The following post deals heavily with the definition, ideation, and planning of suicide. If this is a trigger for you, please, exit this page now.
41,000 Americans commit suicide every year. In my honest opinion, that’s 41,000 more than I can handle. It’s 41,000 suicides too many.
Each year, individuals, men and women alike, reach a point in their lives where death becomes the greatest, and only option. When the person(s) do(es) inevitably take their life, they leave a trail of horrendous pain in their wake. Questions then typically ensue.
“How could they have been so selfish?”
“Didn’t they know they weren’t alone?”
“We never knew anything was wrong. Why didn’t they say anything?”
In and of themselves, these questions seem like the right ones to ask. They ascertain to become comfort hidden within questioning. All they truly reveal is an ignorance of the subject. That isn’t to be rude, it’s simply the truth.
I will rightly agree when someone says that these questions are normal to ask. Where I will disagree, however, is when they presume their questions to be scriptural. As in, they take their questions and formulate an improper perception of the now deceased individual.
Why? Why would I disagree? Well, once again I will simply point you to the above paragraph. When those questions transform into twisted truth, they become a coping mechanism instead of foundational comfort. There’s a way to realize the “why’s” of someone’s suicide and there are many ways to prevent future ones. Let’s take a few moments to dive in to each question.
1.) “How could they have been so selfish?”
This question represents a vast majority of people’s thought processes. Do I blame them for thinking this? No. Do I think it is wrong? Absolutely. I used to be someone who had the same kind of mental assumptions but I’ve now been to this incredible place of darkness. My viewpoint and assumptions about suicide have completely changed.
Someone doesn’t commit suicide to end their life. They commit suicide to end their pain.
It’s an incredible tragedy when an individual reaches a point of saying that death is the only viable “way out.” Those who suffer with mental illnesses operate out of a mindset full of lies. Thoughts that enter their mind may include:
- “They’re better off without you”
- “You’re just a burden to everyone you come across”
- “You don’t deserve them. They have it all together. Look at you. Pathetic.”
Someone who thinks about suicide, or god forbid, commits it, doesn’t do so in an attempt to get your attention. You’ll know someone is looking for help when they admit to you their suicidal ideation. The ones who are vocal are usually the ones who aren’t as committed to seeing it through. In most cases, the ones who are silent have become well acquainted with their fate and have accepted their impending death.Here’s what we should take away from this:
Suicide is the only feasible option to end their pain and rid society of the burden that seems to be their life.
2.) “Didn’t they know that they weren’t alone?”
My short response to that understandable question is this: no, they didn’t. I try not to operate out of a bias here but I can’t help it. Odds are, the reason they didn’t know that they weren’t alone was because no one ever told them. Now, I’m not advocating that the blame be placed on the surviving members of the deceased victim. I am, however, advocating for more of an awareness in this area. “How can you know if someone is going to kill themselves?” is probably the next question on your mind. I’m glad you asked! Here are a few starter points:
- Analyze their personality. If someone is usually outgoing, have you noticed a recent withdrawal? If someone is usually quieter, have you noticed them begin acting unusually? Simply because someone begins exhibiting characteristics contrary to their foundational personality doesn’t mean suicide is on the horizon. What it does mean is this: Something is happening in their life, whether good or bad, and this is a prime opportunity for you to take notice. Ask!
- Have they begun mentioning death in passing? No matter who you are, death isn’t much of a dinner table kind of conversation piece; especially in the form of suicide. Keep your eyes peeled if you begin hearing a loved one begin mentioning death every so often. Once again, this doesn’t mean suicide is on the horizon. This is one of those chances to pour into someone’s life and just ask! See a patter beginning to form?
- Web searches, while hard to control or even know about, are also another pivotal piece of the puzzle. Many people will Google ways to kill themselves without creating a mess. If you happen to notice any unusual behavior from a loved one, take for instance the examples above, spend some time going through the most recent web searches. I’m not advocating for paranoia but I am saying that if you believe someone is planning on suicide, persistence is key.
That is by no means an exhaustive list. In fact, it doesn’t even scratch the surface. My basic point in saying all of that is to be a proponent for real life relationship. That means going out of your way to involve yourself in someone else’s life. It means asking someone how they’re doing and really meaning it. It also means being willing to step out of your comfort zone to help someone you love. Speak up, speak out, and let someone know you care.
I would address the third question I portrayed at the beginning of the post but I believe, and hope, you have gained the answer. Suicide is not someone’s first choice, it is their last resort. It, as I said above, is an incredible tragedy when someone reaches this level of hopelessness and pain.
Take the time today to invest in someone’s life. Step away from the computer and look into someone’s eyes. Have a real conversation with them! Dig in to the nitty-gritty aspects of life. Make sure that they know they’re not alone.
If you are the one dealing with suicidal thoughts I want you to know that you are indeed not alone. There are so many people who care about you and want to help. I may not know you but I know that you have incredible worth. Contact me and I will walk with you through that pain. I’ll weep, laugh, stay up all night if I have to. You are worth so much more than this.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
Have any insight? Questions? Suggestions? I’d love to hear them! Comment below! Help the stigma of Mental Illness end by sharing this post with your friends and engage them in the conversation!