According to the World Health Organization, close to 800,000 people die by suicide every year. It can be a slippery slope from depression to suicide, and so while I do not know a lot about suicide, I suffer from depression and so I feel I can envision at least a little of what “might” go into the mind of an individual who ends his or her life. Since September is Suicide Awareness Month, it is a good time to discuss this all-too-common affliction.
One key, I believe is “hope.” We all need hope in life, and as a depression sufferer I know hope keeps me going a LOT at times. Hope because we have loved ones who rely on us. Hope because those of us who suffer from depression are confident things WILL get better.
But take away hope, then what? A good friend of mine took his life in 2008, and I believe it was at least partially due to his feeling he did not have any hope. He did not feel there was any hope for his gravely ill wife (sadly, turns out there was), and he did not feel he had any hope in switching careers because he needed the terrific health benefits his job required to pay for his wife’s ailments. There were likely other factors, but those seemed to be clearly among them.
I am not a clinician, as I noted, but I don’t think anyone can say for sure why a particular person chooses to die. The helplessness and hopelessness that often leads to suicide may arise from any number of factors, but I think they DID play into it in my friend’s case.
Courtesy of someone more qualified than myself – an employee assistance director in Wisconsin – let’s refute a few of the myths about suicide.
* A person who threatens suicide won’t really follow through. Not true. People who commit suicide often talk about ending their lives before they actually make an attempt.
* No one I know is the type to commit suicide. The truth is that suicide occurs among people of all types. Whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts can plague anyone. They are legitimate mental health concerns that require appropriate action.
* Only insane people commit suicide. People who commit suicide may feel hopeless and depressed, but they have not necessarily lost touch with reality.
* Talking about suicide might give the person ideas. Suicidal people already have “the idea.” Frankly, talking about it can prevent the person from acting on it. It shows that you take this person seriously and that you care.
* People who commit suicide really want to die. A small number may want to die, but the majority simply want the pain to stop. They’ve given up hope that they can stop it, or that anyone can help them. (There goes that key word, “hope” again.)
Toll free hotlines include the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at 800-950-6264, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255.
To learn more about this important topic, check out https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/