If you or a loved one is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433).
This is purely an opinion piece. You are allowed to disagree with me. However, if you do and wish to leave a comment, please be respectful.
One of the common arguments against suicide is that it is a selfish act. If this idea prevents you from committing suicide then that’s good for you. But constantly telling a suicidal person that this act would be selfish doesn’t always have a positive effect on them.
According to the definition, to be selfish means to be excessively concerned with oneself without regard for others. One may be able to link suicide to selfishness in terms of the lack of regard for others. When someone dies they may be physically abandoning someone. But is that also the case if the person committing suicide is a complete outcast and has absolutely no one who is concerned? Is this suicide no longer selfish? The other component of selfishness says that someone is overly concerned with their own welfare or advantage. A person committing suicide may be getting out of some life annoyances. Maybe they don’t have to deal with grief, pay an enormous bill, suffer in prison, or deal with troublesome people. But even so, what else are they getting out of their suicide? Absolutely nothing. They may have forfeited those annoyances, but they won’t even be able to feel the relief (this point may differ according to different religious or afterlife beliefs). If they aren’t getting anything in return I find it hard to characterize the action as being selfish. Furthermore, although the comeback has been used often, should it not also be selfish for a family member or friend to demand that a suicidal person live because of their own feelings? I believe it is best that this suicidal person does live, however, to demand they live just based off of your own feelings would still be selfish. You should encourage them to live not only because you would miss them but also because they have much to offer the world and the world has much to offer them.
An outsider may view a suicide as selfish because this person has abandoned their loved-ones. However, this person may have had selfless intent. Some individuals commit suicide because of their own costly medical or other bills or because they think they are a burden to some extent. I don’t believe anyone should kill themselves even for these reasons, but it is often the case. But is the suicide selfish when the motivation was not?
If an individual has already committed suicide, calling that person selfish will probably not help the grieving family and friends. The loved ones are suffering a tremendous loss and are probably overwhelmed with many confusing or conflicting emotions. Some may even be accusing the victim of being selfish in an effort to understand the dreadful event. But many others do not have these thoughts and would not wish anyone to have ill-thoughts about their loved one.
Overall there is no point in asking if a suicide was selfish or not. If anyone is struggling with thoughts of suicide it is better to let them talk to you or refer them to a therapist than to tell them the action would be selfish and leave it at that. If anyone is suffering because of this loss then it would be better to focus attention onto them rather than trying to understand the victim’s motivation. For your own healing it’s better to try to put aside anger and reflect upon the good moments in the victim’s life or your life together than to try and determine whether the act was selfish or not.