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A Suicide Prevention Letter You Can Write

The following article is offered in an effort to prevent someone’s suicide:

If someone you know is talking about helplessness or suicide, you would do well to write them a letter.  And if it’s you, write yourself a letter, and ask someone else to write you one too, saying something along these lines:

“Please keep this letter in your (wallet or purse), so that you can read it if you ever think you’ve thought of everything, you’ve tried everything and it still seems to you there’s no hope.  Stop here a minute and read first the article I’ve enclosed” [last week’s column, see last line below].

“If you think you’re all alone in your misery and no one cares, I beg you to stop running from your pain, shame and loneliness.  Listen to them instead, and let them teach you that you can’t make it alone, that we’re all as sick as our secrets, that continuing to live a lie is killing you, and that your life isn’t working the way you’re living it, so why not start it over?

Suicide would be a permanent response to a temporary situation.  Better to kill something else instead, such as your strong will/pride/ego, your sick relationships, or your bogus reasons for living (so you can choose some better ones).

Instead of killing your body and hope, why not kill those unrealistic little rules you live by, such as:  I must never let anybody know what I’ve done, what I’m thinking, how I feel.  I couldn’t stand to be a burden, or to be pitied, helped or found to be a fraud.  I can’t live with _______, and I can’t live without ________ either.  I can’t go on any longer by myself.  I’m sure my heartache will never end.

So how do you kill those parts of your life that are killing your desire to live?

1.  Tell somebody about it.

2.  Do everything they tell you to do, as much as your conscience will allow.

3.  If you can’t or won’t do all that, tell another person, and try your best to do what they say.

4.  Repeat step 3 as often as necessary until you can live with yourself again.

If you’re wondering, who cares?  and why bother?, apparently you haven’t yet realized that you are a huge blessing in my life.  Here are some things if I were you I would want to live for:  . . . .

I love the way you . . . .

I have benefited from the times you have . . . .

I will need you to be here for me in the future when . . . .

I’m not alone.  Others have told me (ask them!) you have been a blessing to them and they need you too:  . . . .  For each time we need you, your suicide would guarantee us a feeling of rejection and abandonment, but your getting help will make us happy right now and later.

Our society wouldn’t excuse a murder just because the killer claimed that he didn’t know how to stop wanting to do it, or that she didn’t know anyone she could turn to for help, and yet that is just what suicide is, murder, so there is no excuse.  Even a suicide attempt is a crime that gets the police involved.

We all have people who can get us the help we need to turn our attitude and our lives around, but we won’t know who they are until we ask them to give us time, hear us out, and then help us all they can.

When you’ve chosen someone to call, say something like this:  I don’t know how to solve my problems.  If you will help me, and hook me up with others to help me, I will tell all my secrets to somebody, confess who I can’t forgive (including myself) and tell why, seek to receive and believe the forgiveness of others, and ask what I can do to mend the good relationships I’ve broken.  I trust you to tell this only to people who will actively help me out, and who will keep what you’ve told them in private.  As an experiment to see if my life can be turned around, I will now do whatever I am told to do for a month.

If you read this letter and the attached article, do all you can, but you still believe suicide is the best for all concerned, don’t believe your feeling—that’s like trusting this decision to a child.  And don’t believe your thoughts either—that’s like trusting your life to a parent.  Trust your beliefs, in the most loving God you have ever experienced.  Just make sure your God has some skin on (helpers like me), or else you’re tying God’s hands behind him.

You owe it to yourself, your friends and your family to get some professional help first.  Go to suicideprevetionlifeline.org, befrienders.org, hopeline.com, or mayoclinic/health/suicide.

If you’ve tried all this, and you’re still there, you write me a letter, or leave me a recording.  Answer my reasoning point by point, or at least paragraph by paragraph.

And if that too hasn’t changed your mind, just know that I’m not going to carry around anger for your suicide, so I forgive you.  Before you go, why don’t you join me in that forgiveness?  It will make a big difference for lots of people.”

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About Dr. Paul Schmidt, PhD

Dr. Paul Schmidt, PhD is a psychologist life coach with offices in Louisville and Shelbyville, KY, 502 633 2860.