Post No.: 0129
This is a very sensitive topic so please read on only if and when you are comfortable to…
Someone can be passively suicidal (i.e. the symptoms are mostly only the suicide ideation and a general feeling of wanting to end it all) or someone can be more actively suicidal (i.e. has actually attempted suicide before or specifically plans such a moment in detail).
Suicide is a far more common cause of death than many people realise. There is estimated to be on average one suicide every 40 seconds in the world. There are many multiple more people who attempt it too. There are many different reasons for it, including psychosis (hearing voices/auditory hallucinations that tell victims to kill themselves due to e.g. schizophrenia or psychoactive drug abuse), voluntary euthanasia (because of a terminal illness or chronic pain), as a cry for help that went further than intended, and depression, which is the most common reason.
Suicide ideation (thoughts rather than acts of suicide, but which may one day lead to an act) affects even more people. Symptoms include no longer feeling one can cope any longer with a pain (e.g. from the loss of a loved one, a debilitating disease, rejection), hopelessness about the future, and not wanting to carry on with life anymore. It’s less about wanting to die than not wanting to live anymore i.e. it’s about wanting to escape from a painful life rather than the draw of the destination of death. It’s part of the common symptoms of depression – just like thirst is a common symptom of dehydration.
The chances of committing suicide correlate with living in poverty/with a low socio-economic status (deprivation and disadvantage, particularly where there’s great socio-economic inequality between those who have wealth and those who don’t), loneliness, experiencing loss, a relationship breakdown, mental health issues, and alcohol/drug abuse.
Some people attempt suicide because they worry about the way other people socially think of them as failures or as laughing stock (or they assume this is how others think of them) – they tip over the edge to take their own lives because they may think that everybody’s better off without them, as if suicide would be doing everyone else a favour because they think they’re a burden or because of their (perceived) damaged social reputation and shame or embarrassment. This can be sad because other people may not actually be thinking that way about them; or even if they were, it shouldn’t matter if one is doing and has done no harm to anyone else, or even if one has, there are other ways to make things right (which there always are).
If one is doing or has done no genuine harm to others (e.g. by merely being a homosexual, being quirky or simply different to the ‘norm’, for doing an embarrassing social faux pas in public, having a mental disorder, physical disability, being a victim of bullying or trolling, being poor or unpopular) then the real problem that needs solving is society’s prejudice! This piece of wisdom – of not being too concerned about what other people think because it speaks about their prejudices because one is not doing any genuine harm to anyone else with one’s life – is one to remember. It may keep a person alive for long enough to find another solution, or to find more intelligent and compassionate people to hang around with. (Yet we arguably cannot be trashy towards the prejudiced otherwise this’ll speak about our own prejudices(!) Some people just need more education, and being a tribal, segregated and retaliatory scrote towards them won’t teach them that you’re actually fine and safe people to have in society. You don’t want to reinforce their fears, bigotry and stereotypes of certain groups; although no one should accept abuse either.)
If some people think someone is harming others for being ‘a failure’ or merely ‘different’ then these people are arguably harming others for e.g. having ugly faces or annoying voices(!) This isn’t genuine harm like passive smoking, sexual harassment or indeed spreading prejudiced, bigoted views, for example.
If harm has been unintentionally done unto others then there are other ways to make things right, to make a bad thing good and/or to prevent it happening again. Now if harm has been intentionally done unto others (e.g. purposely defrauding others for personal gain) then such people (unless they were in a coerced situation, such as to feed a terrible drug addiction) wouldn’t typically be a suicide risk because they are more likely to be shameless, remorseless or unaffected by guilt, hence their premeditated act of crime. Thus killing oneself due to shame only really affects the innocent, the accidental or unintentional wrongdoer, the repentant, the truly remorseful and guilt-ridden, or the disordered or addict who cannot help him/herself or was desperate. (The only exception may be those who kill themselves due to the shame of getting caught doing something wrong rather than the shame of having done something wrong itself.) Therefore anyone who commits suicide or feels a real urge to do so doesn’t deserve to because they’ve already beaten themselves up and punished themselves greatly and possibly unfairly – they deserve forgiveness and compassion, both from themselves and from others in society. Woof!
As a slight aside – when, in some cultures, some elders or peers feel that a family member has brought shame to their entire family, these elders aren’t really feeling shame as such but anger that a family member has (supposedly) brought shame to their family. And they believe this family member should be punished for it. But shame is about punishing oneself – anger is about punishing others. So these elders or peers feel anger, not shame, even though they use the excuse that shame has been brought onto their entire family via the actions of one member. Only if they mentally punish themselves, and only themselves, for unintentionally raising a child they dislike and disapprove of, would they actually be feeling genuine shame in these kinds of scenarios.
