An Unpopular Opinion About Depression and Suicide

in psychology •  5 months ago

Life is much like a composite of sedentary rock that is layered in a span of millions of years. Much with the rock, we only get to see the top layer since it is the one that is directly connected to us. To go deeper we need to dissect the rock to see what lies beneath.

We view suicide, depression and pretty much everything else through a scope of superficiality. It is inevitable since our brains are lazy and so we take the most obvious answer as the valid one. This is also why we only notice the top layer of the rock without realizing that without the layers below it, we wouldn't be able to stand on it. Without understanding the layers of life many rush to explain suicide or depression.

Depression has been labeled as some kind of disease because people decided that that it is something undesirable. In the same way, many are trying to treat death as a disease because they are afraid to die. Human perception shapes the meaning and purpose of some processes to be negative, positive or plain undesirable without evaluating properly the point of their existence. This is also how we have come up with religion. We were afraid of death and we found a loop or rather a narrative around it that makes us feel better.

Nicholas Nassim Taleb in his books describes this phenomenon pretty accurately. He explains why it is not advised to put ice on swollen wounds. Evolution has structured that specific immune response so that the body can cope with that injury. Even-though ice can bring down the swelling it is not very clear if the restoration process will be finished the same way or as efficiently, even if we have some evidence that it works in the short term. Depression is much the same. It is a required step that it is not advised to be bypassed for the sake of avoiding pain.

And that is really the main issue here. Much like with a swollen wound, we are trying to treat depression with pills, therapy or lead a life that completely avoids it. We are not treating it as something that is naturally a part of our life.

Similarly we have come to believe through religion and plain human selfishness that is wrong for someone to commit suicide. When somebody else dies we lose a part of ourselves. We feel it devalues our own sacred beliefs about life. If we know the person, the pain simply drives us to the superficial layer of "What if I could prevent it".

Most of us don't realize that even if they are atheist, their responses to how the world works is based on religious wishful thinking, trying to somehow control the world and try to explain it with superficial reasoning. It does not work like that.

Why on earth would somebody that is financially and socially successful would want to kill themselves? Our petty mind simply cannot fathom how Bourdain or Spade could possibly take their lives recently. So Reuters, representing the popular opinion, suggests that we need more and better medication. As if medication for depression is not killing enough already from suicide. Really, the warning its on the package.

As I noted in a previous post, there is nothing wrong with suicide. What's problematic is the perception of those who experience the event. The ones that are alive. These are the people who have the problem with suicide. Not the person committing it.

If someone has fulfilled everything in their life, traveled, had family and saw that its all a wild ride, or well played joke, there is nothing wrong ending it all before medical causes take over. Some times the body gives up and some times the mind does. Thing is, most people struggle to achieve fame, money and power their entire life and don't realize that if you have all that, it doesn't mean much. You are still depressed much like a child who is forced to play the same video game over and over again.

Jim Carrey said characteristically “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer.” In those lines lies the answer behind the bullshit we came to believe about depression, suicide and everything else in between. The "experts" of academia who sit behind a desk trying to evaluate human beings on bell curves, the article authors of popular media that try to offer solutions based on wishful thinking or the medical enterprise that simply provides medicine based on demand and supply.

As long as we value the lives of others so much more than our own, we will perceive suicide as an assault on the living. We will fail to realize that what is rather preposterous is to continue living just to satisfy some pop culture fanatics that are wannabes of the position that those who made it are. Life is nothing more but an experience, much like a game. Sometimes it becomes unbearable due to lack of excitement. Some other times due to lack of interest or physical injury. The cause is irrelevant. Heck, famous people might have ended it because they got lucky with their success and after self evaluating they couldn't bear that all it takes is just that, Luck.

Depression and Suicide are just another facet of the human experience, not worse or better than anything else. We are better off leaving our inhibitions behind and just embrace this concept. As humans continue to live longer and longer and able to entertain all the neurons that are jailed in our skull, we will continue to get depressed and we will continue killing ourselves.

