Show some empathy, not hostility
By Jessica Berget, Staff Writer
Ever since the recent suicide of Linkin Park’s lead singer Chester Bennington, people have come to interpret the circumstances of his death in many different ways.
Some say his death is a reminder that anyone can suffer from mental illness, even famous singers and people surrounded by family and loved ones. Some encourage those with mental illness to get help and to reach out if they are having thoughts of suicide. Then there are those who call his suicide an act of cowardice or selfishness, saying that he couldn’t handle his mental state and took the “easy way out,” leaving his family behind. Not only is this way of thinking incredibly negative and toxic, it is not reflective of mental illness by any stretch.
As someone who has struggled with depression, I never understood why someone would consider suicide a cowardly act. It is an extremely toxic and unhealthy way to interpret someone’s suicide. Suicide is a decision people make when they feel hopeless, trapped, and isolated. They feel like there is no other way out of the black hole of depression. The sad truth is, when you’re contemplating suicide, you’re generally not thinking about how sad your loved ones will be if you left them; you are actually thinking about how much better off they would be without you. In some ways you think you are doing it for them, not in spite of them.
People seem to forget that depression is a mental illness, and in many ways people with depression think committing suicide is the best thing to do because their mental illness is a huge burden on them. To call them a coward is just insulting them, their families, and anyone struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.
Mental illness and depression still have a lot of negative stigmas behind them. By calling someone a coward or selfish for contemplating or committing suicide, you are not just contributing to the harmful stereotypes that come with depression, you are trivializing the people who have struggled with suicidal thoughts, and the communities of people struggling with mental illness.