I think very few people actually become suicidal.
We all get stressed, depressed, upset, and so on—but to truly have a suicidal inclination is reserved for a relatively small number of people in my opinion. There is a difference between thinking or talking about killing oneself, and truly having a deep desire to end one’s own life.
I have been dealing with a severe chronic illness for a number of years now (as anyone who reads my pieces knows quite well), and there have been many moments where I have felt completely hopeless. Hope is the worst thing not to have in times of pain.
I have thought a lot about suicide and everything that it might entail. How I would do it, what note I would leave, how people would think about me after it was over, and so on.
Now, I can only speak from the domain of my own experience, and I am being very careful about what I say here. In my experience, the people who actually end their own lives are usually pretty secretive about how they have been feeling. It always seems to come as such a surprise—though perhaps that also has to do with the human proclivity toward denial.
There may have been some signs, but it usually is by no means obvious that this person was suffering as much as they were.
The reason I believe this to be the case is because a major cause of suicide seems to be repression. It is the person who keeps their true feelings reserved and hidden from other people that is most likely to end their own life. The more stubborn and tough a person is, the more likely they are to commit suicide when things are too difficult to handle on their own.
There is no limit to human sorrow. It doesn’t matter how tough someone is, they will break under the right amount of pressure. If we are suffering without a cause, without help, or without anyone understanding us, then it is a natural inclination to want to commit suicide. Toughing it out without seeking out help or expressing how we truly feel is the path to suicide.
I’ve felt the closest to death’s door during the times when I wasn’t expressing how badly I was feeling and was trying to do everything on my own. The fact of the matter is, I can’t do this without other people. The challenge of this illness is an impossible task without being supported by those who I love and care for.
Without love, we cannot tolerate our suffering.
The truth about suicide is that we are most vulnerable when we don’t express our vulnerability. We must express our feelings in some way, whether it be seeking out counseling, talking to our family, or reaching out to friends. We must say how much we are suffering to other people, otherwise it remains a deadly secret that dwells in our psyche.
I know this all seems obvious, but it is easy to forget when we are the ones being affected.
The past year or so has been the most difficult time with my illness, and so much of that has to do with me pretending that I am strong enough to handle it myself. It has been a matter of pride. I have taken my illness so personally that it has come to be a part of my person, so to speak. I have come to identify with certain aspects of my condition, particularly the profound suffering that has come with it. I feel that I have suffered in a way that most people haven’t, and this has made me reluctant to ask for help.
I can’t do it on my own, and this is perhaps the most key concept in suicide prevention.
I want to live more than I want to die.
If we are strong enough to take ourselves out of this world, I’d say there is a pretty good chance that we are strong enough to find a way to go on living.
This has everything to do with expressing our vulnerability and being honest with the people around us about how we are.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Volcan Olmez/Unsplash
Editor: Danielle Beutell
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