Depression? Fear? Pain? Desperation? Sheer panic?
Are these answers? If so, why is there a question mark at the end of each ‘answer’?
Every 14 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies by suicide. These statistics are staggering, yet remain hidden and not discussed. But the statistics still don’t answer the question, “Why do people commit suicide?”
Clinical Depression. By far, the most common reason for suicide. We’ve all felt depressed before. Imagine for a moment, never being able to come back from it. Despair. Apathy. Lethargy. Self-hatred. Loneliness, even in a house full of people. A clinically depressed person may feel suicide is the only way to escape the emotional pain they are feeling. Clinical Depression can also entice a person into believing that their loved ones would be better off without them. Logic and sound reasoning are dramatically impaired, if not all together thrown out the window. But Clinical Depression is treatable, and often (but not always) a person who is contemplating suicide will be open about their desires if confronted directly. Keep in mind, however, than many people will actively hide their symptoms in order to “not get caught”. Learning how to recognize the signs of Clinical Depression, and being willing to openly discuss your concerns with a loved one is crucial. Recognize the warning signs.
Psychosis. Sometimes, people really do hear voices in their heads commanding them to commit suicide. Schizophrenia is much harder to conceal than Depression, and most Schizophrenics require medical treatment and medication in order to function at all. They are usually more open in freely discussing thoughts of suicide. Just be aware of the alarming and serious nature that their delusions can take.
An impulse. Usually this is a drug or alcohol related incident. Many times, after the incident, when they sober up, they are embarrassed. If there is an addiction involved, the main emphases should be placed on addiction treatment. However, do not assume that if the person who attempted suicide was intoxicated at the time, it means they aren’t Clinically Depressed. Many clinically depressed people drink alcohol or take drugs before attempting to commit suicide.
A cry for help. Usually these people don’t want to die, but they don’t know how to get the help they need. They may be harassed, bullied, heartbroken, financially ruined, or any number of things that ultimately make them feel trapped or confused. They may choose a method which they think will not be fatal, but many times, sadly, they are mistaken. In the society that we live in today, pressure can mount up quickly and crush us.
To escape physical pain from a terminal illness. Though technically suicide, the decision to end one’s life due to an illness for which there is no chance of recovery is not a question for this writer, though my sincerest empathy and heartfelt respect go out to them.
So. There you are. The top reasons, right there in black and white. But does that really answer the question, “Why do people commit suicide?” If it did, why would we keep asking it?
The truth, though spelled out in simple English for our logical minds to assimilate, seems to fit, yet leaves us still puzzled. And I think the reason is because even though it answers the question of clinical diagnosis, we long for something more. Something more fundamental and primal. “But why?” we still ask. “Why were they clinically depressed? Why did they feel like there was no other way out? Why couldn’t they ask for help? Why, when they drank too much, did they want to die?”
On a fundamental, basic level it all comes down to hope.
It’s a quiet emotion. You hardly even notice its existence until it’s gone. There are a few moments, however, when it makes its presence acutely known.
Anticipation. Longing. Fear.
When you are afraid, really afraid, then the only thing you have to hold onto is hope. When you lose hope, fear destroys you.
People often say something is hopeless, but rarely do they actually believe it. I think there’s a direct relationship there. The more hopeless the cause, the more hope grows in a person’s heart.
When a person has hope, it doesn’t matter how depressed, or angry, or agitated, or even how afraid they became. They fight and struggle to make their life better.
Because they have hope.
They have the quiet, day to day kind of hope that isn’t even noticed. It’s such an unassuming emotion, that when it leaves them, they don’t even realize that it has gone. And they struggle to understand what is happening to them. They don’t know why they are losing control, why they are so afraid, why they are so lonely even with loved ones at their side.
Fear isn’t the worst thing a person can feel, nor is loneliness. They are bearable if a person has hope.
Often, after a suicide, people will say, “Why did he kill himself? He had everything, a good job, good car, good woman, he was young and healthy.”
None of them understand that when a person loses hope, they have nothing.
What the person who committed suicide didn’t understand is that the one thing they still had meant hope.
Life is hope.
If we have nothing left but life, then we have hope.
The one thing in this crazy world that we must hold onto, and sink our teeth into, and our claws into, and never let go.
What do you think? Have you ever lost hope? Found hope? Often, the best source of support is from others who have been in the same situation. Your words of encouragement might just be the one thing that gives pause to someone else considering suicide. Comments and questions are always welcome and encouraged!