There’s been a lot in the news recently about whether people should have the right to die when they choose. The news stories always focus on people with incurable illnesses, locked in syndrome, degenerative multiple sclerosis. I’m very much pro-choice, people should be allowed to do what they want within reason, it’s their life. Something happened on Twitter last night though that really made me question the extent to which this applies to mental health. Should someone who is acutely suicidal just be allowed to get on with it or should we (both personally and as society as a whole) intervene?
Rather than get into big sweeping generalisations, I’m going to talk about my own experiences. I’ve been that acutely suicidal person with an absolute desire to end it. I tried and it’s only through intervention from friends and the medical profession that I didn’t succeed. At the time I resented it hugely. I thought dying was the only option I could face and I couldn’t understand why people wouldn’t let me go for my own sake.
Now I see things somewhat differently. While I am not entirely jubilant at life all of the time, I am at least interested in seeing how it pans out. If I’d been allowed to do what I thought I wanted, I’d never have met my boyfriend, got a puppy, had the chance to start my own business. I look back and I’m grateful that people intervened when they did, they gave things a chance to change.
I’m not saying that things will change for every suicidal person with a mental health condition. However, bad brain chemistry, call it what you will, does make you see things in a distorted manner. This can make you feel and think things are one way when that isn’t entirely the case. How do you determine when a decision is what someone really wants or if what they want can be changed with the correct help and treatment?
I don’t know the answer. I’m just glad that people did intervene and give me the opportunity to get to where I am today.