There are exceptional and rare cases, such as mass shooters/killers who kill themselves after their acts of terror, or suicide bombers, but these don’t statistically represent people who suicide any more than crashes represent air travel (air travel is statistically incredibly safe). These extreme cases are salient, grab attention and are reported extensively in the news if/when they happen precisely because they are relatively rare and unusual. Rare and unusual equals interesting – but rare is not representative of what’s typical. But really all suicide is tragic because they could’ve been intervened earlier in the chain of events, earlier in people’s lives (e.g. when they were children and way before there was any idea in their heads of committing anything terrible to others or themselves).
Debt, poverty and money worries cause many suicides (it’s not ‘just money’ in these contexts when one cannot afford to live or has a bleak financial outlook) – some people know that their debts get wiped when they die rather than get passed on to burden their families. Having savings in the bank in case of a rainy day is good for one’s mental health in general – one will have a sense of security if something goes wrong that needs money to solve (so people born into wealth have this psychological advantage over those born into poverty too, all else being equal – just knowing that one’s parents can (and unless cruel enough to leave their own children homeless or starving, likely ultimately will) bail one out in case of trouble (unless one’s foolish pride will reject it), allows one to voluntarily take greater risks and independent ventures, even if one isn’t given any money or other forms of help upfront; although these are often given by wealthy parents to their children, directly or indirectly, too. It’s easier to confidently venture independently when you subconsciously or consciously know someone dependable and able has ultimately got your back). Most debt problems are as a result of sudden changes in circumstances rather than recklessness with money.
A drug overdose is an extremely common way to attempt suicide. Suicide attempts using firearms are more likely to be fatal though because they offer an almost guaranteed and instant death. These sorts of options are relatively quick and easy to plan and setup in a heat-of-the-moment, impulsive situation too. A gunshot to the brain is a rapid and hopefully painless way of ‘switching off one’s thoughts’ thus making them far more attractive than knives/blades. So the easy accessibility of drugs and firearms might make the choice of suicide far easier to perform in heat-of-the-moment situations. If some of these people can ride out their most intense moments of suffering then they might manage to calm down and think twice about ending their lives there and then, and think of other solutions. No one (whether mentally disordered or not) tends to make the best decisions for the long-term whilst in an acutely stressed mental state. It’s mostly in this state we all sometimes do or say things we later regret – if we’re still alive to be able to experience this regret, that is.
Low socio-economic status, financial, bereavement and/or relationship problems are common reasons for suicide. But it’s hard to predict who’s most at risk because not everyone who faces these problems thinks about or attempts suicide. There are ultimately a multitude of different reasons or factors why people decide to end their lives. Not all suicides are committed by people who have diagnosed mental health disorders but the vast majority of suicide cases are by those who do. Depression, in particular, is highly linked. Yet the vast majority of people who have depression never commit suicide. And not all suicide victims seemed to have suffered from depression either. Genetics doesn’t explain it all, as environmental factors seem to overall play a slightly larger role.
Victims come from diverse walks of life, from the unemployed poor to wealthy celebrities, and people of various ages, genders and personalities, for instance. Being overly concerned about what other people think about oneself might cause some to seek ‘escape’ from all this social judgement, and success might lead some to have unreasonable expectations and then the only way from the top is down, for instance. Ultimately, many victims might not know the true reasons for their own ideations (e.g. some arguably misattribute their reasons to existential crises yet after taking antidepressants those existential crises disappear; albeit this doesn’t necessarily mean those existential crises weren’t real or weren’t felt just because some chemical medications later dampened them – all thoughts are ultimately electrochemical processes after all).
Surviving loved ones of suicide victims can start to feel a shame and guilt too thus are also vulnerable people in the wake of any suicide case. People who take their own lives don’t mean to hurt others but many will feel hurt. So please watch out for anybody close to a suicide victim because they are in a vulnerable state too!
This is not a complete analysis of suicide but although this subject isn’t easy to talk or read about, it’s important that we do (without idealising it).
Woof. As always, if you’re feeling really down then you’re not alone and I hope you can find the courage to speak to someone about it. Or if you’re someone a sufferer has chosen to speak to then I hope you can listen without judgement or dismissing their feelings. Take any suggestion that a person is thinking about suicide seriously – never risk dismissing it as pure nonsense! And if you suspect someone is considering suicide, even though they haven’t explicitly mentioned it, then don’t be afraid to take the initiative and gently and compassionately bring it up with them – if they are then they’re likely to be honest, and if they’re not then at least they’ll know you care. Sensitively talking about suicide won’t make it more likely.