Opinion

Matt Walsh, Robin Williams, and the choice of suicide

(Photo credit: Bago Games on Flickr)

The tragic death of Robin Williams reminds us all how precious and invaluable one single life is. Each human life touches so many others – often many more than that one person knows.

Robin Williams was a valuable person. But so are you. So am I. And all of us equally so.

Popular blogger Matt Walsh wrote an article on Williams’ suicide that immediately went viral. Many criticized and condemned Walsh for calling suicide a choice.

And yet, if we believe that each life is valuable, precious, and worth keeping around in this world, the only thing we can call suicide is a choice.

We call suicide a choice, not to condemn those who have chosen it, but to inspire those who have not. We call suicide a choice, not to bring shame on those who chose it, but to shine the light of hope on those who are considering it. We do what we do for those who are still with us, alive and breathing.

We call suicide a choice in order to honor life. To honor those who have been brave enough to reject it. To honor those who have stopped in the middle of it. To honor those who have never tried it again. To honor those who have had the courage to cry out for help. To honor those who chose to believe that, despite what they were feeling or thinking in the moment, despite what their circumstances were pointing to, despite what hateful people had done to them, their life was still worthy of being chosen.

Still, there is hope. (Photo credit: Paul Willows)

Still, there is hope. (Photo credit: Paul Willows)

We call suicide a choice to call on the beautiful, struggling people out there to choose life for themselves. We call suicide a choice to help many see that they, too, can say “no.” To help them believe that there are many more people who they have touched and helped and loved than they can ever imagine.

If we say that suicide is not a choice, we strip the medal of bravery from those who have rejected it – and from those who have yet to reject it. If we say that it is not a choice, we condemn countless others to hopelessness and to suicide itself. We invite fear into the hearts of many who will wonder when suicide will visit them and enforce its own will upon them.

This is not freedom.

This is not compassion.

But there is hope.

Suicide is a choice – even if the only basis for this claim (and there are more) is that so many have chosen against it. I am honored to call one of these people family. She is so much more valuable than she has ever been able to see, much more necessary than she will ever realize, and the lives she has touched and changed are far beyond her own recognition.

She is worthy of living, whether or not she believes that in every moment. And despite her various beliefs about herself, despite the demons of doubt that have haunted her, despite what her brain has told her, she still chose to say “no” to suicide.

More than once.

For this, I (and countless others) will be forever grateful. And it is people like her that I choose to honor when I say that suicide is a choice.

May many more, like this woman I love so much, choose to say “no” to suicide and “yes” to life. Again and again. And again. May each of us say “yes” to life every single time we are faced with the choice.

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