Courage or Cowardice

The suicide of Vic Chesnutt over Christmas affected me not only as a fan of his music, but as someone who has been there before. Fortunately none of my attempts were successful. I owe my life to some very special and amazing people who looked out for me, saw that I got help and were there even when I might have wished they were not.

Suicide is either something very courageous or extremely cowardly. Perhaps it is a little bit of both, no matter how dissonant that may seem.

It takes a great deal of courage to contemplate taking your own life, let alone actually doing it. That is why so many people who suffer from severe depression, or other affective disorders, never get to the point of becoming suicidal. The thought alone is enough to scare many people into getting help if they already haven’t. And for some others it may serve as a reality check, that maybe your life is not that bad after all.

But for those who have the courage to pursue suicide, life itself becomes a living hell. You see, deep inside us all is a drive for self-preservation. Thus, every day becomes a constant battle between your desire to die and your innate will to live. This will is what keeps you from jumping in front of a bus or swallowing a bottle of pills at any given moment. The level of agony and angst caused by this inner struggle is immense and only worsens your mental state.

You see, staying alive for another day is not something you see as worthy of self-congratulation. If anything, it makes you feel cowardly for not having whatever it takes to kill yourself. It is not a way of life I would wish upon my worst enemy.

Eventually, this pain becomes so great that you take the cowardly route of ending your life. Cowardly because you’ve decided not to fight through the pain. And make no mistake about it, there is a choice here.  Taking your life is the ultimate avoidance technique. It’s an easy way out, an escape from reality that is much more permanent than drugs or alcohol.

I know that this might be provocative, but I truly believe that if you have the courage to plan your own death then you have the courage to fight through whatever emotional problems you may have. You will not realize it until you’ve made it through, which is why having a strong support system is crucial to surviving.

People may wonder why I am even willing to share this part of my life in such a public way. There is really only one answer- to help others. If one person is helped by these words, then it is worth all of the potential risks of people knowing about my darkest days. If you or someone you know needs help, leave a message in the comments (I won’t publish it), and I will do my best to put you in touch with the resources you need.

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2 thoughts on “Courage or Cowardice

  1. I along with many others am thankful u were never successful in ur attempts. Ur my good friend am I like having u around to talk to. Very nice piece u wrote. That took courage too. Talk to u soon, fella. I’m back in NYC now. Go Jet!!! Lol.

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