I leave you with a song from Boston

Now if you're feelin' kinda low 'bout the dues you've been paying
Future's coming much too slow
And you want to run but somehow you just keep on stayin'
Can't decide on which way to go
Yeah, yeah, yeah
I understand about indecision
But I don't care if I get behind
People livin' in competition
All I want is to have my peace of mind, yeah, whoa
Now you're climbin' to the top of the company ladder
Hope it doesn't take too long
Can'tcha you see there'll come a day when it won't matter?
Come a day when you'll be gone, whoa
I understand about indecision
But I don't care if I get behind
People livin' in competition
All I want is to have my peace of mind
Take a look ahead, take a look ahead, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Now everybody's got advice they just keep on givin'
Doesn't mean too much to me
Lots of people out to make-believe they're livin'
Can't decide who they should be, whoa
I understand about indecision
But I don't care if I get behind
People livin' in competition
All I want is to have my peace of mind
Take a look ahead, take a look ahead, look ahead

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It's interesting to see that in some countries committing suicide is illegal - as in you will go to jail if you survive

hey man ! how are you!

This is a great view of the subject. You will be surprised at the number who are living with the knowledge of some love ones who have committed suicide. Sometimes that knowledge is public, many other times it is private. That is, people did not know the death was caused by suicide. There is such a stigma for the living, that they may not done everything they could to help make the person who committed suicide prior to him/her making that fatal decision. The guilt remains no matter what everyone around says.

The mind is a previous thing to waste. When I get really depress I think about my past and what made me happy.

The things that we value the most in life will provide the energy we so desperately seek to live on. It is not simple but that is apart of life. Nothing is the way it seems and no one can plan everything. But to appreciate the moments we live and try our best to do what we want to do in life is a precious gift.

Put it into perspective each person who is born had to compete with millions of other sperms in order to win out in their own right to exist. That my friend is already a success. Everything else in life that he or she does and is remembered for is icing on the cake. Thanks.

you had me until you cited Boston... then the air went out of the balloon for me (-:

Quite a different perspective on depression and suicide. You would think that famous, rich and successful people wouldn't dare think of suicide but it's not always the case.

Funny I came across this from @kevinwong's page, I actually did a piece on the same topic afew hours ago. It's so sad to see so many great and talented people succumbing to depression.

It's something I can relate to and it cuts deep to even think about it currently, fact is, we need a better working solution, especially for men. I get so angry when I see people telling men to "man up", like they are not supposed to have emotions or rather express themselves. I think that is the major contribution to male species, bottling everything on the inside and having to deal it on their own because society expects that of them.

Your perspective was rather interesting to read, gave me sth to think about deeply. Great post!

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That's wisdom, I think. The Boston song takes the idea about accepting our human condition even further, maybe: namely, that once you accept that depression and suicide are just a part of life, you may decide you no longer want to commit suicide. Because often the internal pressure to commit suicide comes from the voice inside that says that you don't match up to some rigid previous conception of life you had, of where you should be, how you should feel, what you should be doing. I really like what Rob Bell has to say about the Japanese concept of "Ikigai," which suggests that our reason for living can constantly change, and that new ones will come if we accept life's hardships, without judging ourselves, and just roll on with living.

man... that was good, it was rough, it made me upset, but only because it was truth...

Nice post! we all certainly need to learn to come to terms with our pain a little better and to work through it and not just supress it at all costs.

I’d say grear post/article, but I know you’d just give me the ole ”I didn’t write this for you, I don’t care if you liked it, fuck off” so I’ll just shut up.

Upvoted anyway.

This is some heavy stuff man. It's controversial. I am not even sure what to comment, as someone who has never been depressed.

But I do know for sure we need to keep talking about it.

Thank you.

You bring up an interesting discussion, though I would still argue suicide is bad.

So in terms of depression, in the west we seem to have decided that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance where as in some other societies it's treated as a need not being met. If your working in an office and your miserable and you wish you had more leisure time and would feel better getting some physical activity, it doesn't make sense to give you a pill when simply not working as much and being able to be more physically active would solve the unmet needs you have and you would no longer be depressed.

