My son, Charles, wrote this as part of his rap song, Hell on Earth.
Live with meaning before death forever
peace at last,
no more hardships
Hard to comprehend in the human mind
Impossible to envision leaving yourself behind
Many people comment here about suicide and some while they are feeling the worst hurt of their lives and contemplating how to end their own life.
The two reasons people don’t kill themselves fall into two categories.
The life reasons have to do with children, spouses, parents, pets, and friends. The suicidal person doesn’t want to hurt those who love them. Charles would put pictures of his family up on the wall of wherever he was to remind him why he didn’t follow through with what his brain was telling him to do.
That doesn’t mean that if your loved one died by suicide they didn’t love you enough. Or you didn’t love them back enough. It just means the intense and unrelenting emotional and or physical pain was too much during the episode of suicidal thought and their brain convinced them no one would care.
So think of it this way. You slammed your thumb in a locked car door. You are standing there in severe pain trying to figure out how to get the thumb out and stop the pain. Someone comes up to you and asks directions to a place you go every day. But you can’t answer or concentrate because the pain is so excruciating. All you want is out of that car door. All you want is for the hurt to stop. And until that lets up you are incapable of focusing on anything else.
Fear reasons have to do with wondering if it will hurt, leave oneself blind, paralyzed, disfigured, in a vegetative state, or otherwise disabled.
Then there is religious fear of living in hell or being reincarnated to an awful life. The fear that the act itself will be painful and difficult is also a strong deterrent. Who wouldn’t be afraid of all these things?
So when someone is thinking of suicide and mentions these things, agree with them.
“Yes, that will hurt.”
“What do you think could happen?”
These fears are deterrents to suicide.
If you suffer thoughts of suicide, ask yourself this question when you are not in suicidal ideation and write a letter to yourself reminding you of these fears. Include hotline numbers. Make it easy to access that letter when you are struggling.
Being with, listening, and asking questions is part of supporting someone who “has their thumb slammed in the door and can’t get it out yet.” Think about how many times a person has gone through these episodes without completing it and what strength and determination that must take to fight a brain that has turned against the person hosting it.
Questions to ask (Source: Mayo Clinic)
The first step is to find out whether the person is in danger of acting on suicidal feelings. Be sensitive, but ask direct questions, such as:
- How are you coping with what’s been happening in your life?
- Do you ever feel like just giving up?
- Are you thinking about dying?
- Are you thinking about hurting yourself?
- Are you thinking about suicide?
- Have you ever thought about suicide before, or tried to harm yourself before?
- Have you thought about how or when you’d do it?
- Do you have access to weapons or things that can be used as weapons to harm yourself?
What to do (Source: American Foundation of Suicide Prevention)
If you think someone is thinking about suicide, assume you are the only one who will reach out. Here’s how to talk to someone who may be struggling with their mental health.
- Talk to them in private
- Listen to their story
- Tell them you care about them
- Ask directly if they are thinking about suicide
- Encourage them to seek treatment or to contact their doctor or therapist
- Avoid debating the value of life, minimizing their problems or giving advice
- If a person says they are considering suicide
- Take the person seriously
- Stay with them
- Help them remove lethal means
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Text TALK to 741741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7
- Escort them to mental health services or an emergency room
- If you want to understand suicide, this book is recommended by licensed counselor, Karla Helbert, LPC: How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me: One Person’s Guide to Suicide Prevention
- Suicide and grief resources on this site are here