I once stumbled across an acquaintance’s blog post. She was talking about why she’d managed to never want to commit a suicide during the worst period of her life.
She wasn’t a big fan of either religions or God, so basically she credited her decision to common sense. She figured that committing a suicide simply didn’t make any sense. By staying alive she would be able to experience better, more beautiful and fun things, while suicide would only bring an uncertain end to everything. For her, suicidal people were stupid people who didn’t know how to enjoy their lives.
I once attempted a suicide.
It failed, of course. I used an over-the-counter drug that won’t kill you, unless you swallow hundreds of it. I woke up the next day with a bloody diarrhea and a feeling of uselessness, but was very much alive. If only I’d been what I am today, a fully functional medical doctor, I certainly would have done it more effectively.
The reason I did what I did was pretty classic: my boyfriend had threatened to leave me. He was two years older, already in college. We met through online chatting. He was possessive, so we often had the most ridiculous fights about things, like why he didn’t want me to join a band, why I had to join his church when we were married and why he’d never join mine, why he didn’t like how I dressed, and so on. And I loved him – were bound to him – like crazy.
You probably think I was stupid and that’s understandable.
But it wasn’t the brightest period of my life. As long as I remember, I’ve always been a bit socially inept. It’s always rather difficult for me to make friends. I was in 11th grade then, a teenager with glasses and a freakingly low self-esteem, who always sweated too much, besides being a smart student.
I went to private schools, the best ones in town, but the kind attended by mostly bourgeois students. Since 7th grade I had one single friend. She was a tomboy who actually looked like a boy. We were stuck together, because that’s what weirdos do.
It was months before the senior high graduation when I came to learn why our schoolmates always teased us, picked on us, and generally despised us. It wasn’t out of being a black sheep. All those years, they’d been gossiping that we were lesbians. I’m sure that, too, was exactly why most boys flinched when they had to dance with me on our annual retreats.
Amid this mess, I clung to my boyfriend like a safety rope. He came from a different background, different ethnicity. He was more low profile than anybody in my school ever was.
I felt like he was the only one, beside my not-so-harmonious family, who actually accepted me. Loved me. Cared about me. He did not flinch when he touched me. I had my first sexual intercourse with him. He asked me to do things sexually, things that I didn’t actually like, but in the end I did it. For him.
When he said he would leave me, no wonder all hell broke loose.
When you search “suicide” online nowadays, you’ll find new viewpoints. Not everyone thinks that suicide is simply a selfish and stupid act anymore. Some survivors have spoken up. They talked about how they felt, about their pain, about even worse pain when their suicide attempts failed and people knew and began to judge.
This is my first time opening up about this episode of my life. I never told anybody but my boyfriend, who laughed at me. But those people, those suicide survivors, I feel them. What happened to me wasn’t even as bad as theirs, but we were in similar situations, similar state of mind.
People told them how selfish they were, how stupid and how ungrateful. The fact is at that time they were under so much pain that their mind just shut down. Shut. Down. It wasn’t that they weren’t thinking about their loved ones or the future – they just couldn’t. All logics had failed. All common sense had gone away. Everything was pain and the only thing left was how to make it stop.
And what a subjective thing pain is. To a clinically depressed person, bad weather or rotten flowers might be enough to trigger the worst of it. To a PTSD, the sound of fireworks on New Year’s Eve could trigger the fear, which could then trigger the pain. To a bullied student, having popular schoolmates repeatedly laughing about her or his looks was just enough to bear.
Being suicidal, however trivial the reason may seem to us, is never about stupidity or selfishness. It’s about the feeling of hopelessness, being cast out and unwanted. Being a nobody. It’s about being deafened and blinded by the pain that somehow can’t be shared. It’s about being so choked by loneliness that it starts to whisper dark thoughts into your ears – or being saved from the loneliness, only to be left out again.
Today I am better. My time in junior and senior high schools was the most fucked up period of my life, but it got much better at university. And now that I’ve graduated, travelled places, worked far away from home for almost three years, and finally had a sensible boyfriend, it all seems much clearer.
I do wish my acquaintance would read this. Not that she was entirely wrong, we just have different point of views, and we are never in each other’s shoes. I’m happy that she never went through all the shit I went through, and I hope she wouldn’t have to. I just want to tell her that I think the reason I never feel like doing it again is neither because I’ve grown smarter, nor because I’m less selfish now.
I’ve just seen more of the world, and, thankfully, it’s made me happier.
Putri Widi Saraswati is a feminism and writing enthusiast. She’s not a big fan of how people impose their concept of morality on others today. Unfortunately, she’s a doctor, the one profession that morality cannot let go.