Ok, this post is going to be ‘triggery’ for some folks, as it tackles the topic of suicide. Please, if that’s something you can’t read, choose another post. Imp Memes are here, here, here and here. Monkey Issues is another funny one here


Matt Walsh is a blogger that I’ve read and commented on before. I agree with some of his ideas, not so much others. When I disagree, I tend to walk away, rather than get involved, because the chances of changing anyone’s mind tends to be slim to none, and if I want to feel like I’m banging my head against the wall, I have kids for that. I’ll go teach math or something, and at least have some chance of success.

But…oh, but…

Matt’s post, about Robin Williams…that was a problem for me.

Matt states that suicide is a choice.

Oh, Matt, Matt, Matt…we have a problem, here.

I can’t argue that suicide isn’t a choice, per say. Not in the dictionary definition, that it is an action taken by a person, versus another action.


I don’t believe that suicide is a choice any more than an animal in a trap has a ‘choice’ of chewing their own foot off to escape.

A person who is that depressed, that is in so much pain, that suicide seems like not only a viable choice but the only one left…that’s not a rational person, making a choice. It’s a desperate escape maneuver. It’s the action of a person so far beyond rational thought, behaviour, choice that to call it a ‘choice’ is insulting, its narrow-minded, it’s simplistic in a way that’s insulting. It’s insulting to those who have grappled with such incredibly dark depression, who have committed suicide, and to their loved ones left behind.

Nobody in their right mind decides that ending their life is the best option. Nobody in their right mind chooses death over their loved ones.

Key words there: in their right mind.

Those who attempt/commit suicide truly believe their loved ones are better off without them. Or, they’re in such incredible pain that ending the pain is the only thing that they’re able to consider. To be in such pain, that even loved ones don’t factor in to your thinking…There’s no words to describe that level of pain. When ending the pain, by any means, becomes all that you are able to focus on and gives you hope…an end to the pain is your only hope…that’s not a place of ‘making choices’. It’s a place of being reduced to a feral animal, who only wants, needs, to escape the trap and pain they’re in.

That’s not a place of making choices, Matt.

Do you really, in your heart of hearts believe that anyone would *choose* to take their own life if they saw any other option? If they had any hope at all of the pain being able to be dealt with? If there was something, anything, that they could conceive of that would make death a secondary option?

The law recognizes that people who are not of rational mind are not responsible for their actions. Calling it ‘a choice’ ignores that. ‘Choice’ implies that they are deliberately choosing suicide over another option. A person not in their right minds aren’t able to SEE another option. It’s not a ‘choice’ in that situation.

I don’t hate you, I don’t wish you ill, Matt. I do think that whatever history you may have with depression, suicide, mental illness has given you a very narrow lens with which you’re viewing this through, and has left you with a harsh, condemning perspective.

Suicide is not a choice. Not in the way you see it. Its the last action of a desperate, suffering, pain wracked, trapped, hopeless person. Its not a ‘choice’ when it’s the *only* thing you can see ending the pain.

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Choice? — 20 Comments

  1. I completely agree with you. When they get to that state, they are, for all intents and purposes, delusional. The definition of delusional: A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especially as a symptom of mental illness. ( They believe there’s no way out. They often believe it’s actually better for their family or the opposite–that nobody will actually care and miss them. The “choice” they make is the result of delusional thinking trying to cope with pain, so is not a true choice at all.

      • One thing that concerns me with his focus on this “choice” is that someone who is that far gone in their hopelessness will think, “Okay, I can choose to do this. I do have a choice between living and dying and I’m going to choose death.” There are those who go even deeper in their darkness than he shares–he said that in his darkest moments, he can still see joy; there are plenty of suicidal people who simply don’t. It no longer exists and will never reappear. While he has apparently struggled with depression and perhaps suicidal thinking, he doesn’t appear to have hit the level that far too many do where they don’t believe love and joy are even real, that there is no hope at all, ever, no matter what everybody else says.

        • Yes, I totally agree. He seems to believe that every person that has ever dealt w/suicidal ideation is the same. There are those who truly don’t see a choice, at all. All they know is pain, and need it to end. My other concern is that it sends the message that you can simply ‘choose’not to commit suicide, and that those who don’t ‘choose’ are putting death as being more important than their families, as though that’s an actual thought process.

  2. I hope you read Matt Walsh’s response to the first Robin Williams post. He made a great point. If it is not a choice, when you see a person who is on the ledge, you can’t reach out and grab him, are you just going to give up and go back down, because he has no choice in the matter? Or are you going to try and convince him otherwise, assuming that he can choose differently?

    • I actually just commented on that post, Kenny. Here’s the thing, as I see it. *I* can choose to stop someone from injuring themselves. If someone is threatening self harm, I can call 911. And that person, AGAINST THEIR WILL, will be admitted for a psych hold. If the law, and the medical establishment can recognize that the person isn’t capable of rational thought, then why is there discussion about ‘choice’? A person who is mentally unfit is deemed not responsible for their actions. How is it a choice then? Choice implies that they realize there’s another option.

      I truly believe that a person can be in such pain, such anguish, that the only thing they’re able to do is desperately try and make the pain stop. I’ve been in *physical* pain that bad. So, I can find it easy to understand how a person can be in such emotional pain that they just need it to stop.

