We Must Talk About Suicide
The suicides of 2 celebrities the first week of June was shocking to many people. Suicide is always shocking, but with celebrities-these people that have everything-it seems impossible. We sit in disbelief for the first week or so, then go about our business with a nagging thought in the back of our minds. That thought of, “Were there signs?”, “Should I have seen this coming?” Then after a few weeks, we forget-it no longer enters our minds on a regular basis. Save for the occasional Facebook mention or random news article that mentions their names, we rarely think about it.
I think about suicide a lot – not my own, thankfully, but how people get to that point. I have many clients who are, or have been suicidal; I have lost friends to suicide. There have been times in my life, many years ago, when I have wanted to die. I do not believe there is any shame in this fact and I think we need to talk about it more, or at least be more open about it. It is simply a fact of life that some people reach a point in their depression where they want to end their life, if we want them to continue living-we must talk about it.
Suicide is an extremely uncomfortable topic for many of us. It’s almost as if we fear that we’ll be putting the idea in someone’s head if we mention it, or we’ll be offending someone if we ask if they’re considering it. We even try to make it sound nicer with flowery language. Asking, “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?” Or “Have you been thinking about ending your life?” Or even “Do you ever think things would be better if you weren’t around?”, instead of just coming out with it.
Tip toeing around suicide conveys a message that it is shameful to think about it. In turn, this intensifies the belief for the suicidal person that they cannot share or open up about what they’re thinking-furthering their feelings of loneliness. If someone is not suicidal, asking them if they are thinking about killing themselves is not going to suddenly give them the idea they should do it. However, if someone is considering suicide-asking them will open the door to talk about it. It will help alleviate the embarrassment or shame they may be feeling.
There are different ways professionals classify suicidality. There is passive suicidal ideation, suicidal intent, suicidal gestures, etc. What these mean, in differing intensities, is that a person has a problem that they no longer know how to solve. That they feel trapped somehow, and that they only way to fix their problem is to die. Quite often, that problem is intense emotional discomfort. They are depressed, feel completely alone and believe they have no way to stop feeling like this. They may feel caught between the pain of continuing to feel so terrible and the pain of change. When this happens, there is a narrowing of what they can see in their life. The things others might see as reasons to live are no longer in their field of vision. All they see is the pain and a lack of a way out-other than death.
Please know there is help. If you believe a loved one might be considering suicide, talk to them. Encourage them to get help. If you are feeling suicidal, talk to someone – there are numerous hotlines to call if you feel you have no one to talk to. 1 800 SUICIDE or 1 800 273 TALK. You can even chat online by going to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ . If you’re dealing with depression recognize that it is possible for life to get better. Counseling can be a large part of that. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services to set up an appointment with one of our trained mental health professionals at 407-443-8862.