The only scenario where I think suicide may be acceptible and even then I'm torn is if someone has a terminal illness that's going to cause a painful death andthere's no positive outlook, then I can kinda get it.

That said with Anthony Bourdain and not saying I agree with this, but I can see it. Anthony Bourdain is an atheist so any of the religious/sin reasons for not committing suicide were not in play for him. He also strikes me as a very level headed guy, doesn't seem depressed to me, has a very stoic outlook on life from what I can tell as an outsider.

I can totally see him being in his right state of mind essentially saying I"ve lived an amazing life, I've done all there is for me to do here, I've seen everything I want to see, I've traveled alot, I'm done. I can totally see him being like that although the one thing that throws that off a bit for me is he does have a wife and a daughter


That's exactly what's missing here: responsibility. What happened to leave love behind? As a parent, untill the very you have responsibility and love to give. Why step out? I just cannot get my head around that. One must be very drugged...


I agree, if he didn't have a wife and kids he does seem like the type of dude who could take his own life without necessarily being depressed, I could just see him kinda being like I lived my life, I've traveled, I've accomplished everything, etc, however seeing as how he has a wife and daughter that doesn't seem likely

I haven't read much about Bourdain's "battles with demons", and I obviously never knew him personally or at all other than the image portrayed in his book(s) and TV work. But as much as one can I grew to love, respect and cherish his presence. I do understand that people choose to end their lives, I was depressed once myself for almost a year. No record. But during that time I did some pretty self-destructive things and even although I thought about suicide during that time it wasn't that serious - mostly conceptual - put it did find it had altered my self-preservation instincts and in the next few years I came close to almost accidentally dying because of it. Many years on I don't have that any more.

However, it bothers me that someone like Bourdain might have been tipped over the edge by drugs he took - prescription or otherwise. I know people and have heard many others talk about taking prescription meds and freaking out over how suicidal it made them very quickly.

Bourdain once wrote something like "I have the best life in the world so if I am not happy it is only because of a spectacular failure of imagination". I wonder if he could be magically brought back to us if he would still stand by that? I would cry if it turns out he was actually happy and it was just some dumb side effect of drugs that brought on a temporary and catastrophic failure of imagination.

its sure important to know that state of our inner man determines what happens to us in our public life. many succumb to depression as a result of bottling up too much on the inside untill they cannot take it any more and just decide to end it all by committing suicide. @kyriacos, kindly check this post, to help this Amputee :


Good old Kyriacos strikes again.


Suicide is not bad per se, but the sad part is that it is human to think that a certain mood, perspective and circumstance are final and definitive and there is no other escape, while in reality these things are often a perception of a moment in time that is finite and can be changed. I have suffered depression when things were technically going good, and optimism when things were going bad.

Suicide is sad when a healthy person leaves us while we think their depression hid the other way out; a drastic change in life that would bring back joy. Because once new found excitement is found, it does wonders to your perspective on life.

Why is this relevant? Because many believe that life happens only once. Death is probably permanent.

I was inspired by Stephen Hawking. He didn't have the most proficient body for interacting with the world, but his take on life was interesting:

"We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe. For that, I am extremely grateful."

Skip to 35:43

I live in a country with one of the world's highest suicide rates (if not, the highest) and it doesn't seem to be addressed. Quite frankly, death happens and it doesn't stop the world from spinning. The second someone passes away, that person's loved ones still have bills to pay,children to care for, cars to be cleaned, etc. This quote from the post really got me thinking about that.

If someone has fulfilled everything in their life, traveled, had family and saw that its all a wild ride, or well played joke, there is nothing wrong ending it all before medical causes take over.

For some reason, I can't help but imagine Taleb and his cynicism writing this piece. You raised a good number of points, though I can't confirm for sure if your view is accurate - I myself have not been in depression.

From what I know there is mood depression & clinical depression. Those who succumb to it the most are clinically depressed.

Awesome write up

The black dog, aint a nice shadow!