Is Suicide Selfish? A Caregiver’s Point Of View

There has been a lot of talk and backlash from the mental health community about the use of the word "selfish" in regards to suicide. I felt compelled to speak out as a caregiver of a spouse who has bipolar disorder.

There has been a lot of talk and backlash from the mental health community about the use of the word “selfish” in regards to suicide. I felt as though I had to speak out as the caregiver of a bipolar spouse. You may not agree with me but hopefully you will at least be able to understand my point of view.


I have discussed my husbands episodes with mania in quite vivid detail. It is much more difficult for me to relive the dark days of depression. My husband went into a very deep depression for about 5 months. At that time, I was working while he was off on long-term disability. It was very difficult to leave him during those days but I had no choice. Someone had to work.

We talked a lot and I kept the conversation very open. I thought he was telling me everything. He was not. One day I came home to find him sitting in the bathroom with one of our large butcher knives. I was shocked and very upset. Looking back, I should have known. The signs were there. He just never said the words. The very first thought that popped into my head was, “You selfish prick! How could you even think of doing this to me?” I never said it out loud.


Those of us that live and take care of someone who has a mental illness, know very well the pain and agony you go through everyday. We understand the depths of despair you must be in to consider taking your own life. We understand how ill you are and that you think that committing suicide is the only way to free yourself from the way you feel and think. We know that you feel that this is your last and only option.


There has been a lot of talk and backlash from the mental health community about the use of the word "selfish" in regards to suicide. I felt as though I had to speak out as the caregiver of a spouse who has bipolar disorder.

Is Suicide Selfish?

That said, we are the ones fighting for you, and with you. We are the ones in your corner, helping you everyday, and when you talk about taking your own life, we feel betrayed and hurt. Those are OUR honest emotions. We may “feel” you are being selfish. We can’t help how we feel anymore than you can’t help feeling depressed.


selfish (sel-fish) adjective

1. devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

2. characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself:selfish motives.


I looked at this definition and studied it. I came to one conclusion: that when we think it is you being selfish, it is in fact us being selfish. Because we want you here with us, no matter what we have to overcome together.


Disclaimer: I am not a therapist or a doctor. This post is based solely on my personal experiences and should not be deemed as advice or counsel. Please seek appropriate medical attention from a licensed professional.

Recommended Reading: (affiliate links)
Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner
Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder: A 4-Step Plan for You and Your Loved Ones to Manage the Illness and Create Lasting Stability
Bipolar Disorder: A Guide for Patients and Families

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  1. One of my work tried to commit suicide in front of me, I thought something was off and realised he was downing pills with booze.

    After seeing him into the ambulance I rang his wife and I couldn’t understand her very matter of fact attitude. Little did I know at the time it was a regular occurrence for her.

    I saw him a few years later and he had been diagnosed with bipolar, luckily for him they had found a drug that worked well for him which stabilised his condition. The were emigrating the very next day to start a new life.

    I thought his wife was a remarkable woman because of everything she did and how she was with him.

    You’re pretty remarkable too! I know how hard it is look after someone with a mental illness.

    1. The proper diagnosis and medication make a huge difference and impact towards having a stable and rewarding life. Thank you so much for visiting and sharing your story.

  2. I didn’t realize I had a typo there… not for but “from” selfishness.

    Anyway, I feel that it can be very challenging for people who have not experienced it to grasp so I don’t take it against them. I just hope for kindness and empathy.

  3. I have heard this many times… calling suicidal people selfish,a cop out, etc…
    Being a Psych Nurse and someone who has had depression in the past, I realized that I became more insightful and empathetic of their plight. I once was there. It’s not easy. I wouldn’t exactly call the caregiver being selfish for wanting the patient to fight. I’m sure our motives are pure and not coming for selfishness. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It is not an easy road for both.
    Thanks for this thought provoking post.

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