When a loved one takes their life, those that are left behind are left grieving and asking themselves a lot of questions. One of the sad parts of a person choosing to end their life is that they can not answer the questions that their loved ones want to ask them. Their loved ones have to wonder if they could have done anything differently or reached out to help and maybe avoided the tragedy.
Even when a person who has taken their life leaves a note, with an explanation, there is always more questions than the note could have answered and the note does little to relive those left behind of their tremendous grief.
People who’ve survived sui*cide attempts have reported wanting not so much to die as to stop living, a strange dichotomy but a valid one nevertheless. If some in-between state existed, some other alternative to death, I suspect many suicidal people would take it. For the sake of all those reading this who might have been left behind by someone’s sui*cide, I wanted to describe how I was trained to think about the reasons people kill themselves. They’re not as intuitive as most think.
In general, people try to [end their lives]for six reasons:
- They’re depressed. This is without question the most common reason people commit sui*cide. Severe depression is always accompanied by a pervasive sense of suffering as well as the belief that escape from it is hopeless. The pain of existence often becomes too much for severely depressed people to bear. The state of depression warps their thinking, allowing ideas like “Everyone would all be better off without me” to make rational sense. They shouldn’t be blamed for falling prey to such distorted thoughts any more than a heart patient should be blamed for experiencing chest pain: it’s simply the nature of their disease. Because depression, as we all know, is almost always treatable, we should all seek to recognize its presence in our close friends and loved ones. Often people suffer with it silently, planning sui*cide without anyone ever knowing. Despite making both parties uncomfortable, inquiring directly about [email protected] thoughts in my experience almost always yields an honest response. If you suspect someone might be depressed, don’t allow your tendency to deny the possibility of [email protected] ideation prevent you from asking about it.
- They’re psychotic. Malevolent inner voices often command self-destruction for unintelligible reasons. Psychosis is much harder to mask than depression, and is arguably even more tragic. The worldwide incidence of schizophrenia is 1% and often strikes otherwise healthy, high-performing individuals, whose lives, though manageable with medication, never fulfill their original promise.