Suicide, The Ugly Enlightening Truth
Suicide. It is probably one of the ugliest most feared words in the English language. It's right up there with cancer. It destroys lives, many lives.
The loved ones left behind are full of questions.
'Why wasn't I enough?'
'Why didn't you love me or the kids enough to stay?'
'How could you take the easy way out?'
'What did I miss? I thought you were ok.'
'What could I have done differently?'
'Why didn't they say anything? I would have helped!'
'They weren't alone, how could they not know, they weren't alone?'
'Are they in a better place now, or worse?'
'Will I ever see them again in the hereafter?'
Those trying desperately to hold on have many questions too.
In the last month, I was posed with this question:
"Is it scarier to live or die? I'm not even sure at this point. I tried to commit suicide about 6 weeks ago. Since then I have been working so hard to get myself back on the right path. I just don't know how much longer I can keep going feeling so broken. I believe in reincarnation. Maybe next life things would be easier. I don't really want to keep living like this. I want to be stable and see my children grow up, but I just feel so done."
I wish I could say this was my only encounter with suicide - ever. But it's not even close. In the same month, I was asked by the friend of someone who attempted suicide if that person could have brought a demon back with them? They were smelling rotten eggs and sulfur, they had a black out experience and afterward they found strange photos on their phone and they were still depressed. In that very same month, I encountered a woman who was convinced that her husband, who'd been in therapy for years and on a slew of mental health medications had actually overdosed even though the coroner ruled it a suicide. She just could not accept the fact that he'd willingly done such a thing.
I wish I could say, that's the end of my story, but in that same suicide heavy month, I spent 4 hours in an online chat with an acquaintance that I hadn't seen or talked to in 3 years. For whatever reason, that day, they were suicidal and I'm the one they reached out to. I'm so glad they reached out, to someone, anyone. I'm happy to report that it's been a few weeks now, and they are getting their life together and doing much better.
I wish I could say, that's the end of my story, but there was a night, a few years ago, when my teenage son came to me, visibly shaken. He then proceeded to tell me that he just got off the phone with the police. He'd been talking online to a friend who was threatening to commit suicide. She then swallowed pills while talking to him. He called the police on another line and listened while they broke down her door and hauled her off to the hospital. He saved her life that night.
I wish I could say, that was it, just a few strangers in a long happy life. 5 months ago, my family was torn apart by a suicide threat. Not an attempt, not an actual suicide, just a threat. People's opinions on how to handle suicide differ so widely and hit such a deep nerve, just trying to handle such a situation tears apart relationships and lives. Suicide begs questions that don't always have clear answers. It's a family matter. It's private. Can we handle this on our own? If not, who do we tell? Is it just a cry for attention? Is there a bullying situation that can be addressed and fixed? Is it sadness or a chemical imbalance? Can the school help? If we tell the school, will they refuse to let the child come back? What does our religion say about it? Do we go to the doctor or hospital? Does this person need therapy? Or drugs? Do doctors and hospitals do more harm than good? Do medications do more harm than good? How will this affect the other children in the house? Maybe this person just wants attention? Do we ignore them? Don't feed the monster. But what if we're wrong?
I wish I could say, that's the end of my story. The reality is, I have bipolar. 30% of people with this diagnosis will successfully commit suicide. That number doesn't include those who tried but lived. My story might just end with suicide.
But, I'm not gone yet and while I'm still here, I have some things to say on the matter.
For Those Considering Suicide or Trying to Help Someone Who Is
First and foremost, it is ok to seek medical help. You might have a disorder that can be treated with medication and you'll feel better. If not, therapy has helped a lot of people, and really, what more do you have to lose then your life? Go to therapy. You don't have to do this alone.
There, I said it. The responsible, politically correct, "There's a hotline you can call", BS. I'm sure that hotline is staffed with really wonderful people doing really wonderful things for some people. I'm glad. But for those of you who could one day be the "loved one" left behind. You need to understand that for many of us, we look at that number and say to ourselves, when I am in that place, I will never pick up the phone and dial that number and spill my heart to a stranger. I'm going to say this another way, the existence of that number does not give you the freedom to shove it down someone else's throat and walk away from them guilt free. If you love them, you need to reach out. Again and again and again. That is the meaning of Unconditional Love. It is ugly, it is painful, it is there taking action even when it sucks.
The person who is depressed enough to consider suicide may be mentally and physically unable to pick up the phone and dial you or anyone else for help. In addition, they don't think they deserve your help or any of the good things in their life. They don't want to be a burden. The internal dialogue is painful and disheartening.
If you're thinking about committing suicide, give it another day. And then give it another day. And then give it another day. Emotions ebb and flow. The only constant in life is change. Today might be unbearable, tomorrow might be better.
Never, ever threaten to commit suicide to get attention. If you want attention, do something, anything else to get that attention. People who threaten to commit suicide for attention give other people the attitude and permission to ignore a real threat. That attitude will cost someone their life. You don't want that on your conscience or karma.
From a spiritual stand point, always rule out the practical first. The person who thought their friend brought back a demon was wrong. After asking a few questions, it turns out the person had medically diagnosed schizophrenia. Olfactory (smell) hallucinations are a thing. They weren't blacking out, they were having a schizophrenic episode. Mental health needs to be taken seriously. Their friend needed a doctor not an exorcism.
For those who think suicide is an escape, and that a new life or the hereafter might be a better existence. I believe we are all here to learn. It doesn't matter how many lifetimes it takes, you don't move on to lesson 5 until you pass lesson 4. To be bluntly honest, that belief is sometimes the only thing that gets me through a bad spell. Death is never an escape, just a bigger learning curve.
For the Survivors, The Loved Ones Left Behind
I am saddened by your loss and pain and send my sympathies and prayers. While I've not had the honor of meeting you or your loved one, I would like to share my own experience with bi-polar depression. Maybe it will help you make some sense out of what may have happened. I'm not about to say all depressions are the same, and bi-polar is different from other metal illnesses, but maybe this will help anyway. When I have been in my deepest depressions, it has been like sitting outside myself watching someone else, someone who hates me, take control. There is a part of me (the sane part, that loves myself and everyone around me) that is watching, consciously watching what is going on, but doesn't have power or control. The one in the depression driver seat doesn't care about me, my kids, my husband. I can sit there and scream at the depression in my head, "Don't do this!" It won't work, it doesn't care. If I were to try to commit suicide while in that kind of state, there would be a piece of me crying and screaming that I love myself, I love my family, I don't want to die. No one would hear that piece. So far, that piece has succeeded in breaking through - regaining control, at least long enough to ask for help. But I understand, that there could be a day, where the good piece, the me piece doesn't win. It wouldn't mean I loved any less. It wouldn't mean the me piece gave up. Sadly, it would just mean the me piece wasn't strong enough or fast enough that day to beat the depression piece. And it also wouldn't mean that anyone around me dropped the ball or missed a sign, because my depression piece is very good at hiding. It would NOT be anyone's fault any more than it is anyone's fault if cancer beats a body. Suicide is an illness that sometimes wins. I don't know if this helps you find any peace, but I pray that you find your peace in some way. Blessed Be.