Tips & Insights

Why it Feels Like Suicide is Always an Option

Why it Feels Like Suicide is Always an Option - Click to read or pin to save for later - www.achronicvoice.com

*Trigger Warning: This post is about chronic illness and thoughts on suicide, and may be potentially triggering. Here is a list suicide hotlines to contact if you need help:

Worldwide Suicide Hotlines - www.achronicvoice.com

The Fears of Aging with Sickness

While I did not ask others with chronic illness how they feel about this, I know that many of us share the same sentiments. It feels like suicide is always an option on the table. And putting suicide aside, the number one cause of death in the world is due to chronic illness as well.

We are living out that rainy day scenario others are saving up for. Modern medicine combined with pieces of complementary therapies is like an umbrella. But one that is never big enough to shield us completely from the downpour. My lovely caregivers are also getting older by the day, and everyone grows naturally weaker with age.

Suicide as a ‘Retirement Plan’

I am somewhat calm about my future, because my ‘retirement plan’ is suicide. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t plan on dying anytime soon, and will live my days out to the best of my ability. But I do not own any material necessities such as a house, and have no spare change for anything. I live day-to-day, hand to mouth, not by choice. Should it ever reach a point where I’m old, homeless, alone and without any pain relief or medical support (because that costs a lot of money, of course), then suicide seems like a logical choice.

Some of you might label me as a loser, or judge me for my negativity. This might be true to some extent, but I know that I’m definitely not the only one out there with this thought. Death by chronic illness is a real problem that needs addressing, not brushed aside and undermined. If you truly care about someone who lives in permanent pain, then listen to them beyond the surface. Don’t hush them for being ‘morbid’ or silly, or because it makes you (not them) feel uncomfortable. If you’ve never reached the stage where you’d rather choose a painless death over a sudden fulfilment of your biggest dream, then you don’t quite understand.

The Ideal Society

It would make sense if the government gave chronic patients more direct access to the best medical care. These illnesses are complex and individual in nature, which require specialised care. Basic healthcare is next to useless for us, because the drugs we need are non-standard and customised. Regular assessments reveal little new insight as well. I never visit general practitioners anymore unless I know what the problem is, and what medications I need from them. Otherwise they refer me back to the emergency department anyway.

By the way, I discovered that there actually is a term for this:

Though not widespread, V-BID is not new. It was pioneered nearly 20 years ago by Dr. Mark Fendrick

Chronic illness patients who may be considering suicide are not doing so because they are weak. We have been fighting for a long time, some of us since birth, and it would take a toll on anyone. It would be nice if we had proper financial reassurance, physical support, and lived in a more compassionate and understanding society. I believe that most of us would actually choose to fight on despite the daily crippling pain if we did. I am not even referring to intricate science or fancy terminology, but basic empathy. A doable thing at any given moment. Is that too much to ask for?

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    For More Insight:

  1. Study Shows Having a Chronic Illness Increases Your Risk of Dying By Suicide (article on themighty.com): https://goo.gl/Cv9jpa
  2. An Important Question to Ask If You Feel Suicidal (article on themighty.com): https://goo.gl/fm1ai7
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Many people who suffer from chronic pain think about suicide from time to time. It's a real problem that needs addressing, so let's talk about it. - Click to read or pin to save for later - www.achronicvoice.com

15 comments

  • I am not chronically ill, the challenges regarding which you have so eloquently described, but have stared down depression my entire life. I am 55 years old, unmarried, have no children or wife — because I chose never to burden anyone with my depression — and have been laid off three times in the last three years.

    I am tired. I had financial plans, pursued work that was satisfying and suited my talents but did not pay well. And I NEVER complained; NEVER whined when it all, ultimately failed. I have NEVER BURDENED ANYONE in my life. I managed my feelings myself, and never drank or took drugs. I coped inside. But now I am tired.

    Were I to commit suicide it would free up resources, housing, Social Security, reduce a carbon footprint, etc. It is a net benefit. I never tell people of my feelings because they would say, “weakling…just work harder…don’t whine…”

    But that’s the point, I have worked harder, I haven’t given in, and I never whined to anyone, and it all got worse and worse. I can no longer find work, no health insurance, housing in the SF area is $3000 a month for a studio, $1000 to rent a room. I am basically old and unemployable in my hometown.

    And so, the time draws closer when I’ll just sell or give way my stuff, clear out my retail room, settle my finances so what little there is goes automatically to where I desire. And yet it makes me very happy because I feel as if I am finally in control. Ending my life is the ONLY thing ENTIRELY within my control; isn’t that odd? And it gives me intense calm just thinking about that fact. Thus, the more I think about it, the calmer I get and am therefore able to cope. The promise of suicide keeps me going.

