Guilt Won’t Help Suicidal People

Yesterday Ashley shared a piece about a blogger friend of hers who had died by suicide and the guilt trips she received on Twitter. The person had scheduled her post for after the fact, so she most likely didn’t see the guilt-tripping. However, this got both Ashley and me thinking about guilt tripping not being a suicide prvention strategy.

This person had written that her intent was to be hit by a train. This led people to blame her for traumatizing the train driver. While it is true that train drivers are often traumatized by people running in front of their trains, it is equally true that guilt won’t help suicidal people.

I was in a suicidal crisis in 2007. I also intended to be hit by a train. I disclosed this to my support worker in a voicemail message, which people overheard, as I was on a bus. They called the police, who called someone called a community physician. This doctor was supposed to liaise with the mental health crisis service. For some stupid reason, the police in that city can’t directly call the crisis service. Anyway, this doctor told me I was making people feel responsible for me.

Well, let me tell you, in a depressive state or any state that can lead to suicidality – mine was diagnosed as adjustment disorder -, this won’t help. This will, if anything, just tell the sufferer that their suffering isn’t as important as someone else’s suffering. It will also most likely reinforce the prevalent idea among depressed people that they aren’t worth much, which may further reinforce their suicidal ideation.

I also want to say there is no way of dying by suicide that won’t affect others. Then again, there is no way of dying that won’t affect those lefte behind.

Some people think that running in front of a train is extra selfish. Well, once I was in the hospital, I spoke to my mother. She told me that I was selfish, because if I died by suicide, my parents would have to pay for my funeral. Let me tell you, this only made my depressive mood worse.

Sometimes, it can help suicidal people if you gently ask who they will leave behind, so that they might realize they still have loved ones. It didn’t help me. I didn’t have friends at the time and my family were, like I said, very unsupportive. In any case, don’t appeal to someone’s sense of responsibility or selflessness. That’s only going to make them feel worse and it won’t actually help those who would be affected by someone’s suicide. People who are suicidal benefit from support, not judgment or guilt tripping.

10 thoughts on “Guilt Won’t Help Suicidal People

  1. Agree a million percent 💙💙💙, thanks so much for writing this! 🤗.

    One thing you really need in that situation is hope for change.
    As well as real listening, empathy and validating of your suffering.
    And a hug.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Actually, I mention this now because it’s so relevant— I actually came across somebody who was suicidal, outside the jobcentre (of course), as I was walking out. (This was in September last year). They were talking about finding a way onto the train tracks— they were asking me the best way.

      I firstly gave them a hug, then we went to a coffee shop and I let them talk for as long as they needed, then I helped them to plan their next steps. It really turned things around for them on that day. I stayed in touch for a few weeks, and they continued to improve.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Everybody else, including the jobcentre staff, were just treating this person as if they were insane and deserved criticism. I could see that they were just a normal person in a very desperate situation. I’d been there.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh thanks so much for saying that. When I was suicidal, I was also in a desperate situation. Though I do need to add that if that person were “crazy”, they still deserved support rather than judgment.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Beautifully written and well said. I am preparing a post for the community blogging site about how to spot signs of depression and maybe help someone, maybe even save their life…And I was writing that yeah, it’s important because I have these mental issues, but more so…I’ve lost 4 people to suicide in 15 years and I have a cousin who used a gun and survived, but he is so brain damaged he is a drooling shambling man-child.
    If paying a little more attention to those around us, showing some compassion, and not shaming them for depression or suicidal thoughts saves lives…It’s worth more than people can realize.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. THIS. No one can understand just what it feels like, how rationality can just not exist. I knew I had people who loved me, but I just couldn’t use that information, there was a wall there. And being blamed for being selfish and hurting others just makes the urge to get out even stronger, because at least then it’s over eventually. Thank you for putting this post out there, I hope some of the people who need to read it do!

    Liked by 1 person

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