Is Suicide Really Selfish?

This story about one man’s depression and suicide attempt answers one of the nagging questions about those who take their own lives.

By Lairs Johnston

I attempted suicide.

Even saying that brings in this overwhelming desire to explain myself. I want you to understand my situation and tell you my story so you don’t think I’m a freak for trying to kill myself.

The truth is, depression doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter how funny you are (Robin Williams). It doesn’t matter how talented you are (Kurt Cobain). It doesn’t matter how creative you are (Chris Farley). Depression is an equal opportunity villain.

I feel like God is more concerned with our hearts than He is with our actions because out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Even in the garden when Adam and Even ate the apple and hid God’s first question was “where are you?” God knew where they were, but instead of addressing their actions, He addressed their heart.

I say all this to answer the question “Is suicide selfish?” My motives for ending my life were simple. I wanted to stop the pain and hopelessness that I woke up with every day. In many ways, I felt like so many lives around me would be better off without me. When you are suicidal and get to the edge of the cliff, you look down and see peace, not the pain that those around you would feel if you jumped. When you’re so sick that you can’t move, you get to the point where you’re willing to try anything. For many people battling depression, suicide is trying to do something. As someone who’s been in that situation, it seems cruel that someone who isn’t in my battle would call me selfish without ever offering a rope to pull me out of my own despair.

People view depression as a weakness. For me, it’s not.

I live in a world so twisted, so perverted and deprived of decency, that depression makes sense to me. How can you not be in need of a good cry after 5 minutes on social media with the death and controversy and arguments?

I have been told suicide is the most selfish thing that a person can do. I think, for starters, we have to realize we’re talking about people who are committed enough to take their own lives. Now, if you’re someone who’s never attempted suicide , this might sound ridiculous. Killing yourself takes one part determination and one thousand parts insanity. It’s not easy. After 247 aspirin and 11 Percocet taken with cranberry vodka, you’d think the job would be done and right now I’d be pushing up daisies. Morbid, I know, but here I stand. There but for the grace of God go I. Literally.

My mistake? I took everything too fast and my body threw up most of the pills before they took effect. Like I said, killing yourself, even with extreme commitment, is hard.

After my suicide, I got really good at Oprah-fying my story. I even picked out the actor who to play me in my Lifetime move–Brad Pitt of course. Exaggeration was my friend.

One night, I drove 14 hours straight to walk into my fiancée’s dorm room only to find her in bed with another man. You should feel bad for me right now.

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Now that time has passed. I’m able to tell the story the way that it actually happened. I was a bad boyfriend. I was manipulative, scared, insecure, and I made a girl an idol in my life. She was meant to be honored, not worshiped.

The thing that has really irked me is when people say to me “promise me you won’t kill yourself.” This statement seems like it has good intentions, but what I heard was “I could not care less if you have a reason to live, I just don’t want the guilt of your death on my hands.” People who attempt suicide are just like alcoholics. Not drinking isn’t solving the problem–they need a purpose bigger than drinking. Alcohol is a symptom, not the main issue. It’s the same with suicide. Not killing yourself isn’t living, it’s existing, which should drive any person into depression.

THIS WORLD SUCKS. FIGHTING IS NOT EASY. DEPRESSION DOESN’T HAVE TO BE MY WEAKNESS. I CAN USE IT TO DRIVE MY HEART TO DO SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT.

So here I am.

Life wasn’t meant to be comfortable. I was not meant to be a spectator of the world, but to be apart of it and when you’re a part of it, you get hurt. If I don’t feel, if I don’t grieve; then I’m not fighting. Depression doesn’t have to be a weakness. It can be a strength used to drive compassion into the weary.

To be honest, I’d love to say that depression is something I’ve conquered, but that’s just not the case. What has been conquered in my life is hopelessness. Jesus affirmed my pain, He didn’t condemn it. He grieves with me. I believe in and am in relationship with a compassionate God. The tunnel may be dark, but there’s still a light at the end of it. Jesus will return and restore this world to the way it is supposed to be. I’m not fighting this battle alone or on my own strength. Every day I’m able to wake up with new mercies and the same hope.

My depression has allowed me to realize what’s important. It’s not a six-figure job. It’s not a Grammy. It’s not how many sports I played in college. It’s not how many hundreds of millions of views I have on YouTube. It’s not how many instruments I play. It’s not how impressive other Christians may find me or how they may judge me.

What’s important to me is that Jesus is real, now, because of that–Nothing. Else. Matters.

We are visitors in this world. I love Acts chapter 5 where it talks about Peter and the apostles getting arrested and flogged for preaching the name of Jesus, and what do they do as soon as they’re released? They praise God for the opportunity to be beaten in His name.

Jesus, be big enough in our lives that our perspective can’t be tempted by culture or the lies of this world. That we give quickly the possessions that gather rust and moths destroy and hold tightly to the truths of You. Jesus is all we have and Jesus is all we need.

Lairs Johnston
Lairs is the chief of sinners, saved by grace, with a life that just goes to show you God can use anyone.

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