Suicidality and Other People’s Perspective

woman with hands pressed up against a rainy window

For some of us, suicidal thinking and perhaps even a history of attempts are part of the mental illness experience. What I wanted to discuss in this post is how much of that suicidality is focused inward and how much relates to our place in our social world. That’s rather vague, and this post’s title is even vaguer, but to get more specific with it, consider how you might answer these questions on a typical occasion when you’re feeling suicidal:

  1. If someone you cared about said that the world is definitely better with you in it and they want you to stay alive, and you were magically able to know that they sincerely meant it, would that change anything for you?
  2. Do you think others would be traumatized by your death?
  3. Do you think the important people in your life would be better off without you?

When I’ve been suicidal before due to my depressive illness, it’s tended to be very self-oriented. When I’ve wanted to die, it was because I felt like my life was unlivable; what other people might think about it really didn’t factor into the equation. My answers to the above questions would be:

  1. It would make no difference because that would have no bearing on the livability of my life.
  2. Yes, absolutely. In particular, I’d be concerned about the effect it would have on my brother.
  3. No, mostly because of the answer to question #2.

I’ve never been impulsive with my suicidality, and part of that is that there’s reasonably strong extrinsic motivation to continue living that can carry me through any urges that might pop up. I know it would hurt my family if I were to off myself, and I can hold onto that, at least for a while, after I’ve lost all intrinsic motivation to stay alive. When I’ve made suicide attempts in the past, it was because the unlivability factor had come to greatly outweigh the desire to avoid hurting others.

Perhaps that’s why calling a crisis line never feels like a useful exercise for me personally. Talking and being listened to by someone who’s trying to be empathetic doesn’t do anything to change livability. Talking to someone who says they would like me to stay alive changes nothing, because their desire for me to be alive is irrelevant to me in that context.

I don’t recall ever having the feeling that other people would be better off without me, although it’s quite possible that I have felt that way before and just don’t remember it. I think that, for me, it’s more along the lines of “they’ll get over it,” and that getting over it would easier for them than continuing to live would be for me. Other people being better/worse off is more of an afterthought, though; it’s not a motivating factor for the suicidality.

So, that’s me. If you’ve ever experienced suicidality before, how would you answer those three questions, and why?

Straight talk on suicide - graphics of phoenix and semicolon

The Straight Talk on Suicide page has crisis and safety planning resources, along with info on suicide-related topics from the perspective of someone who’s been there.

74 thoughts on “Suicidality and Other People’s Perspective”

  1. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in that dark space. My answers at that time would have been as follows:
    If someone you cared about said that the world is definitely better with you in it and they want you to stay alive, and you were magically able to know that they sincerely meant it, would that change anything for you?
    No. In my mind at the time I was not worth it and they would quickly move on. I don’t think I would have believed them. My living was the problem and everyone would be better off without me – including me. I really felt I was so useless and worthless that I was a burden. I think I thought they’d be relieved I was gone. No matter what they said.

    Do you think others would be traumatized by your death?
    Yes and no. I was afraid my baby would be traumatised if they knew I had really only had such dark thoughts after they were born. That they would blame themselves for my death. I think it might have been traumatic for whoever found my body.

    Do you think the important people in your life would be better off without you?
    Mostly yes. At that point everybody would’ve been better off without me. My baby needed a better mother, my spouse needed a better partner.

    I’ve had a few brief thoughts about it since and they were mostly about my pain rather than improving the life of others by my absence.

    1. The finding my body thing is something I worry about, and I can get quite morbidly specific with it, like thinking I want at least a certain amount of time to pass so I’m not saveable, but not so much time that my body has gotten really gross…

  2. So true. My wanting to end my life has got nothing to do with other people and what they say. It’s really sad when people try to make it about them.

      1. 💌 I honestly also have reached the point where I believe everyone is better off without me but a dim alarm _did_ start sounding and another Self that’s not “me” alerted my fiancé and then my therapist.

        I later learned that I didn’t even tell the clinic staff that I needed an emergency session and that my text sounded absolutely fine.

  3. I have felt suicidal as you know. The first time experiencing it when it all got too much, months after .y mum’s attempt at suicide, in which part of me died that day when I found her.
    Ever since that day her mental health wasn’t good and monrhs after she was sectioned and still is with dementia being the latrst thing to add to it.

    As for me with when I feel suicidal. Question 1 doesn’t make my feelings change.

    As for question 2, I have not attempted because I don’t want the few friends I have possibly be traumatized by it, by whatever degree, as I was with my mum’s attempt at suicide.
    Also, the way I was going to do it the first time I felt it would have traumatized a stranger who would have got caught in my attempt. Whoever that stranger would have been at that times I have wanted to do what I wanted to do.

    Question 3. Its not something I think about at the times I have wanted to, or as I write this. So I have no answer for that one.

      1. Yes. When I have seen my mum as far as I am concerned its her paranioa Schizophrenia side I have mainly seen and just a bit of dementia. But as this care home has only seen her since having to go there since dementia diagnosis, all they see is dementia.

        The damage is just a repeat for me from childhood when it comes to my mental health. So whatever it is, it can cause a trigger.
        Although mum took an overdose in my teens, I wasn’t aware of it until the last time she did it. Either that, or I had known and blocked it. But to see mum out on the floor from attempted suicide, no I have not witnessed it until that last time.

        My first time being suicidal was so strong that I was actually scared. Especially when I would have dissacosiated many times and a few of them have involved me crossing the road not remembering I done it, with exception of one where I came round and I was in the middle of the road while traffic coming both ways.

          1. It was. When I came round on the one where I was in the middle of the road just standing there, it was because I thought I was standing on an small patch of pavement. Until I realised I wasn’t. I then panicked a little. But only a little because I felt I was still in a little of a daze. I then walked back to where I should have been at the start and pressed button to wait for green man to tell me it was safe to cross the road.

            Suicidal thoughts I have felt since last November when they started again, I have had to have strong actions not to do it. Again, reminding myself why and that’s because of trauma I would cause to others.

  4. What a strong post. A perspective that not many can ever look at or think of when it comes to a topic like this. I lost my best friend last summer to suicide, I always wondered why. The only question stuck in my head. Reading those questions i wondered if he would of answered it just like you did. It is acting impulsive on suicidal ideation. It almost makes me in-denial about that because I do blame myself to think he couldn’t live in this life anymore. Now I feel it hard to live in this life to live without him. Thank you for this post, thank you for pushing through another day ❤️

  5. So important to think about!
    The last time I was suicidal (fairly recently) my husband told me he needed me, and that our dogs need me too. It changed everything for me. Now that I think of it, the previous time was interrupted by the fact that I didn’t know who would take care of my dog if I wasn’t here.
    I guess my dogs have saved my life more than once 🐾 💕

  6. God bless everybody here, I have been suicidal only when psychotic. Fortunately, shock therapy and medication has made me feel better on more than one occasion. Hope you are feeling ok, Ashley.

      1. Have you heard the news about the Russian draft? Imagine if they had conscription in Australia! I might get called on to serve because I have 7 months of cadet experience. Even though I have russian heritage, I do not support the invasion of Ukraine. But I feel responsible as I am a Greek Orthodox Christian. I apologize for my country’s mistakes.

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