A friend of mine took his own life at a very young age several years ago. It forced me to think about this very topic — in this very way. I came to the same conclusion as you.
I have always heard that people’s greatest fear is a fear of the unknown. And there is nothing more unknown than what happens to us when we die. So it seems oddly paradoxical to claim that suicide is cowardly.
The other thing that I think people forget in assessing suicide is that an act can be both courageous and hurtful. Yes, killing yourself hurts others. It hurts those who were depending on you, those who loved you, etc. But that doesn’t mean it was cowardly. It doesn’t mean that it was an easy choice, either. All it means is that people got hurt — and people don’t like getting hurt. Oddly, that’s probably the one commonality that could help those impacted by suicide reconcile feelings about those who committed suicide.
I think about the topic of suicide from time to time — never as an action I’m looking to take, but as something that I want to understand. My hope is that we as people — and then we as societies — look at suicide from that same standpoint: to understand. Ideally, we would look at all non-circumstantial violent acts that way: school-shootings, terrorist acts, etc. We keep treating the symptoms, but never addressing the diseases. Perhaps it helps us feel busier, which helps us feel like we’re doing more. I’m unsure.
What I am sure of is that compassion, and a true desire to understand as a default position on anything is rarely going to end up badly in long-run.