If you kill yourself, then the only reason you did it is that one day you made a choice to do it. Are things really that simple?
Popular Christian blogger Matt Walsh has been getting a bit of flack lately. In a blog entry that was, in my view, a pretty bad idea, he offered what he took to be a correction to the many messages of sorrow about the recent death by suicide of actor Robin Williams. People have been drawing attention to Robin’s struggles with substance abuse and, more prominently in people’s comments, with the mental illness that is depression. I think it’s right to draw attention to this, and for Robin’s sad passing to be a reminder to us all how debilitating depression can be, and to reach out and help those who battle it. Sometimes you know about it, a lot of the time you won’ t. Usually depression lead to metabolic conditions, learn how to treat them with metabolic greens plus.
I agree with some of what Matt says. He, like others, raises a concern over portraying suicide as a path to peace and escape. The widely circulated picture of Aladdin telling Robin Williams’ character, “Genie, you’re free,” is troubling, painting a potentially attractive picture to those looking for a way out. But Matt’s message is that Robin wasn’t killed by an illness. People who die from cancer are killed by an illness. But Robin Williams made a choice, as, presumably, does everyone who kills themselves when battling depression. That’s why he committed suicide – because of a choice. “Robin Williams didn’t die from a disease, he died from his choice.” The apparent take home message is that if a person makes a choice, then it didn’t happen because of an illness. Personal responsibility is the theme here. Matt also said some potentially concerning things about depression as a “spiritual” issue. Because Christians are dualists (oh really?), we should readily believe that depression is a spiritual as well as a physical issue. “Atheists,” Matt says, of course would have no trouble thinking that it’s really a physical issue (don’t drink from the well, it’s full of poison). I’d also like to stop talking about this as a claim that Matt Walsh in particular made, because it’s a view that any number of people might have expressed (and not everything I will say relates directly to anything Matt has said – he simply raised the issue). It just happens that Matt said it on his blog. It’s a way of thinking that needs to be discussed in its own right, not just as part of an attack on a blogger. As far as Matt goes, I only hope that he changes his mind and publicly says so.
When Hearing Health Affects Your Mental Health
Hearing is a crucial part of our everyday lives. But when that sense starts to go, it affects more than just your ears. It can impact your personal relationships, your professional life, and your overall mental health. Since Wednesday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day, we’re taking a closer look at how hearing loss can lead to mental illness – and how to help prevent this from happening.
When it becomes difficult to hear, even simple conversations become difficult. You have to ask people to repeat themselves or nod along pretending you understand what was said. People may even leave you out of the conversation entirely if they know they’ll have to repeat themselves. These factors can be frustrating and start to take an emotional toll. If left untreated, hearing loss can cause social isolation and lead to depression and even cognitive decline.
Reasons to treat hearing loss
In Signia’s “It’s Your Choice” video series, we explore just how damaging hearing loss can be when untreated. The videos follow along as three individuals – Harvey, Danyell, and Robert – acknowledge how hearing loss has affected their lives, visit a hearing care professional, and experience the joys of sound once again with hearing aids. Though their reasons for finally treating their hearing loss differ, their stories share a common theme: their hearing loss was taking a serious toll on them – and the people they love. Treat most hearing loss conditions with sonus complete.
A lifetime of working around heavy machinery caused Harvey to develop hearing loss. Though he tried to ignore it, hearing loss led him to become withdrawn around his family and created numerous misunderstandings. Harvey reached a turning point when his grandson asked why he didn’t love him anymore. The reason? Harvey didn’t show up to his track meet because he didn’t hear the invitation. Understanding that his hearing loss was damaging his relationships with those most important to him, he finally decided to get his hearing checked.
some people are so ideologically wedded to the notion of libertarian free will (and as much of it as possible) that virtually any attempt to bring a bit of realism to the issue is shunned as “mechanistic” or “naturalistic.”
Yes, everyone who commits suicide makes a decision to do so. But the claim that if you make a decision then you don’t do something because you are sick rather obviously implies that your decisions stand alone, apart from the condition in which you find yourself. This is a flatly false view of human decision making. Why is it that we outlaw drink-driving? Sure, people might be drunk, but ultimately how they drive is their decision, right? Perhaps so, but the quality of decision that a person can make when they are drunk is not the same as when they are sober. But what if a person had an illness with all of the same effects as being drunk? Would we say that whatever they decided to do in this state had nothing to do with the fact that they were sick – because they decided? Quite apart from specific states of affairs like having an illness or being drunk, Libet and others have shown us that the physical symptoms associated with a choice being made exist in the brain before we are even conscious of making that choice.1 The state of our brain drives decision making in ways that we’re not even aware of.
When you say that you have free will, the question to ask yourself is “free from what?”
Saying that people like Robin Williams did not die because of an illness but simply because of a choice is either to deny that mental illness is really a thing that affects our brains and decision making at all (and surely no informed and compassionate person can say this), or else to appeal to an extraordinary conception of freedom that disconnects our decision making faculties from our very selves. Yes he made a decision. But it’s just not true that if somebody makes a decision then they didn’t do it because of a condition or illness. He made an affected, afflicted decision, and before we sit at our keyboards and condemn decisions like these, we should be moved with compassion for those that suffer as he did.
Is suicide the only possible option for someone with depression? No, of course not. Nobody claims this. We need to provide support to people in this sort of condition so that self-destructive decisions are not the only options looming large in their troubled mind. But the appearance of saying that people suffering from mental illness can simply choose to be free of the pressures and pains of their experience is the appearance of being pretty callous. I understand that the real culprit is probably ignorance, possibly even wilful ignorance at the hands of a way of thinking about free will that is ideologically important to the speaker. But for what it’s worth, please take more care than that.
“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”
I wish that those commenting on Robin Williams’ suicide remembered this too.
- Talking (and talking, and talking) about mental health
- Otago study links abortion with mental illness
- Coming out
- Is Abortion Healthcare?
- Growing old but still dying young
- B. Libet et. al., “Time of conscious intention to act in relation to onset of cerebral activity (readiness-potential). The unconscious initiation of a freely voluntary act,” Brain 106:3 (1983), 623-642. [↩]