Joost Zwagerman, a Dutch Writer committed suicide on the day his new book got published. I didn’t know him, but the news appeared everywhere. Another known person took his own life- a writer took his own life. The news articles told me he had been struggling with manic-depression and had a father and a best friend that tried to take their own lives before.
When my friends tell me they want to die I respond with the following: “You do not want to die, you want this pain to stop. The only reason you feel like you want to die is because you see no other way to make the pain stop. There is another way.”
“A suicidal person does not want to die; he wants to have another life.”1
There is a lot of truth in this sentence. If I would have committed suicide the first time I felt like I really wanted to die, the act of suicide would have been very rushed. I felt like I wanted to die because everything important in my life was crashing down and I knew of no way how to fix it. It certainly wouldn’t have been a good reason to commit the act but does suicide require ‘a good reason’ and is it even possible to pinpoint one single cause for one’s action?
I have thought about suicide a lot; not just about committing it, but also about how the entire process works. There must be people that commit suicide for the reason I wanted to that very first time. However, I can’t imagine that most of them take their own lives for that reason. What I’m trying to say is, I’m no longer sure- hypothetically speaking if I would ever commit suicide- whether that is because I choose to or not. Mental illness is an illness that we can only control up to a certain point. If that’s so, can’t we only control the act of committing suicide up to a certain point as well?
There are ways to keep yourself from reaching that point of desperation. Being aware that you do not want to die but only want the pain to stop can decrease your desire to. Getting reminded of the good things in life and the people that you love and who love you can help too. Maybe if you’re aware of the pain of loss, of the people that you leave behind the act can no longer be committed. But Joost Zwagerman was once aware. He wrote a book2 about the consequences for the people left behind after one’s suicide. He knew, yet he could not shake his demons in the end. Maybe the pain became so much that he had to stop caring in order to remain to stand. And maybe, once he turned his feelings off but still felt the eternal cutting inside he could no longer stop himself. Maybe at that moment, he wasn’t really himself- yet, only vaguely aware. That is what I imagine it to be like.
I’m really afraid that people regret their suicide during the last seconds of their life. But I really, really hope that I’m wrong because I wish to no one such a fate.
Please note that I’m reflecting back on my past. I no longer think about committing suicide myself.