The Suicide Myth

The Truth about Suicide

Individuals, who struggle with a mental illness,
lose their lives long before they choose to end them physically.
They DO NOT “commit” suicide; they seek to “end” their pain.

Individuals, who struggle with mental disorders, are often further irritated by campaigns to “Prevent” Suicide.  These Band-aids may mask the pain and guilt for friends and families, but they will not eliminate the enduring pain of those whose suffering has created irreparable damage.

The  rational way to make a difference is to get to the root of the problem…which requires us to practice preventative medicine, acknowledge and accept others’ pain, eliminate stigma, and provide support before mental illness has the chance to take root deep inside someone’s soul.

Eliminate the Stigma

Promote Inclusion

There is nothing you can say or do when a person’s pain is so great that the only imaginable solution is to end “it” all.  At that point, no amount of guilt or rational thought will remedy the suffering.  If individuals were empowered to ask for help long before hitting rock bottom (without sacrificing future employment, social rejection, and self-respect); there would be far less suffering…and perhaps the concept of suicide would never cross anyone’s mind.

“Killing oneself is, anyway a misnomer. We don’t kill ourselves. We are simply defeated by the long, hard struggle to stay alive. When somebody dies after a long illness, people are apt to say, with a note of approval, “He fought so hard.” And they are inclined to think, about a suicide, that no fight was involved, that somebody simply gave up. This is quite wrong.

There is a theory, among the psychiatric profession, that people tend to commit suicide when they are getting better, when the acute phase of depression has passed. It is then that they have sufficient energy to take action.”  Quote from Shoot the Damn Dog¹

Break the silence for suicide attempt survivors

Even when our lives appear fine from the outside, locked within can be a world of quiet suffering, leading some to the decision to end their lives.  At TEDYou, JD Schramm asks us to break the silence surrounding suicide and suicide attempts, and to create much-needed resources to help people who reclaim their life after escaping death.

The bridge between suicide and life

As a member of the California Highway Patrol for over twenty-three years, with the majority of those years patrolling the Golden Gate Bridge, Sergeant Kevin Briggs discovered early, that his job required him to take on an unusual role as a police officer: suicide prevention counselor.  Briggs’ familiarity with personal struggle bonds him with suicidal men and women. With simple empathy, an instinct for improvisation and a refusal to walk away, Briggs has negotiated several hundred people from suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge.  As he told the SF Chronicle, “I’ve talked to people from ten minutes to seven hours. I very much despise losing. I do whatever I can to get that person back over the rail. I play to win.”

Robin Williams, Suicide and Shame – Rabbi Brad Hirschfield – Executive Editor of  “We’re not ashamed of having cancer, we’re not ashamed of having ALS or any other devastating disease. But there’s a lot of shame associated with emotional illness.”

The Meaning of Life From a Holocaust Survivor
Viktor Frankl noticed that once a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camps gave up hope, and felt he had no reason to live, he became sick, and died shortly after. In contrast, those who held on strongly to their purpose for living often survived serious illness.  A

Robin Williams: Depression Alone Rarely Causes Suicide – Several factors, such as severity of symptoms, family history, substance abuse and a “mixed” depressive and manic state may combine to increase the risk for suicide.  A

Robin Williams’ death shines light on increasing suicide rate among baby boomers – The suicide rate among middle-aged adults has increased dramatically in recent years – Portland Press Herald.  A

Why Do People Kill Themselves? New Warning Signs – latest research to predict who is going to commit suicide.  Suicide Notes, self-injury, self-harm, attempt, succeed, burden, emotional pain, suffering, escape, negative feelings, social relationships, hopelessness.  A

Being Suicidal: What It Feels Like to Want to Kill Yourself – A research psychologist’s curious look at human behavior – Scientific American.  ß

Time to shine a light on suicide, and banish the shame – Robin Williams, Kay Redfield Jamison, Depression, Pain, Shame, Suicide. ß

¹ Brampton, S. (2008). Shoot the Damn Dog: A Memoir of Depression. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

Be Counted!  Illuminate Mental Diversity at Work.
There is safety (AND strength) in numbers. “All for one, and one for all.”

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© October 2015


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