The following article is offered in an effort to prevent someone’s suicide:
There’s a man I have admired and wanted to meet for some time. He has helped lots of my clients, he’s written a book, and he has had widespread exposure in the media. He’s in my field, and takes a very similar approach to his work and (I thought) his personal life. Last week he killed himself.
Also last week, I read with alarm an article on “the rising tide of suicide”, with Louisville hotline calls up 22% last year, suicides up 14% a year for the last four, and with hotline calls up nationwide 38% last year. I hope and pray the words I offer here will prevent a suicide or two, and guide a few souls to turn their lives around.
My late colleague had problems of course like all who suicide. His were medical, emotional, financial, and family, but he had apparently pretty much stopped working on them. His 12-step home group hadn’t seen him for many months, and all his other problems were made worse by chemical and behavioral addiction.
Too many folks with diseases don’t work very hard at getting healthy again. Too many with addictions don’t keep working their program, and too many with problems don’t do what they know it would take to solve them. To recover from any of these situations we need to humble ourselves to do what we’re told, and discipline ourselves to live within prescribed limits. Those who kill themselves most always had plenty of chances to get the guidance and support to straighten out their lives, but they were too proud to admit their need for help, and too lazy to do the work.
Everybody needs to know a few things about suicide. It is a crime, and not a victim-less crime by any means. The victims of suicide are the survivors, not the perpetrators, who after all are murderers.
Suicide works just like other forms of abuse and neglect. It deeply wounds other people, and makes its victims more likely to become perpetrators themselves, thereby extending the cycle and legacy to another generation.
Self-killers often anesthetize their pre-game guilt by reasoning that their loved ones will be better off without them. After suicide, THAT NEVER HAPPENS.
Your victim-survivors would be haunted by your ghosts. One ghost is nagging doubt about what they could or should have done to help or save you. Another ghost is undermining doubt about their strength and self-worth. Yet another haunts survivors with the temptation to check out of their own lives through the coward’s exit, the one you had used, the suicide trap door in the floor
Our bodies don’t know any more about what they need than a child does. Better to kill the ego than to kill the body. Taking your resentments out on your body is like punishing a child who just doesn’t know better.
If you know someone who might be struggling now or later with thoughts of suicide, their own or somebody else’s, invite them to read the words above out loud in your presence, and tell you what they think and feel about them. Then you will at least know they have an inoculation against the suicide virus.
And for extra protection for both of you, in my next column, I will give a detailed outline of a personal letter you can write to anyone who struggles with depression and suicide. It will provide them with insights beyond these today, personalized words of affirmation and appreciation, and specific reasons for living that apply directly to their situation.