Maddie Yates was another child interested in turning to YouTube to express herself and the developing thoughts she had on the world around her. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFdsp3dsfYA Her intro music and topics were upbeat. The video link in particular highlights her good intention to be heard and to speak out for those struggling with acceptance. When you see Maddie’s glowing face, you see someone who is more than willing to be your friend.
Unfortunately for Ms. Yates, her best friend in high school committed suicide. A year later (before YouTube took down the video) Maddie herself would be speaking about her choice to make the same fatal choice. The language she used was flooring:
Maddie’s suicide has left me with a lot of questions on where she learned to speak this way. I wonder if amidst all the grieving, she might have heard an all too common phrase thrown around by adults in these types of situations: “Suicide is selfish.”
The language our society uses, in regards to death, is complex and on many occasion ends up with unfinished conversations (as is the mystery of death). Adults are aware that children have active ears; historically shown to mimic all words/inflections– including cruel ones. Yet when tears flow at a funeral, a person is inclined to say just about anything to comfort a friend/relative of suicide.
But how on earth can continue not recognizing that by saying suicide is selfish, we are attacking an already deceased victim? It is victim blaming beyond the grave. What purpose does that serve to help those still alive and full of real questions of how to avoid this awful outcome? The disgusting suggestion adds insult to injury for grieving families.
What conversations surrounded Maddie when she grieved for her best friend? In her own explanation for choosing to end her life, Maddi expressed recognizing the hurt everyone was going through. Somewhere along the way she was convinced that committing suicide is a selfish act.
And then she killed herself, regardless of being aware of that “fact.”
NEVER CONSIDER NOR SUGGEST SUICIDE IS A SELFISH ACT. THIS INSULTS THE AN ALREADY DECEASED INDIVIDUAL WHICH IS CRUEL; AND DOES NOTHING TO HELP THOSE STRUGGLING OR GREIVING OVER THIS SUBJECT.
We must pull away from trying to create a single answer for what motivates a person to end their life. Let us step back and consider what their life meant up to that point. What type of healthy compassion can we give those struggling to understand suicide? Struggling to understand the depression, dejection and isolation that comes with suicidal thoughts?
When kids like Maddie feel like “there is chance that the worst day might still be coming,” let us find a way to shout back that there is a greater chance for better days to come – because they do not have to face the worst days alone.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please seek help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).