Why did my dad kill himself? Didn’t he love me?

To be clear, my father did not die by suicide. My son Charles did but this is a question I hear often. Why would a dad who had children take his life? Why would a mom kill herself when she has children? How could a parent not realize what their death by suicide might do to their child? How could my dad (or mom) leave me like that?

The problem is that people think of suicide as a choice

The myth of suicide is that someone is pondering their future and decides to take the easy way out and end it all instead of working through whatever adversity they are facing. That’s where the notion of “suicide being selfish” comes in.

But that’s not what suicidal thinking is at all.

It’s more irrational, invasive and intense, usually the result of mental illness, addiction, head injury, physical illness or trauma.

That moment is not selfish. It’s desperate.

That’s why suicide is considered a death of despair. Over time, people get worn down from fighting those thoughts which on average can last anywhere from twenty minutes to 2.5 hours. I’ve worked with hundreds in active suicidal intensity and when they come out of it, it’s like they’ve woken up from a trance.

So the question is often asked, “Weren’t they thinking about their children?” Often they are not because they are experiencing a kind of tunnel vision. When the thought of family does come to mind, they are in the frame of mind where they think they are a burden.

The following is an excerpt from a comment by a woman traumatized her whole life by a narcissistic mother and still struggling to find peace and heal. At the time she was suicidal and came to this site to find out how to write a letter to her husband and two children.

“I was on the hunt for inspiration to help me articulate a letter to my loved ones that would help them understand that my choice to cut out early is not cowardly at all but rather, to save them the pain and agony of having to live with and withstand the burden of me any longer. They deserve better and would all be much happier without me. My kids especially. They are great kids and deserve a great mom. I’ll never be able to give them that.”

The following is an excerpt from a letter a mom left for her daughter. It might help you understand how intense, irrational, and convincing that moment is for the person suffering.

“She deserves so much better than the mom I can be for her. How can l explain that the worst possible thing I can do to her is the only way to give her the life that I had but couldn’t hold onto…..She deserves so much more.”

This one from Debbie. As a side note, Debbie is from the U.K. and comes back every six months to let me know she’s gotten treatment and doing better.

“I have suffered from depression since I was 19. I’m 45 now I can not go on like this anymore I’ve got a 13 yr old son who has autism ADHD. I’m a rubbish mom I hate myself….i do feel he will have a good life without me. Cruel i know but it’s not fair. if i tell my mental health doc they will take him. I’m not emotionally fit …. He deserves to be with a good family”

This from a young man with whom I corresponded for a while and finally got treatment and started to recover. The nature of the disease and our culture often prevents the person from seeking help.

“I see suicide as bad but I’m starting to see why it’s like at some point I won’t be able to care anymore about how it would make my family feel. It doesn’t matter how tough I think I am. It just gets to you and I feel like I want it to stop so badly I’ll do anything in that moment.”

I want you to know that moms and dads don’t “do this” to their children. They do it to themselves and in that moment cannot fathom what it would do to others. Tunnel vision takes over in that moment of suicidal intensity.

I’m asking you not to judge or blame but to learn more and talk about suicide. Only then will people suffering be more willing to ask for help. Only then will we be able to prevent children from losing a parent or visa versa.

Great Free Resource: Children, Teens & Suicide Loss– This guide includes age-appropriate scripts on what to tell a child who has lost a parent or loved one.

Published by

AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

2 thoughts on “Why did my dad kill himself? Didn’t he love me?”

  1. It is the idea of this trance like state that frightens me “the most.” (I’ve got a lot of deep fears and it’s hard to rank them.) Because suicide is such a an act of desperation in such an irrational state, it makes me feel ultimately helpless, despite all of mental wellness measures me and my family take. All it takes is one moment, one reckless act, for everything to be destroyed.

    I didn’t know about your work with people in the midst of an active suicidal state. Can you share more about that?

    1. Some of them come from google. Some of them come from email. Some text. And still others are in person. Some will indicate on their forms during training. I am not always seeing them in real time because I am one person.

      The ultimate goal for our lives one is to create a plan when things are going well and everyone is lucid and to tell the brain to rely on that safety plan when they are not well. That’s how the army works. They train. And when soldiers are gripped with Adrenalin they rely on the training. It’s never 100% but I have learned that telling your brain how to act in a crisis does work. So here is a bare bones safety plan. And a letter a friend wrote that she reads when she struggles. It sounds a little too simple but those googling how to hang themselves and landing on a page I set up to divert their attempt, do actually download it all the time. It important though not to extract promises for a loved one not to kill themselves. That was the old way and adds shame to a confusing and scary state of mind. But we do want the person struggling to help In rational thought to create some kind of safety plan when those feelings hit. https://annemoss.com/2018/12/31/why-should-i-stay-alive-when-i-want-to-kill-myself/ https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Brown_StanleySafetyPlanTemplate.pdf

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