Suicide happens any time the negative thoughts of a person become stronger and more powerful than the person themselves. To better understand what I am talking, read my article about suicide, located below, and then read Being Yourself and Life is Easy When you change your thinking - Frederick Zappone
© 2001 By Frederick Zappone
Mr. Zappone, my oldest sister successfully committed suicide on May 10th. She was 39. There are few people outside of my family that I can talk to about what happened and how it has affected me. Since I have a connection to the Internet all day, sometimes I surf for information that might help me deal with some of this stuff. Your article contained the most honest and real advice I have seen. I really appreciated the way that you just laid it on the line. Not many people do that. - Ruth.W. Chicago
Mr Zappone, what a wonderful well articulated article! Having lost a few people to suicide including my father and working for 8 years in Mental Health mainly support- I feel this tackles a highly emotive, tricky subject with wonderful insight and a great perspective. This is useful for both those going through it and those that have been left behind. Consider this shared in my social networks. - Stephany M.
Suicide is a solution to a problem! Granted it is not the most preferred solution but it is a solution and should be recognized as such. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating suicide. What I'm advocating is for people to understand the state of mind of someone who wants to commit suicide and then offer that person life affirming alternatives to their problem.
People contemplate suicide when the circumstances of their life become so overwhelming, in their mind, that they feel intensely hopeless and find themselves experiencing a state of depression and/or despair. These feelings can overwhelm a person and leave them "feeling" powerless.
In this society we are not taught how to embrace the feeling of hopelessness as a way of moving through it to the other side. We are taught to be afraid of it. We are taught that not only is the hopeless feeling a bad one, it is just plain un-American to feel that way. In our society where the "pretense of happiness" is more important than expressing negative feelings in healthy ways, we are taught to conceal those feelings.
When we conceal any emotion we judge to be negative, we can end up feeling isolated, alone, and even invisible to others. This experience can be frightening to someone who doesn't understand why they are feeling the way they do and makes them seek a desperate solution to ending the experience of feeling hopeless. When this happens suicide becomes an option, for some people, as a way of solving their problems and the hopeless feelings that go along with them.
When a person threatens suicide they are asking for help. People who don't want help, don't threaten suicide, they just go out and do it.
Being in the presence of (or living with) someone who threatens suicide is both a very scary and exciting situation. Scary because they could end their life in a second and take you along with them. Exciting because nothing is as exciting as being in the presence of danger. On the other hand, being in the presence of danger for a prolonged period of time becomes very stressful and emotionally draining.
In addition, when you are in the presence of someone who is threatening to kill themselves, it is one of the most intimate experiences you can have. There is nothing like being in a life or death situation to make you feel fully alive and have your senses become alert and heightened far beyond normal. This kind of situation can be very exciting for the support person (they could become a hero) and very rewarding for the person who is considering ending their life because they are the center of attention.
For some people, negative attention is better than no attention at all. The drama of suicide is a very heady experience but repeated threats of this kind take there toll on the people involved in playing out this kind of high drama. After a period of time "the support person" begins feeling like an emotional hostage in the situation and the person making the threats begins to feel like his or her emotional investment in taking their own life is too high to back down from.
It is important to let the suicidal person know you will do whatever is required to help them work through their suicidal feelings as quickly as possible. It is important to understand that the person who is thinking about killing themselves considers suicide a real solution to their problem whether or not their problem is real or just imagined.
Arguing with, invalidating the problem or trying to forcibly talk a person out of suicide will only make them become more entrenched in their position that suicide is the way to go. If you are too frightened to be around a person who is thinking of taking their own life, find someone who isn't and have them take your place as the primary support person. There is no shame in being frightened about a suicidal situation but there is shame in staying in a situation when you're not emotionally or mentally equipped to handle it.
In my lifetime I've been in the presence of a number of people who have threatened to kill themselves. In all cases, they eventually chose life affirming solutions to their problems. In each case, my reaction, the way I handled each suicidal episode was different. I'm not recommending you do any of the things I did. There is no guarantee that what I did in these life or death situations will work for you.
On one occasion, I told the person contemplating suicide that I never saw anyone commit suicide before and if they decided to go through with it I was wondering if I could watch. I don't know what prompted me to say what I said but in this case my challenge of their suicide threat ended the episode and I was able to get them professional help.
On another occasion, over a two week period of time, a friend of mine attempted to take her life three times. She overdosed on drugs and each time I had to rush her to the hospital to have her stomach pumped. After the third episode, I let my friend know how much I loved her, how much I cared for her and my unwillingness to continue to be an emotional hostage in her drama. She agreed to let me hospitalize her and since then her suicidal feelings have all but disappeared.
The other thing I've learned about suicidal people is that you ultimately can not stop a person from committing suicide. If they want to do it, really do it, they'll find a way. And unless you live with them 24 hours a day there is nothing you can do to stop them. If someone close to you pulls off a suicide successfully, do not blame yourself. Seek professional help to assist you with the grieving process and then give yourself permission to move on with your life.
The one thing I do know that helps in dealing with suicidal people, no matter how the situation turns out, is to tell them what's true for you about their situation and tell it to them from your heart. I remember telling my friend how much she would be missed by me if she killed herself, how powerless I felt to save her life, how much I wished I had a magic wand to make everything okay for her. I let her know how deeply I was touched by her pain and how much I appreciated the fact that she trusted me enough to see her through her suicidal episodes.
I made it a point to tell her everything I wanted and needed to tell her in case she decided to end her life. At least, if she ended her life, I would have no regrets. I would have known in my heart of hearts I did my very best and I would have been able to live the rest of my life in peace knowing I did my best.
Fortunately for me, all of my friends continue to make life affirming choices and suicide as an option is becoming nothing more than a dim memory for them. As my friends discovered, in life, there are always options, life affirming options. Once they discovered life affirming options for themselves, with the help of the people in their life who loved them, they no longer felt suicidal.
Disclamer: The information contained in this article dealing with suicidal feelings is not intended as a substitute for religious or medical advice. You should consult a member of the clergy or a professional health care practitioner for that kind of information. On the other hand, if you choose to act upon the information provided in this article (which is your constitutional right to do so), the author is not responsible for the consequences of your actions.