What stops a person from killing himself?

My son, Charles, wrote this as part of his rap song, Hell on Earth.

Live with meaning before death forever
Eternal darkness,
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.

Life reasons.

Fear reasons.

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.

  1. Talk to them in private
  2. Listen to their story
  3. Tell them you care about them
  4. Ask directly if they are thinking about suicide
  5. Encourage them to seek treatment or to contact their doctor or therapist
  6. Avoid debating the value of life, minimizing their problems or giving advice
  7. If a person says they are considering suicide
  8. Take the person seriously
  9. Stay with them
  10. Help them remove lethal means 
  11. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  12. Text TALK to 741741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7
  13. Escort them to mental health services or an emergency room

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To those who think, ‘I’m not qualified to talk to someone who is suicidal’

 

 

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am the mother of two boys and the owner of emotionally naked, a site that reached a quarter million people in its first 18 months. I am a writer and professional public speaker on the topics of suicide, addiction, mental illness, and grief and my book, Diary of a Broken Mind, will be published in the fall. I lost my youngest son, Charles, 20, to suicide June 5, 2015. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website

5 thoughts on “What stops a person from killing himself?”

  1. I’ll never forget when my husband just held me. I couldn’t get the words out. I was walking out the door because I planned on taking the car and ending my life. I wanted to get the vehicle up to a high rate of speed and go off the overpass on to the interstate. I figured, that would do it.

    But that day, my husband just held me in his arms, not letting me go. He didn’t ask for details. He didn’t try to tell me I was wrong or right. He just held me in silence and love and acceptance. I cried for what seemed like the longest time.

    In that moment, I just needed to be shown I was accepted and loved and wanted. Those are my biggest demons that I struggle to comprehend.

    1. That one had me in tears, Don. You need to publish a post about that. I can put a link to your blog/new book at the end. That is such a beautiful example of connection and love and how that simple act can prevent suicide. We need people like you—deep feelers With passion or otherwise our world will be too bland. Thank you.

        1. I, myself, have never had those thoughts. It’s just talking to those who have through this site that I have learned so much. And from talking to people during ideation and from my training. And before I had this site I can’t say support for the topic was pretty pathetic. What’s more when I did talk about Charles people would cut me off. I wanted to remember him. But people with lived experience will find support here. And people who have lost someone they love will too. This site is about being emotionally naked and letting others know they matter. Your comments and insight always appreciated.

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