Don’t Say “Suicide is a Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem”

Always the Fight Ministries: Displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse. (c)2019 Nancy Virden

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A lot of people say it. Often. The other day I almost said it and realized how easy it is to parrot what one hears. It is harder to know and to speak the truth.

The obvious can bypass our thoughts when we are merely repeating. Even people who know better are caught off-guard once in awhile.

First, the obvious: suicide is never a solution. Period. 

Most people do not want to die- they want the pain to stop. In the middle of their crisis, however,  it may feel as if death is the only option.

For those of us attempt-survivors who perceived death as not only the way out but an entrance to the life we were intended to have, suicide is more complex. That is not to say it is more or less painful. Everyone who considers suicide is exceedingly suffering.

When we start to define suicide as a solution, as an end or a beginning, we glamorize the loss of life. Life is sacred. Alive people are here for a reason whether or not that seems clear at the moment. 

Suicide also exacerbates problems for family members, friends, co-workers, and even general society. I have never met a suicide loss survivor who does not ask the question, why? One suicide in a family increases the chances of another*.  Even strangers are affected by the news, and suicide contagion is real.**

Not all problems are temporary

We know this. So why do we try to reassure others with insensitivity? It is endless – the list of problems that linger and make life difficult. Poverty (no, not everyone can make it out), poor health, loss of loved ones, and much more worldwide are not temporary.

Clearly, coping was a complicated issue for those who died. Ninety percent of people who die by suicide had a mental health struggle of some kind. Most of this population suffered from depression. Because of insurance disparity, stigma, or lack of access, treatment may not have been an option. For others who may have been treatment-resistant, help may have been ineffective or arrived too late to stop their spiral downward.

Chronic depression and anxiety, often combined, can appear as bipolar disorder. Yet these conditions need very different treatments.*** Borderline personality disorder has a strong history of misdiagnosis. You may be able to add just about any scenario to the possibilities of why a person may receive inappropriate treatment that extends their troubles.

Not temporary does not mean hopeless

If we are honest about how chronically challenging life can be, we will find other ways to encourage those lost in despair.  The primary and most effective action a support person can take is to be there. Physically, by text, on social media -whatever ways we can find to repeatedly and often let someone know they matter to us is most meaningful.      

Since I have faith in the God of the Bible and a decent amount of understanding of the book, I know God made people in his image. Whether we deny it or not, we bear the mark of his likeness in some way. 

Life is sacred. You are sacred. People in any struggle of any kind anywhere are sacred. Let’s not erase the importance of human desperation with platitudes.

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 33:20-22

We put our hope in the Lord.
    He is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
    for our hope is in you alone

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!

*  and



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