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This morning Henry Rollins, the former Black Flag singer turned LA Weekly columnist, wrote a piece called “Fuck Suicide.” Judging by the title I expected him to tear into depression, or, better yet, yell about our nation’s troubling lack of mental health care, but Rollins didn’t do that. Instead, he set his sights not on suicide, but the victims of suicide, going so far as to say he has "distain" [sic] for those who choose to take their own lives, and he did so while supporting the harmful stigma that depression and suicide are the results of "mistakes you make."
...I simply cannot understand how any parent could kill themselves.
How in the hell could you possibly do that to your children? I don’t care how well adjusted your kid might be — choosing to kill yourself, rather than to be there for that child, is every shade of awful, traumatic and confusing. I think as soon as you have children, you waive your right to take your own life. No matter what mistakes you make in life, it should be your utmost goal not to traumatize your kids. So, you don’t kill yourself.
Let me give you a little help, fucker. First of all, not everyone who kills themselves does so in order to escape a mistake that they've made in their life. And parents who kill themselves as a means to finally escape crippling depression could very well be thinking of their kids when they do it—their conclusion may actually be that their kids are better off without them. Depression is an asshole. It will turn your brain inside out. It will break you and make you feel completely worthless, helpless, and, in the worst cases, better off dead.
I have lived with depression for most of my life. I’m not shy about it, and I have written about my experiences multiple times. I get that whenever there is a high-profile case regarding depression, suicide, or mental health, a lot of people who don't know what they're talking about when it comes to depression suddenly feel the urge to weigh in on the topic, but doing so is actually quite harmful. For several years I neglected to deal with my own suffering because I was convinced that it was something that I was doing wrong. I was being weak, I was being dramatic, it was all. my. fault. I know better now, but while Rollins's words are obviously complete bullshit to me, they could be enough to give someone dealing with depression permission to keep blaming themselves instead of reaching out and getting professional help.
But wait, the piece gets better! No, I mean worse. It gets much worse. Rollins, who says "I am not a doctor," also offers up some keen medical advice:
Almost 40,000 people a year kill themselves in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In my opinion, that is 40,000 people who blew it.
Fuck suicide. Life isn’t anything but what you make it. For all the people who walked from the grocery store back to their house, only to be met by a robber who shot them in the head for nothing — you gotta hang in there.
Telling someone with depression to "hang in there" and that "life isn't anything but what you make it," is equal to saying "Cheer up, bro" or "Get over it." But depression is not something you get over; depression is not something you wish away. It is a medical condition; it is an illness. It can come with both mental and physical symptoms, and it can be absolutely debilitating. There is treatment, but there is no known "cure," and when fucks like Henry Rollins loudly support the myth that depression is just a phase, a mood, or something to "get over," it perpetuates that misconception.
So fuck Henry Rollins. I get that as a columnist you want to weigh in on current events, but he took the laziest way to be a part of the discussion. It's more than lazy, actually—what he wrote is dangerous. As soon as he admitted to not understanding depression, he should've set aside his ego, shut his mouth, and listened instead of judging and giving advice. But I guess shutting up and listening never got anyone thousands of shares on Facebook, did it?