What Happened To Empathy And Compassion??

I read something very disturbing on facebook this morning.  It was triggering for me, so read on with caution…

One of my friends on there is the daughter of a very precious friend of mine who passed away a few years ago.  This morning, she posted that her brother just committed suicide.  He hung himself with his belt.  She later wrote that their father would beat them as children with his belt, & he was always depressed.  This poor young man must have had a very difficult life.

As if this fact wasn’t tragic enough, some of the responses she got infuriated me.  People told stories of someone they knew who took their own life, or said how sad this made them.  One responder even called her brother selfish for doing this.

Selfish?  Really?  Obviously this person has absolutely no idea what it’s like to be suicidal.

To be suicidal is to be in the most lonely, depressing place imaginable with no signs of escape or that anyone cares you are there.  You believe suicide will end your suffering, & end the burden you place on your loved ones.  Logically, it seems like suicide is the only means of making things better.  After all, you rationalize, it’s not like anyone would care if you were gone anyway, & they might just be relieved not to have to deal with you anymore.  You honestly believe you are doing the world, especially those you love, a favor by killing yourself.  There is nothing selfish or cowardly about suicide.

Living with C-PTSD, I think about it often.  In fact, I have for most of my life.  Thankfully, I’m aware that suicidal ideation is a normal part of this awful disorder, so I won’t follow through with my thoughts.

Being suicidal is the worst feeling in the world, I believe. Then to have this young man’s suicide brushed off as if it was a stupid, selfish action like gambling away rent money, or something to be compared to others’ situations infuriated me. I realize in difficult situations, most people don’t know what to say.  Rather than admit that simple fact, they often end up saying something ignorant, stupid or extremely hurtful. The truth is, however, most people would rather hear something like, “I’m so sorry that happened to you. I don’t know what to say about it, but if you need me, I’m here for you.” than to hear some anecdote, how much worse someone else has it, or even “You should be glad his suffering is over now & he’s in a better place.”  Comments like this are extremely painful!  How would you like to hear that you should be glad your loved one who died yesterday is gone?  Wouldn’t that hurt you?  Then it will hurt someone else too!

Please just think about what you say to someone in time of suffering before you speak!  Don’t just blurt out cliches,because they come across as hurtful & insensitive.  The last thing someone in a dark place needs to hear is something  that will hurt them.  Offer to listen, to pray with & for that person, to handle some chores they need done, to run errands for them or even cook for them.  Encourage them to grieve- there is no other way to come to grips with a loss other than to go through the grief process, no matter how long  it takes.  Use common sense when dealing with people who are suffering- if it would hurt you if someone said or did something to you, then it will hurt them too, so just don’t do it!

And, when it comes to someone who has killed himself, please don’t judge!  You have no idea what went on in that person’s mind to push him over the edge.  You don’t know what happened in his life, or how things affected him. You have absolutely no right to judge or criticize that person!

I really hope this post doesn’t sound like my friend’s tragedy was simple fodder for my blog. That certainly isn’t the intent. I just want people to think before they comment on situation involving someone they care about.  Suicide is a topic near to my heart as well, & having been called selfish as well, hearing another person called selfish who not only considered suicide but followed through breaks my heart.


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health

5 responses to “What Happened To Empathy And Compassion??

  1. Sherry

    I had a friend who lost a baby at birth. They they had a church service for him. what help me to not open mouth and put in foot was what the pastor said that made a lot of sense. “at these times it is hard to express your condolances and if you don’t know what to say, that is ok, cause the person/s
    will understand more with a hug or just saying so sorry. I was one of those people, and that made it so much more simpler than to say something that may make sense to me, but not to the ones who have the loss. As it is said, sometimes it is better to say nothing but sorry.
    As far as civility, i find that comes in when one says something hateful, most times they just don’t understand and pointing this out, on the board might help others to learn from it, Thank You Cynthia.
    I have a saying from way back after reading Civility, it is, Who took the civil
    Out of civility. OUr fast media today, twitter, fb, email, very little contact in
    every day life.


    • That pastor was absolutely right, as are you. Sometimes “I’m sorry” is really the best thing someone can hear.

      Thank you, Sherry.. I hope it does help other people to be more sensitive. I’ve said this sort of thing when I’ve lost pets in the past since many people tended to gloss it over as if it was no big deal, but I’m not sure it made any difference. I hope with this particular situation, it may open more people’s eyes to the need for sensitivity & compassion.

      Social media & email & such really is convenient, but it’s true- it takes out so much contact in every day life. It’s sad- we need that face to face (or at least over the phone) kind of contact!


  2. It does seem very hard for people who have not experienced depression themselves to understand what it is like to be suicidal. I have met many people who judge it very harshly, because they are comparing suicide to their own lives where depression has never entered. I think it scares them, too. But it also angers them because all they see is how irrational it is to them alone. I don’t know. I wish it was easier to educate people on what it is like and how much the judging does NOT help.


    • I absolutely agree with everything you said. People compare things with their own ex


      • Oops… typing on my tablet can be a pain, as you see in that last reply. lol Anyway people compare things with their own experiences, which makes sense, except when they have NO experience in the particular situation, like with suicide. It makes me sad how people lack the ability to see things from another person’s point of view. I don’t understand how they can’t at least try!


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