      That, to me, isn’t a ‘choice’. That’s reacting, not acting. A choice is acting.

    • I don’t think the issue is that people are choosing it or not. The issue is: Is it *simply* a choice? Is it a true, free will choice, unfettered by lies and delusions? That’s what he makes it sound like. (Yes, I did finally read his whole post.) It’s so much more complicated than whether people choose to do it or not. So much more complicated than seeing joy or thinking of others. And the people who are convinced off ledges are having some **outside voices** trying to connect with something inside the person, something that will get that person to see differently just for an instant. Without being able to see some element of truth that will keep them alive, they would have jumped. There’s also the aspect that many people who take very public measures for about-to-attempt suicide are actually wanting help, wanting to be stopped. Those who are very private about it are so convinced of untruths in their minds, they truly can’t see that any other way would be better.

  3. I don’t disagree with you or with Matt. The problem lies in who is making that choice. Are you a person of sound mind who had a bad day (I’m over simplifying here) or are you are person with a mental illness that has had that choice made for them by the sickness they are battling? Part of the issue with Robin Williams is that he says he was never diagnosed with any mental illness although it certainly sounds like he had all the classic signs.
    I was not with him in his final hours and am very far from a doctor so I’m not going to speculate on his mental status. I’m only going to say this is where the accusations of “selfish” comes into play.
    Having depression and being depressed are not the same thing.

    • From what I’ve read, he was seeking treatment for depression shortly before his death. Coupled w/his history of addiction, I would sincerely be shocked if he wasn’t clinically depressed. Many addicts start out ‘self medicating’ due to mental health issues, depression being, I believe, one of the most common.

      Keep in mind too, that for many folks, ‘depression’ isn’t considered ‘mental illness’. “Mental illness’ has a huge stigma still attached to it. Easier to admit to depression than mental illness. The impact it would have on a person’s career, to admit to mental illness could be huge, whereas ‘depression’ is understood (or assumed to be) by most folks. Not saying specifically that was the case for Robin Williams, but just my own observations, from folks I’ve known personally, and when I was working.

  4. I read both of Matt’s posts on the issue of suicide. I thought of Saint Pio, who was asked by people who had a loved one commit suicide, if their loved one was in Heaven. St. Pio was able to see whether the person had or had not felt remorse for committing suicide before dying, and they were in Heaven if they repented, but not if they did not repent before dying. This would imply that suicide, is, then, an act of the will. I have a hard time thinking about it, because of the total hopelessness the person afflicted with depression must have felt. It is such an awful illness, and hope is what keeps us going when we cannot comprehend something so terrible. However, Saints, like St. Pio, seem to have been given insight into the act of suicide, and were aware that is is an act of the will.

    • Thank you for your comment, Jodi!

      Problem is, not everyone has the same faith or beliefs. Therefore, the opinion of a Saint that isn’t shared by others, doesn’t enter into the equation at all. St Pio isn’t in the Bible, but rather was Cannonized by Pope John Paul II. Therefore, to folks of non Catholic faith, he carries no authority on the subject.

      Given that it is a very fallen world, and that God is considered the perfect parent in Christian faith, I have a very difficult time with the idea that God does not recognize the true impact of mental illness, and the tortured person who grapples with it.

      I’d also point out that, in Biblical times, ‘mental health’, as well as numerous other health issues, were not identified, but were ascribed to demons, possession, etc.

      And even if one believes that a person suffering from mental illness is demon possessed (I have heard that argument, I’m not espousing it) do you really think that God would hold someone accountable for what happens while possessed?

      And for those of different faith, or who are agnostic, atheist, or anything else in the world, the Christian perspective, while it may be interesting, is of no authority, or weight.

    • I am Catholic, as well, Jodi, and the Church’s stance on this is:

      “Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide” (#2282)

      This is just the religious way of saying what I’ve been saying above. ๐Ÿ™‚ The will is affected when the mind is under duress. And even St. Pio isn’t saying it’s about the will, the choice to do so, but the feelings, the remorse, involved.

      • I agree. I think we are talking about two different things, that is, whether a person’s choice to commit suicide is a choice, or whether they are forced to do so, and if they do, are they forgiven and in Heaven. Most certainly, they are in the hands of a merciful God, and, most certainly not automatically condemned because of this one act of murder. Especially considering their mental health is compromised by no fault of their own. The Catholic Church is very comforting in her theology and teachings and we trust God to save all those who are in want of saving. However, to say that there is no will at all involved is an awful thought for a person who is afflicted with depression, who may see that as a statement that suicide is inevitable. To discuss that suicide is a choice, then, gives more hope than to say suicide is not a choice.

        • There’s depression, and then there’s depression. Personally, I think there is a place that someone gets to, when it’s beyond regular therapy, meds, etc, where they need inpatient treatment, b/c they’re simply unable to make safe decisions.

          That’s the place I’m talking about, when I say it’s not a choice. When someone is in need of a 72 hr hold, for example, b/c they’re so far into the abyss that, alone, they cannot find their way out.

          When someone is so far into that black abyss, they cannot see options. That’s why I state it’s not a ‘choice’. To make a choice, you have to have more than one option, and I truly believe that there are situations where a person is so unwell, so tortured and anguished, that they’re unable to identify another option without serious help.

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