Public remorse about the recent death of Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park, made me think about the subject of suicide. He killed himself, and it seems like there have been a fair number of other celebrities who have recently done the same thing. These include Chris Cornell, the lead singer of Audioslave, this year, and Robin Williams, the famous actor, a few years ago. The deaths might only appear to be frequent because famous people are in the public eye, so everyone hears about their tragedies. A far smaller number of us become aware of the average person who commits suicide.
Regardless of why we pay more attention to celebrities, their success makes it feel more alarming when they take their own lives. I think that this is because we forget that famous people are still human like the rest of us. So even if we know it rationally, we often imagine their lives as utopian. How can someone at the top of the world feel so depressed that they kill themselves? If even celebrities can’t handle the pressures of every day life, what hope do the rest of us normal humans have?
Again, I think we should always remember that celebrities are people too. They’re not gods, so they have the same problems as the rest of us unworthy peasants. Fame and success don’t immunize you against depression, and make everything awesome all the time. In some ways, maybe they can contribute to making you feel worse. Look at the rampant drug problems of almost every rock star you can think of, plus actors who also recently died. They include Phillip Seymor Hoffman, who was in movies like Capote, and Charlie Wilson’s war, and Carrie Fisher, know for playing Princess Leia in Star Wars. Hoffman had problems with heroin, and Fisher apparently had cocaine and heroin in her system when she died. Clearly, you can be adored by the world, but it doesn’t necessarily make you happy. Since these people were human, they got depressed. Like all of us have the potential to do, they are some of the few who let it get to them so much that they committed suicide, or died of drug overdoses.
Before I go on, I want to make it clear that I think that sometimes, people should be allowed to die prematurely. I agree with euthanasia, which is doctor-assisted suicide. That’s because if you have a terminal illness that causes you endless excruciating pain, like cancer, I can understand wanting to die to end your suffering. If you can’t go to the bathroom by yourself or maintain personal hygiene, you wallow in agony all day, and you’re going to die soon anyway, it’s kinder to let a doctor euthanize you, in my opinion.
That being said, I think that we can learn from the suicides of famous people. If you’re not suffering daily from a terminal disease, don’t kill yourself. Celebrities doing so shows us that the problems we all deal with can get to anyone. They can get so daunting that even those who many of us view as better than ourselves can succumb to suicidal depression. Their deaths demonstrate that they are people too, and they don’t have special powers that make them always happy. Like all human beings, whether you’re an actor, musician, lawyer, cashier, athlete, artist, entrepreneur, model, or garbage man, some have problems dealing with depression. Your job or career doesn’t necessarily have any impact on this. Money and fame don’t automatically make you happy, and they sure as fuck don’t solve anyone’s emotional issues.
Everyone gets depressed at some point, even the happiest hippies in the world. It’s part of being a person. Generally, we don’t let it get so bad we stop seeing the point of living. We deal with it and carry on with lives, or at least it appears that way. Most people probably don’t talk about it when they feel emotionally terrible, especially men, because it can make us seem weak. I would be willing to bet a large sum of money that the majority of human beings at least contemplate suicide at some point. But you have to deal with it somehow, so you don’t cause unimaginable hardship to everyone who loves you. That’s what happens when someone kills themselves, and it’s why it’s often selfish. You think that life is so hard that it seems better to die, and you don’t consider the people who will get hurt by your death. I know this because I’ve thought about suicide before.
So why shouldn’t you kill yourself? I think that this is an important question, even though you won’t read or hear about it from self-help gurus or books. Broad, counterintuitive questions are crucial in my opinion. Thinking about why you shouldn’t do something bad can be better than asking why you should do something good. If you ask why you shouldn’t eat M&Ms for every meal, that can be more effective than considering why you should eat meat and salad. That’s because learning about all the negative health effects of processed sugar can scare you into eating more healthily. This can work better than researching the “virtues” of vegetables and protein. When I’ve seriously considered suicide, I’ve asked myself the same questions and come to the same conclusions as Tim Ferris. He’s a self improvement expert, who has discussed this subject on his podcast, and in his book, Tools of Titans.
When I decided to live, it was for basically the same reasons as Tim Ferriss. I had gone through a difficult time, which helped me identify with his challenges. Almost everyone goes through them. He had relationship problems. So did I. He was having trouble with school and felt like he would never amount to anything. So did I. He didn’t see the point in trying anything because he thought he would just fail, and resented the burden he felt like he was to his family and friends. So did I. Basic every day tasks like brushing his teeth and taking showers seemed daunting because depression can be so crippling. I felt the same way. He seriously considered killing himself, and thought in detail about how he would do it. So did I.
This is why I chose to live: I thought about how selfish suicide is. I don’t think that anything happens to anyone after they die, but even if you’re religious, you subject your family and friends to undeserved suffering if you take your own life. You remove yourself from the world, and take away every future opportunity for anyone to interact with you in any way. Think about how that might affect your loved ones. They could resent your decision, and they would have every right to feel that way. If you kill yourself, that means that you didn’t think that anyone in your life could talk you out of it. How would that make someone feel, knowing that you thought that death was better than listening to them?
You take away any future experience if you commit suicide. Sure, you’ll never feel depressed, angry, or insecure again. But you’ll also never laugh, smile, feel happy, love, or make others laugh, smile, or feel happiness or love ever again. You might think that no one cares about you, and that you make no contributions to the world. However, even the biggest assholes occasionally bring joy to someone’s life. Sure, from a nihilistic and even scientific perspective, nothing and no one matter. But if we didn’t choose to delude ourselves, we wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Even serial killers make a positive difference in someone’s life.
It’s important to always remember that things will improve. Yes, sometimes life sucks a fat hairy dick. No one can expect it to always be awesome. Our emotions fluctuate wildly between happiness and depression. But the one good thing about life feeling as bad as it can possibly get is that it will get better. If you’re at the bottom of a well, you have to climb out of it. You’ll fall down a hell of a lot more of them, and you’ll have to climb out of those too. But sometimes, life can get so amazing that you feel like you’re surrounded by unicorns and rainbows. Obstacles are made to be overcome. Most experiences are in the middle of the spectrum, but we should always remember that when life sucks a fat hairy dick, it will eventually lead to unicorns and rainbows.