More than 44,000 Americans kill themselves each year, according to the American Society for Suicide Prevention. Another 25 failed suicide attempts for every successful suicide are made annually. Do the math: 1,100,000 people per year feel some sort of misery so intensely that they’d prefer death rather than life.
Let’s look at some of the issues regarding suicide in order to better understand why it can’t solve problems and actually creates others.
Who Kills Themselves?
The American Association of Suicidology (the study of suicide) infographics page reveals that suicide and suicidal efforts happen across the USA’s social spectrum. Inner agony is not limited to people with specific demographics. There’s even more to consider with the question “Is ’13 Reasons Why’ Helping Kids Kill Themselves?”
The Suicide Paradox
Suicide doesn’t solve depression or the problems preceding it, though that’s a suicidal person’s goal. Suicide creates more problems, sometimes inflicting depression in the survivors whom the dead person wished to hurt or to spare from further pain. In either case, do-overs are impossible, even if the desired effects didn’t happen. Suicide is paradoxical; the end to someone’s struggle with problems that they didn’t finesse, a situation in which they’ll never know if they achieved associated goals. Living and traumatized victims of suicidal efforts, however, might suffer lifelong sadness and regret.
Suicide isn’t a do-over, either. The dead person simply stopped dealing with the issues that they found agonizing. Relatives, colleagues, fellow students, neighbors, friends, and anybody who ever interacted with the person dead by their own hand, however, are left with those painful issues, plus heartache and perhaps guilt about not having prevented the death.
Suicidal ideation, the phenomena of considering suicide, can go several ways, none of which improve anyone’s life:
- The person considering suicide never attempts it.
- The person plans a suicidal effort with all seriousness, taking care to make sure the effort succeeds.
- The person carries out the suicidal idea as a test run to realize its effects on acquaintances.
- The person succeeds in their suicidal effort, but is rescued and survives. Potential repercussions to such scenarios are too numerous to address in this overview.
- The person dies at their own initiative.
It is imperative that anyone feeling suicidal or dealing with a suicidal individual seek out competent mental health therapy. The insight and emotional relief from such therapy can make life look realistically appealing again. They can save lives, too.
In addition to the above, many suicidal people and their survivors suffer spiritual crises, wondering how an allegedly compassionate GOD, Who solves problems for humanity, could let someone end their life and experience all the misery preceding the event. A sense of deserved or undeserved guilt, self-doubt, and other painful emotions might also be involved. Feelings of resentment and anger with GOD can feel raw. Being stuck with a mess that the survivors don’t deserve and tried to prevent is a unique torture. Life thus seems pointless or painful. GOD does, too. The moral or immoral value of suicide can seem painfully arbitrary exactly when spiritual succor is most needed.
Bewildered, spiritually challenged and in despair, self-conscious survivors eventually can also feel guilty for the emotional muddle filling their hearts and minds. It disturbs their confidence in GOD and their relationship with Her/Him. The entire balance of life, and confidence in one’s skills for coping with it, seems to crash.
Anger at the self for contemplating suicide, or at the deceased for provoking the survivors’ emotional wreckage, becomes part a vicious cycle. Clergy skilled in mental health therapy can be a godsend to such individuals. They and other mental health professionals are keenly aware of the downward cognitive and emotional cascades in people living past someone else’s successful or attempted suicide. It is important for these contacts to connect with therapists able to help them past unwarranted self-recriminations, to identify and to rectify problematic patterns of behavior, and to develop soothing mindsets.
The only person not suffering anymore is the dead person. What often shatters the people left behind is a conjoined spiritual and emotional pain for all the joy that will never be felt nor shared, all the potential for a better future that can never be realized.
Worse yet are the clinical terms used in therapy. They seem cruel for their lack of empathy, cut off from the sufferer’s reality. Many people complain of the apparent disconnect. It takes time and more emotional upheaval to realize that impartial stances allow sufferers to minimize their angst, to view issues on their own merit, or lack of it, rather than as justifications for anything. It takes practice to understand that searing pain it doesn’t legitimate self-imposed death.
An Overview Lacks Necessary Depth
It’s hard to do an adequate job of explaining the ramifications of suicide in one article. Some of those ramifications include suicidal threats which are merely cunning ploys for manipulating listeners into doing what the con artist wants. Competent therapists can help people to sort out opportunistic, manipulative threats of suicide from the real thing. Suicidal threats which are genuine warrant appropriate awareness and compassion, plus specific mental health interventions. Mental health professionals can offer guidelines about how best to deal with either scenario.
A valuable idea to take away from therapy for the depression which leads to suicidal thinking is this: An impartial but compassionate counselor can help you to envision and to pursue a future worth living for.
That therapist can help the suicidal person to appreciate the agony that their behavior would cause to defenseless, innocent survivors. Therapy can lead to an appreciation for the potential harm to anyone responsible for inflicting the misery which led a person to kill him or herself. The value in that is manifold. The depressed person can see life with a different perspective. That perspective might be one that precludes causing harm to innocents and to oneself. It might be a perspective that highlights the futility of inflicting emotional revenge on wrongdoers who might never change anyway. That can be a powerful deterrent to suicidal people wishing to avenge themselves on someone.
Another perspective could highlight the inability to know if life could have been better if the suicidal person were to live past a specific challenge. Other possibilities exist, but they are too numerous to explain in an overview.
Yocheved Golani is a popular writer whose byline has appeared worldwide in print and online. A certified Health Information Management professional, she is a member of Get Help Israel. Certified in Spiritual Chaplaincy (End of Life issues) and in counseling skills, her life coaching for ill people puts healthy perspective into a clients’ success plan for achieving desired goals.