    • Hi Michael,

      First of all, I am so sorry to hear about your life situation. I know you are not looking for any sympathy at all, but where you’re at is definitely not a good place to be. Also, hats off to you for not wanting to burden anyone, even if they don’t look at it that way. We all deal with situations differently, and I can respect that.

      Just curious…do you see a psychologist or psychiatrist for your depression? I wanted to say it really made a difference in my life – seeing one of each. Now I only need the psychiatrist; it’s a bit of a complicated cycle with chronic illness, meds and mental health, but we won’t go into that 😉 But I’ve also learned that we all need help at some point in our life – whether we’re sick or not (and depression is a chronic illness of a form too – it is never going to go away, but can be managed in some ways).

      And I know exactly what you mean when you say that suicide feels like a relief; I guess that is what my article is trying to say, too. I don’t think ‘the promise of suicide’ keeps you going, rather, it’s ‘the promise of a way out’, which is symbolic of hope. It’s like there’s so much shit going on around, but death is that light at the corner that’s always there, and the only thing you know how to find with certainty.

      I truly hope you continue to keep up the good fight Michael. I know it may seem shitty, and honestly I’m in no position to give you any advice. But “hang in there” is all I can say. Keep me updated 🙂

  • I empathize with your pain. I am fortunate enough not to be diagnosed with a chronic illness yet, but at my age one never knows. One of our dearest friends chose the suicide option. We would have been happy to take care of him, since he had no family within thousands of miles. He had no medical insurance and suspected he had brain cancer. He did not bother to tell us that. We surmised it. He had always told us he would not die of a terminal illness, but I wish he’d told us his thoughts or at least seen a doctor instead of diagnosing himself on the internet. His symptoms may have been caused by something that could be fixed with medication. We had told him many times we would help him through problems and we always had in the past. But he was proud and did not want to be dependent on others. I’m sure he also thought watching him die slowly would have been hard on us, since he knew we loved him. We miss him terribly, since he as like a second son to us.

    I would urge people to be sure of their facts before ending their lives on a suspicion. If there is someone you believe loves you, and that includes friends and family, reach out to them and give them a chance to love you by helping you through your dark night. Don’t die because you are afraid to inconvenience someone who will miss you every day if you leave them. If you still feel there is no other answer, please leave them a note and explain why you made your decision so they won’t always wonder what they might have done to change your mind and blame themselves for your death.

    • Hi Barbara,

      Oh my, I am so sorry to hear that. It really is a tragedy when such an event happens, especially when it’s from reading off the internet, like you said! 🙁

      What I was writing about was more in relation to ending suffering, and not so much due to fear of bothering others. I think as someone who’s been ill for over 10 years, you learn above all to swallow your pride and accept help, and that that’s not a bad thing, really. Perhaps being ill at an older age can be a harder pill to swallow too, I’m not sure.

      In any case, I’m sorry to hear about your story once again. I wish too that he would have at least sought some help first.

  • I never talk about this subject because it causes great concern to my parents who are my caretakers. Thankfully I do have a home and I do receive money each month from Social Security Disability, but after my parents are gone, I will have nobody to help me. I have three brothers who live within 5 minutes of me but they are not interested in helping me even if it’s just something simple, even if I bed them which a I loathe doing. I used to be so strong and independent. I am a Christian and therefore we are to believe that each life has a purpose but it is awfully hard when each day is so full of pain with no relief in sight. I find no fault with suicide as a retirement plan. I believe that I will see my loved ones in Heaven so the thought of suicide doesn’t bother me much at all. Thank you for posting this, Sheryl.

    • Hi Shelley,

      Thank you for taking the time to read, and also to share your life with us here. It’s sad when family doesn’t feel like family – I get the feeling, too. We don’t have Disability here, so I’m not sure how I’m going to survive when I’m older, but hey, one day at a time, right? 🙂 And understandably, our parents come from a generation that is probably more prone to the stigma surrounding suicide, so they may just be of a different mindset, but ultimately it comes from a place of love. I wish you well as you continue to thrive on this journey! x

  • Suicide as a retirement Plan… This makes me think.

  • As always, you handled this with such wisdom, insight, realism, and sensitivity.

    • Thank you Stacey for your support and kind words as always 🙂 Looking forward to your next post too, I always enjoy reading them!

  • “It’s just a quiet mutual understanding.” TRUTH

  • I think about suicide a lot. It’s almost comforting in a way to know I’m not the only one thinking this way.

    • Yes I think so too 🙂 Like an unspoken understanding where we don’t have to explain at all, that’s why it’s so comforting. Not that we’re encouraging each other (for any other person reading this out there), but it’s just a quiet, mutual understanding.

  • I could not agree more and also have an end of life plan in place!

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