Why you’re wrong about suicide.

About a year ago I wrote a piece on depression and how it changed me as a football fan, how my illness had stolen my passion for a game that I was once so passionate about. The response was genuinely touching, people from all walks of life got in contact to empathise and to share their stories. The general consensus was that in time my love for football would return. Well it’s been 12 months and at the behest of a handful of folk I thought I’d write a follow up; let you all know whether I cared about football again.

I suppose there is a long answer, but to be entirely honest the short answer renders it fucking irrelevant.

No, I don’t care, not even a little bit; my emotional ties with football appear to be irrevocably severed.

Fear not however, for I have not dragged you all the way over to this dark corner of the internet for nothing. Whilst we’re here and skirting around the subjects of football and mental health I’m going to take this as an opportunity to talk about suicide, and why most of you have got it all wrong. I’ll try to keep this light but I realise suicide as a subject makes people uncomfortable so I won’t judge you for closing down the tab.

For those still with me, thank you and let us proceed.

Recently the BBC aired a show called ‘Football’s Suicide Secret’, I watched bits and bobs of if, it was fine, there was nothing particularly revelatory and there was nothing face-slappingly infuriating either (which is pretty much the BBC’s ‘Modus Operandi’ these days). No, the revelations, the face slapping and the infuriating idiocy came later, via the medium of twitter.

Right about now I should be laying in to the Neanderthals who bashed out 140 poorly arranged characters with the aim of informing their 70 odd followers that “real men don’t commit suicide”, that “suicide is a coward’s way out” and that “anyone who commits suicide is a selfish cunt”. To be quite honest though I can’t be arsed, they’re clearly not very bright, they don’t bother me.

What I would like to do however is explain to anyone who cares to listen how guys like me think about suicide.

Having read this far I’m going to assume that you’re not the type of person who would tell someone who is mentally ill that suicide is a cowardly and selfish act. You wouldn’t tell them that but I bet deep down you’ve thought it. Don’t worry it’s a perfectly natural feeling to have, in fact it’s a good sign, it shows your brain works properly. My brain does not work properly.

To a ‘normal’ brain the very idea of suicide is utterly abhorrent, our instinct is to survive, survival has been the ultimate goal of our species from the moment we took our place on this planet. Therefore to actively choose to end your own life is to go against our most base desire, not to mention thousands of years of conditioning. Like I said, my brain is far from ‘normal’.

To me (and others like me) suicide is not some incomprehensible alien concept; it does not stir up thoughts of horror or anger or confusion. Quite the opposite in fact, it makes sense, it’s one of the few things that does. I think about suicide every day, I don’t consider killing myself every day but suicide is permanently on my mind, usually in the background, occasionally in the foreground. It acts like a safety net; the knowledge that you have an option if things get too much is incredibly comforting.

I suppose I should address the oft heard ‘selfish’ accusation. The idea that suicide is an intrinsically selfish act is an understandable one, I mean it’s wrong, but I see how you could arrive at that conclusion. The problem, as always, is in your working. To look at suicide through your own eyes and judge it by your own values will always give you a distorted picture. When someone decides to end their life it is not, in their mind, a selfish act, it is in fact wholly selfless. This next statement might sound a tad obvious, but people who commit suicide generally don’t have a particularly high opinion of themselves. A belief that their passing will ease the burden on their loved ones and society in general is pervasive, maybe even seductive.

On a purely personal note I do not believe killing myself would be a selfish thing to do, what would be selfish was if I allowed myself to create a network of people who cared about or depended on me, all the time knowing that there may come a time where I have to use my safety net, leaving an unnecessary trail of suffering in my wake. I have put quite a lot of effort into systematically alienating anyone close to me over the last few years, that may sound awful to you but to me it’s just the decent, polite thing to do.

I realise this has been a bit fucking dark and I haven’t mentioned football for a while but I’m about to remedy that.

The advantage of having a ‘broken’ brain is that you can trick it; it’s a bit of an idiot at times. Because suicide is a practical, logical thing to brains like mine, it can be derailed by practical and logical obstacles. This will sound stupid, and fittingly it’s where football re-joins us, but something as simple as having a football match you plan to watch or to attend can be enough to stop someone killing themselves.

