Awareness is rising that suicide is 100% preventable but how we go about doing that is not 100% successful.
The meme brought up in this article says, “Suicide doesn’t stop the pain; it passes it on to somebody else.” Read the article for their perspective I’m going to share what I think about this phrase.
The first error in thinking is believing that all suicides are due to the person no longer able to stand the pain or suffering that they are experiencing. That is only one of several reasons. My counselor was trying to encourage me that I could endure the suffering caused by remembering a hurtful childhood. I was puzzled why he kept going on and on about suffering is temporary and we can endure. At the time of the conversation, I had recently broken my arm. In exasperation I pointed out, “I can take pain, I straightened out my broken arm without crying for the X-rays they needed.” He sat and thought about this for awhile. I liked this about him. He would sit and think before answering. Then comprehension spread across his face. “For you suicide is not avoiding pain, it is an execution.” There was no question in his voice because both of us knew he was stating out loud what I was afraid to say. In my distorted thinking from childhood, I felt that my existence was a burden and a hinderance to my family and I should die so they could be happy. Yup, that was the type of twisted thinking that I was taught as a child. I noticed a significant change in counseling sessions from I can endure to you deserve to live. The first part of the quote is that suicide is always about pain is faulty. Bust number 1.
The second part is a world class guilt trip. Don’t die because you will cause someone else to suffer. Living for others works but it has the long term ramification of implying that a person doesn’t deserve to live because they are important. I lived for others. I was also willing to die for others. That concept that me – just me – mattered was difficult to believe and even harder to put into practice. If you live for others take into account, eventually they will leave or die or move or have a humongous disagreement then your reason for living falls apart. Sadly people isolate scriptures or quotes and say the greatest thing you can do is to lie down your life for others…yes that can be true but it is not the only thing you can do. My counselor, smart therapist, pointed out that to die for someone else does not over shadow the need to live and grow and serve others. I agreed. Living is much more difficult than dying. He gave me the 5/50 project. Do something for others that doesn’t take longer than 5 minutes and doesn’t cost more than 50 cents. A candy bar cost more than 50 cents. I was supposed to learn that I am a good person…I totally missed the point. What I did learn was that so many people can be blessed and their lives lightened in less than 5 minutes. Let me give you a simple example. I worked in a retail store. Repeatedly I watched as people dug through pockets to find a penny or two for the sale. I wore an apron on the job so I started keeping pennies in my pocket. You would not believe how excited an adult will get because I offered to put a penny in for them. I never spent more than 50 cents a week yet the joy on some many faces was quite amazing. I tried in other places too. For a teacher that I was assigned to at work, I made some copies for them. Took me less than 5 minutes but the teacher was so excited that I helped them, not because I was assigned to but I wanted to. Another time I was behind in line of a elderly lady that kept changing her mind and fretting and looking for her coins for exact change, getting it wrong and doing it all over again. The cashier was pleasant and kind to her the whole time. When it was my turn he started to apologize for how long he spent with the elderly lady. I stopped the apology with these gentle words, “I hope you are my cashier when I reach that age. Thank you for being so kind to her.” Took less than 5 minutes, The person behind me heard my words and their face changed from one of irritation to agreement with me. So a phrase that took less than 5 minutes changed 2 people’s day. Living because you are important and you can help others to me is far more valid reason to live. My counselor first convinced me that I had great value to others alive and then he convinced me that I was important and worth living for. He took it as a two step process because of the hurdles of the dysfunctional childhood that taught me that I existed to please the adults in my life. Along the way I loss sight that me – I am important and a worthwhile person. I deserve happiness, success and a place in the world. I matter. Bust number 2.
My sister reminds me, “If an idea can fit in a nutshell, it should probably stay there.”
Statistics make me sad but also highlights that how we think about suicide is often faulty:
The annual age-adjusted suicide rate is 13.26 per 100,000 individuals. Men die by suicide 3.5x more often than women. On average, there are 121 suicides per day. White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2015. –