***Trigger Warning – Post About Suicide***
I have spent countless hours sitting with people, listening to them and exploring why they feel the way that they do. I have worked with people who have both thought about suicide and attempted suicide. For some, it’s a mild ideation -a distant possibility, and yet for others it is an obsessive thought. The truth is, we may never know exactly why someone chooses to end their life because personal circumstances and reasons are varying, and there may be various contributing factors. But here is what I do know:
- Suicide isn’t about wanting to die, it’s about ending the suffering, it’s about not being able to bear living. Think about that for a minute. Think about what must be happening inside of that person’s psyche to be considering ending their lives. Try not to look at it from your perspective but try to see it from theirs. Each time we judge suicide as being a cowardly act, we close the doors on compassionate listening. We re-affirm to those who are already suffering- who may be considering the act of taking their lives, one more way in which they are inadequate. Generally speaking, when someone comes into clinic wanting to talk about their suicidal thoughts, they want to be heard without judgment or criticism. They want someone to acknowledge and respect them. They don’t want to be lectured or judged or told that it will pass.
- Suicidal people often have conflicting thoughts/voices, one which speaks of self-hatred and other is the voice of reason. One will provide all the reasons for wanting to end life, and the other will give reason for continuing to fight. Clients have on occasion described the thoughts of wanting to commit suicide as being all-consuming; and when this happens it becomes difficult to reach out for help.
- Whilst we are not responsible for another’s actions, we are responsible for our own and how we treat others. Our actions and words matter. Listening to someone, showing that you care, trying to be non-judgmental and gently pointing them towards professional help counts. Furthermore, looking within yourself at your own judgments and beliefs matters immensely.
Ultimately, every one of us inherently wants to survive, to live, to experience, to grow, to be heard, to love and to be loved; but when we don’t address our pain and take the time to understand who are and how we function, we struggle. In the famous words of Sigmund Freud, “unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth in uglier ways.” If we are to cultivate compassion and kindness within both our self and for others, we must first educate ourselves about ourselves.