A middle-aged man dreaming of the day when he can stop begging for scraps and write for a living.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It Gets Better

I occasionally interact with people online who confess that they're deeply depressed and entertain thoughts of suicide. My heart goes out to such people, and I try my best to help them. I was diagnosed with depression once (you sit around unemployed for three years and not be depressed!) but it was never serious enough that I needed to seek help for suicide prevention. Simply put I'm far too egotistic to contemplate prematurely ending my life. I'm just too important for that. I'm sure this surprises no one.

All joking aside there are some very good resources for people who are contemplating suicide. On the web there's It Gets Better where there are countless video testimonials from others who have struggled with depression and suicide. If you don't have the web and you're in the US there's 800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline who come highly recommended for talking people through their problems and exploring alternatives.

Sometimes people ask me what reason I have to continue living as an atheist since I have no hope of divine intervention or salvation. The easy answer is because this is the only life I have; why would I want to end it prematurely? I have no reason to believe there's any hope of coming back from death. Youtube contributors TheraminTrees and QualiaSoup collaborated to put together an uplifting video exploring this topic called Why Live?

In a recent discussion about depression and suicide someone replied to my comment to invoke a common phrase: "They say that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem." I replied that I was even going to use that, but decided against it at the last minute. It occurs to me that one reason people contemplate suicide is because they don't see their problems as temporary. They literally can't see an end to it, or any way that it will end unless they make it end permanently. The problem, as I pointed out, is that once you take that step you can't go back and change it later. There's no fixing it if it's a mistake. That's how permanent it is.

What we both agreed on is that suicide really isn't a viable solution. The problem is I recognize not everyone contemplating it is necessarily going to agree with me so I prefer not to set myself up where I might have to defend such a claim. Subjective statements are inherently subjective.

I can't claim to sympathize with people suffering from deep depression and suicidal tendencies because I've never experienced those feelings. That doesn't mean I can't understand their position and empathize with them. Not having experienced it doesn't mean I don't care.

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