“I can’t kill myself today because I was gonna watch Man United v Arsenal on telly tomorrow”

 Told you it was stupid, fucking works though.

Apparently our attention spans are getting ever shorter so I’m going to wrap this up. I’d like to think I’ve altered your way of thinking just a little bit, made you aware that for many people in this world suicide is a just a practical solution to a practical problem and is far from a selfish thing to do, if I haven’t managed this then so be it.

I really hope this hasn’t been too depressing but if you’re feeling down this is the internet, there’s loads of videos of people falling over, animals acting like humans, shit like that, you’ll be cheered up in no time.

If you’d like to follow me on twitter where I take the piss out of footballers/football fans and post the odd amusing photo then that’d be lovely. Also feel free to leave a comment below the line.

I’ve written at greater length (and with more jokes) on the emotional side of football in my (very reasonably priced) E-Zine. Don’t worry it’s not just me, some much more talented writers than myself contributed as well, give it a chance, you might be pleasantly surprised http://www.amazon.co.uk/All-Or-Nothing-Magazine-ebook/dp/B00BUAC2H8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363455774&sr=8-1

I should point out this is in no way, shape or form a suicide note, there is after all a World Cup next summer, no way I’m missing that.

6 comments

  1. I was amazed reading this how much of what was written reflects my own experience. The daily thinking of suicide, or if not that the notion that a fatal car crash or something like that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. The way I alienate people, and sometimes the thing that has held me back in the past is the fact that the one relationship I haven’t insulated myself from is with my parents, people who I’d never manage to alienate. I’ve often thought that when they pass away I’ll be dead within 6 months. The constant need to have some sort of thing planned in the future too, “well shit, I’ve already paid for the ticket, it’d be a waste.”

    I’ve been thinking about the issue in general a lot today given the day that’s in it. When someone kills themselves you often hear people say things like “he (usually a he) did it because he had money worries/had a marriage breakdown etc.” and I always think, “that’s not right, he did it because he was depressed” and my depression isn’t caused by things, the things that get to me when I’m depressed are pretty much always there when I’m not, but I can handle them. My depression manifests as an inability to handle these stresses. I get depressed because I get depressed. But I realise that my experience of depression may not be the only way a person experiences it so perhaps the reasons that other people give when a suicide happens are the real reasons. But it is somewhat nice to know that my experience of it is not a unique one.

    I’m actually doing really well at the minute. I woke up one Friday in July and it was like a switch had been flicked in my head. No thinking about suicide for about 6 weeks, and very little can get me down. I’m 33 now and this is the longest period of not being depressed I’ve had since I was 16. I don’t know how long it’ll last and I’m confident that there’ll be more bad times on the way down the road. But I’m going to enjoy how I’m feeling right now till it ends.

    Thanks for writing your blog. It really expresses much of what I would find very hard to articulate.

    1. First of all I’m delighted to hear your well, that’s fantastic news. I think the ‘wishing’ for a fatal car crash thing will resonate with a lot of people reading this, I’m sure that’s very common. Also, you’re right when you say we all experience depression in a different way, there are common themes I guess but the disease can look entirely different from one sufferer to the next.

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment, I really do appreciate it.

      Stay well pal.

      Ally

  2. Before I only saw this matter articulated in the poem, which chimed with me and I often secretly reflect upon. Thanks..

    Nobody heard him, the dead man,
    But still he lay moaning:
    I was much further out than you thought
    And not waving but drowning.

    Poor chap, he always loved larking
    And now he’s dead
    It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
    They said.

    Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
    (Still the dead one lay moaning)
    I was much too far out all my life
    And not waving but drowning.

    Stevie Smith – Not Waving But Drowning

  3. Great stuff – thanks for sharing.

  4. I don’t think that suicide is either weak or cowardly or selfish. When people speak of someone losing their battle with a physical disease they often say “…he fought so hard” but then they think losing a battle with a mental disease is weak like there is no battle involved?

    1. That’s a very good point, depression and mental illness as a whole is an illness, not sure people realise that. Thanks for getting in touch, it’s really appreciated.

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