w them and pay for them when they are simply lazy. I never thought through all the nonsense and interfering in my life, literally taking my choices from me, destroying opportunities I had… yet I still took him in after and I never thought despite anything he would leave me on the streets at Christmas. No invites for holidays when I always made sure they were never alone…. Facing the fact I think I knew deep down anyway, none of them ever loved me. And turned the rest of my family against me.

          I can’t get out as much as I used to which doesn’t help with depression. And I’ve lost the years since, 3 friends to suicide not ever knowing what they were going through. Thankfully I had others who were feeling the same hopelessness in their own ways and we got each other through. Unfortunately for me, at the point I tried I didn’t have anyone able to take me in and my best friend I never got to meet, finally was happy and doing well and passed away – he was very obese and was trying but his heart gave out and that was painful as well. People won’t talk about it or open up because they are exactly afraid of being judged like this, and I know my friend who passed and got through his depression had a loving family that genuinely cared. His brother, sister and mother were all there for him, but it wasn’t enough. And I did reach out literally everywhere for help and there still is none. As far as suicide hotlines I’m sure they really do mean well but my situation has gotten worse not better – for YEARS NOW. So I don’t wanna hear it’s going to be ok everything will get better. You do have to find your own better, your hope, and when it’s not enough, talk to real people who aren’t going to keep reading you a script over and over. Being on both sides, it has been truly heartbreaking to lose close friends that I could’ve talked to like I did before I lost mine, but again, communities like this, I can’t rem how I found you but I’m so thankful I did. It really hits a nerve when people call it selfish. They have no empathy. They must not have ever struggled. And I know the ones who did to me never did, they had family there to help, they had good jobs and didn’t have to worry about finances. But I never would have judged my dear lost ones.

          It seems that most people don’t open up, they put a smile on and act like it’s all ok. And the ones who threaten somehow get all this attn when they would never do it anyway – there’s always exceptions but in my experience anyway. That my loved ones, my real family, not come to me about it breaks my heart to think about. I try to just remember the good times together and maybe it helped them get through another day, as they did for me though I as well never opened up either and don’t blame them just feel sad. I wish I had more to hold onto. But I hold onto every good thing as much as I can. I fall and I know with no way out that it will pass and I’ll have a good day at some point, let myself get excited over small things and know that I do have family and people who care and really love me and it’s also because I finally let myself reach out. And support groups and online family – it’s not the same as having someone right there, but you can make true friends who will be there however they can. People who understand your pain. Places like this. Sorry to go on so much, there is so much emotion involved. Maybe some can’t handle it who knows, but anyone who is hurtful is just awful and should be ashamed, and I always hope they learn and see what just even their words can do to those in pain, they have no idea. And that includes those who talk behind backs and pretend to care when inside they are judging. You hear their whispers sometimes and it is shameful.

          I know that if I tried those times, genuinely tried and almost got my follow through, and I am still here, we are all here for a reason, a purpose. We all contribute – unfortunately some bad, but those people are the real sad ones. I hurt for Collin and wish I could be there, as well as others, especially being bullied and pushed around to their breaking points, if I can make it through my circumstances and my dark pits of despair, I know anyone can because I am actually very weak too. I can’t always muster the strength to look at the bright side, but when I can I bask in it as long as I can. I try to push the bad out, find things that make me happy, that I enjoy and if I’m too sick I watch movies and depending on how I feel, as it seems comedies can be dramadies and make you hurt cause of seeing basic things in life – like true families for me – can be painful so I’ll watch thrillers or action, horror (to a point) at those times because they take my focus away from what I long for and hurt over. I’m not sure if that helps anyone, but sometimes yes I need to laugh and watch those movies when I’m sure I can handle any tearjearking moments. Or fantasy films even and just let myself get lost in my own fantasy world when I’m alone.
          My heart goes out and Anne – you are much too kind! I’m surviving this yes, and yes, I hope that sharing helps even one person, even if Collin doesn’t read this, I know it’s a lot! We all need the right people in our lives and we lean on each other, if I help someone then my focus is on them and really they are helping me as much as I hope I help them!

          I think I forgot to add that my Google # is 909-906-3255, I don’t answer calls idk, but if anyone needs to talk and wants to text I’ll hope to be available.

          I also know now that when I feel despair it only lasts the night if I can just get through and I have no choice but to because if it doesn’t work then I’ll be stuck in a mental hospital that doesn’t help and my freedoms I do have taken as I said so I am too afraid, yet in those moments I think one of these days I just won’t be able to go on. I pray for death at times. I am certainly not perfect. But it helps to talk or text someone, go to a support group page, or find some stupid movie to distract you and let yourself admit your desire for death, cry, if there’s a place you can scream even, let it out in a safe way, but don’t stay there, don’t focus there. Climb back up as high as you can and as many times as you have to. That’s all I can do, and I’ve made it this far. And I KNOW there has to be something for all of us out there. I’m not any more special as anyone else, we are each unique and why our pain is also different at times. I care more because I hurt too. Because I need others not to give up either, even if in a bad moment you do temporarily, you pull through, however you can. I’ll stop I hope I was not too redundant. I just can’t say enough how it helps to know we can get through together and we can have places to release our pain and connect with others who truly get it. Together we are strong.

          1. That is so beautiful Angela. So emotionally naked which is apropos for this site. I’m so glad you told it all and got it off your chest. And I’m sorry your family has been neglectful of you when you gave more and deserved more. I love this comment of yours, “You do have to find your own better, your hope, and when it’s not enough, talk to real people who aren’t going to keep reading you a script over and over.” Connection is the antidote to suicide and it pains me that you can’t get out to get it or your family won’t help with that. Comment any time. And I hope it helped to write it all out. It will be seen by thousands.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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. 💗

  10. 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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