- The taking of ones own life.
- Killing one’s self.
- Dying by one’s own actions.
- Causing one’s self to die purposely.
Whatever the definition; it’s permanent.
I’m sure most people, at one time or another, have participated in a discussion or debate about the issue of suicide. From my experience, both personal and professional (as I work in the mental health field) it is not an issue that is taken lightly by most. I’ve heard both extremes and pretty much everything in between, but I’ll just share highlights; it’s selfish, cowardly, the easy way out, a sin; to some it should be a person’s legal choice in certain situations and it should be a person’s choice and right at all times.
I’m sure you noticed that leaves just a bit of gray area in between. It also leaves out most importantly; the people whose lives have been devastated and permanently changed by the suicide of a loved one, the many reasons why people might/do attempt/complete suicide and the different states of mind people are/might be in when they attempt/complete suicide. I will definitely address these issues, but first I’d like to give you a few statistics.
According to the National Mental Health Association:
- 32,000 people commit suicide in the U.S. each year.
- Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death annually in the U.S.
- Suicide is the 4th leading cause of death annually in people age 18 – 65 years old in the U.S.
- For every 25 suicide attempts 8 are completed.
- Women attempt suicide twice the amount of times men attempt suicide.
- For every one woman that commits suicide; four men will have committed suicide.
- The suicide rate among people with Bipolar Disorder is 15 %, which is 30 times higher than that of the average population.
- People with Bipolar Disorder are at a 5 % lifetime risk for suicide.
As alarming as these statistics may be, they are very quite likely to be higher. Not all suicide attempts are reported and the medical community has acknowledged that there is always a slight margin for error and its possible, but not likely, that on rare occasion a death that is ruled accidental might be a death by suicide.
I want to make sure it’s completely understood that I am in no way attempting to besmirch, taint or malign the Medical Community, any Medical Examiners Department or any Law Enforcement/Investigative Agency. We are all human and therefore mistakes are inevitable.
Ok, now down to the nitty gritty of this post. I knew this post might be a “bit” emotional to write, but SHIZA!! (naughty word in German…ours starts with same letter).
First let me say that I have lost someone very near and dear to my heart to suicide. I’m afraid I’m going to have to be extremely vague in regards to just about everything about this person. Even after close to a decade this person’s family is still in denial and won’t even acknowledge the fact that it was a suicide and not an accident.
I honestly did not realize just how agonizingly difficult it was going to be to verbalize the many complex aspects of suicide and what frame of mind a person is in when they are suicidal.
I’m going to do my best to explain that frame of mind I mentioned. You see, the thing is, this is not coming from anything I’ve read, what others or any of my patients have expressed to me, it’s coming straight from the source: myself.
I have been suicidal and have attempted suicide more than once. The details such as the how’s and when’s are not important, what is important that I help you gain some insight into why people attempt/commit suicide.
Severe depression causes a pain that is almost indescribable to explain. It’s just about impossible for a person to comprehend this pain if they have never experienced this type of depression. It’s a pain that is both emotional and physical. It’s a pain that is tormenting, agonizing, unbearable and it is unrelentless. It makes you unable to think, concentrate or focus on anything but the pain and making it go away. It completely overpowers your ability to form any type of rational thought. It chases away any sanity you might have; you are in an absolute irrational state of mind. You honestly and truly believe that you are worthless, you believe that you are the worst kind of burden to all loved ones, family and friends, you believe everyone and society would be so much better off with you gone. Please do not mistake this for self- pity. You believe with all certainty that you are actually helping others if you are gone. YOU JUST WANT THE PAIN TO GO AWAY!
Of course in a rational state of mind we know all of this is not true. The suicide of a loved one causes such hideous pain. It causes guilt. It is devastating. It shatters people. It haunts.
Please, if you know someone who is or might be suicidal, go to him or her. Do not leave them alone. Acknowledge their feelings but reassure them they are loved, wanted and a worthwhile person. Chances are they won’t believe you continue to reassure them anyway. Whatever you do, DO NOT berate or criticize. Keep this person safe anyway you can. If this means involuntary hospitalization do not hesitate to call 911 for help.
For most who are suicidal, the thoughts will pass, but they will continue to need treatment and unconditional love and support. For some however, these suicidal thoughts can be intermittent and continuous for years. You can only do your best to help and support them. To keep them safe.
Suicide is the most viable option to a person that is suicidal. They are not trying to hurt others or be selfish.
Education and awareness that there is help is so very vital and important.
I sincerely hope that in some way I have provided some insight and understanding of what a person is feeling and thinking when suicidal.
The next time you know someone who is suicidal or know someone or anyone for that matter that has committed suicide please, don’t be so quick to judge, that’s all I really ask of you.
Thank you with all my heart for taking the time to read this.
If you are thinking about harming yourself, or know someone who is, we advise you to get help immediately.
You can get help by doing one of the following:
- Call your doctor.
- Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room to get immediate help or ask a friend or family member to help you do these things.
- Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor.
Make sure you or the suicidal person is not left alone.