When I got to work a few hours ago, I saw a bunch of stories online about the death of Gia Allemand, a former contestant on the reality TV show “The Bachelor.” She had been taken off life support after a suicide attempt. Now, I do not watch television (except stuff on Netflix), so I am not familiar with her at all. But I still read a few of the stories and I have to say I was absolutely disgusted at some of the comments.

There were many comments expressing sadness over this person’s death and wishing peace to her family. However, sprinkled in were not a few comments calling her selfish for “taking the easy way out” and “leaving her family to deal with it.” A few even expressed that the author felt “no sympathy for people who kill themselves.”

I know that in general, people are more likely to say things behind the screen of anonymity afforded by the internet than they would be to say them out loud to someone’s face, but I find this sort of comment absolutely sickening. I know there are many reasons a person may hold those beliefs: maybe somebody close to them has attempted or completed suicide and they are struggling to deal with it, or maybe they themselves have had suicidal thoughts and cannot reconcile their beliefs. And I feel for those people. However, that does not excuse making hurtful comments about someone else and their situation, about which you know basically nothing even if you regularly watched them on television.

The majority of people who attempt or complete suicide are experiencing some type of mental illness or substance use disorder. People who attempt or complete suicide do not do it because they are selfish, weak, or wanting attention. They do it because they perceive it as the only solution left. Their lives are literally so unbearable that it would be better to die. Think about that for a moment. Try to feel what the person who decides the world would be better off without them is feeling.

Now think about their family and friends (who presumably love them dearly, although we know there are exceptions to this). Someone they cherish, someone they may even have been willing to give their own life for, is gone. Someone for whom, if they had only known how, they would have given or done anything to make it better. Someone they envisioned a future with, someone who mentored them, someone who provided a shoulder to cry on and likewise maybe cried on their shoulder but didn’t dare say what was really wrong or how bad it was. Think about how it would feel to be grieving someone you love while simultaneously wondering what you could have done to prevent their death. How do you think it would feel to go online to check your email or work on funeral arrangements only to be bombarded with comments about how selfish and weak your loved one was? Can you feel the vomit rising in your throat?

It is easy to judge others and to project our own fears and insecurities onto them. This does not give us the right to actively hurt people by calling their loved ones weak and selfish. The truly selfish thing is to use someone’s personal tragedy to feed one’s ego. You get the momentary glory of sharing your opinion with the internet, while the person’s family gets to have their grief and loss deepened forever. Is it worth it?

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