Psychology Sociology

Suicide From Stigma

isolation

“Nothing in my life has ever made me want to commit suicide more than people’s reaction to my trying to commit suicide.” ― Emilie Autumn

The stigma surrounding mental illness contributes to the risk of suicide. As Goffman states, the stigmatized individual is asked to act so as to imply that their burden is not heavy; stigma makes every person their own jailer. This causes separation from society and the feeling of loneliness. As Mother Theresa said, “loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” Jules Verne said, “Solitude, isolation, are painful things and beyond human endurance.” Lastly, as Jean Vanier stated, “to be lonely is to feel unwanted and unloved, and therefore unlovable. Loneliness is a taste of death.”

In Why People Die By Suicide, Thomas Joiner argues that a sense of thwarted belonging, perceived burdensomeness, and a loss of hope causes suicidal ideation. Stigma is a mark of social exclusion, causing further harm to some of the most vulnerable members of society. No one would ever say that someone with diabetes is not a whole person, but people often imply that with mental illness. As Sonia Estrada states: “I had people saying ‘it’s all in your head’. Do you honestly think I want to feel this way?” People say, “just shake it off,” but mental illness is not like the Taylor Swift song; you can’t just “shake it off,” and it’s not just a phase.

Loneliness exacerbates mental illness; community facilitates mental health. A society that promotes mental health must first eliminate stigma. As Luke Richardson states: “We need to change the culture of this topic and make it OK to speak about mental health and suicide.” When the spirit of ‘Bell Lets Talk’ day becomes EVERY day, hopefully stigma will no longer alienate those with mental illness.

This post is based on a twitter-essay I composed for ‘Bell Lets Talk’ day.
It can be found on my page here: https://twitter.com/SteveRoseBlog

27 comments

  1. I’m probably the only person I know that somehow missed the Stigma attached to my Depression or maybe I just don’t care enough about people outside my friends-family for it to affect me so I tend to be open and vocal about my mental health issues. However I found trying to describe how depression effects you to people who’s emotions just don’t get that dark very frustrating. There have been times when I’ve felt like I’m speaking a totally different language because they are Pollyannas (sliver lining to all bad events) and I felt like Miss Havisham out of Dickens Great Expectations (living in the dark mouldering cobwebs of my mind)

      1. Just now reading and enjoying some of your posts after I was made aware of your blog when you stopped by mine and chose to follow me (thanks for that!😊). Your comment here about mental illness not merely being a lack of positive thinking or will power is what I was trying to illustrate in my post titled “A Downward Spiral” when I tried to think my way out of slipping into a depressive episode (https://calledtobeawriter.wordpress.com/2017/06/02/listening-to-lies-a-downward-spiral/). I’ve both worked in healthcare and suffered from depression for over 30 years and at least twice, I’ve been seriously suicidal (had a plan in mind), so I can relate to the stigma associated with mental health issues. It saddens me whenever I hear comments about the “crazy” ones from coworkers who should know better.

  2. This article was very helpful and informative. I have a Bi-Polar son whom has tried to attempt suicide several times and now living in adult foster home for the mentally ill. I will continue to read youre posts.

  3. Reblogged this on living in stigma and commented:
    The stigma against mental illness has come along way, however, we still have to keep educating. It’s the theme of my blog “Living in Stigma”. Loneliness, isolation and the feeling of worthlessness are what people with mental illness feel. Thanks for the post.

  4. One of my friends, a single man in his 40s, committed suicide a year ago. I feel I failed to be a better part of his community when he needed help. I didn’t know he needed help, as is often the case, I think, with men who commit suicide. And also I was wrapped up in my first newborn, an experience which ironically made me feel isolated as well, so I unfortunately was not in a great place to reach out myself, but I really wish that I had.

    I miss him.

  5. Reblogged this on Maritime Doldrums and commented:
    “As Luke Richardson states: “We need to change the culture of this topic and make it OK to speak about mental health and suicide.” When the spirit of ‘Bell Lets Talk’ day becomes EVERY day, hopefully stigma will no longer alienate those with mental illness.”

  6. Reblogged this on Notes from the north and commented:
    I think the statement “loneliness exacerbates mental illness” may not necessarily always be the case. There may be those for whom being alone somehow relieves their mental illness. This has certainly proven to be the case with myself several times. Community does not necessarily (at least I do not believe) facilitate mental healthiness, and can indeed contribute to mental illness in some. However, an interesting post….

    1. Thanks for the reblog. I think there is for sure a difference between being lonely and being alone. I also agree that communities can contribute to issues, so long as stigma is present.

  7. I’ve mentioned this many times, along with many other concerns I have with the guidelines and ethical standards that must be followed. Of course, there are plenty of good reasons and OBVIOUS standards that should be followed.. But, there are some that LIMIT the practitioner from applying something beneficial because it might be against the “standard”

    For example: (Just for thought)!
    What if a person was to tell a therapist that they were thinking about suicide, and the therapist responded with;
    —You always have that personal (right/option/choice) …. But, knowing that you have that option if needed, that is no longer a concern…. Meaning—- If someone knows that it is “permitted/accepted” to make that choice…. Maybe, they will keep trying at life, knowing they have the option to choose! But,
    They know it is “currently not accepted” to talk about.
    It is my opinion that a lot of suicides are ones committed by those in silence, and are unexpected. They usually do not give any advance notice, or threat of it. While those who use “suicidal gestures” and other clearly observable behaviors of concern, I feel are less likely to commit suicide than those who don’t.

    1. When I was suicidal my husband sat me down and told me he had already forgiven me for it (my at-the-time forthcoming suicide). He didn’t want me to die thinking he would hate me for my actions. He knew the quality of life I had was not living. Funny thing, the only reason I hadn’t completed it yet was because I didn’t want him to hate me. His conversation with me gave me permission/acceptance to carry out the act. It erased my only reason for living. I finally felt free to go. So I secretly started getting my affairs in order and picked a date. I think if you give permission to people to kill themselves and not intervene, they will kill themselves. Severe mental illness (to the degree of suicidal ideations and behaviours) usually prevents individuals from having rational thought.

  8. There is something interesting about the mental illness and its treatment in the Western society. Progress is slow, and we only recently discovered new ways of its treatment through art, narrative, animal therapy, or psychoanalysis.

    I’m currently reading some Foucault’s work on the topic – History of Madness, and it is a very dark and powerful read. I still don’t know if we can really blame our society for the mistreatment of the mentally ill, but what I know is that it is not that much better in other cultures.

  9. Reblogged this on The Grey Matter of HD and commented:
    Food for thought: We should never feel so ashamed that we stop sharing our thoughts and feelings. The more I know I can talk about feelings of wanting to disappear, the more I can express those feelings and release them instead of giving into the fear and blocking out those that do care.

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