Always the Fight Ministries: Displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse. (c)2019 Nancy Virden
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. Obvious truths bypass our thinking filter system when we merely repeat. Learning to speak with understanding is harder.
Here’s why saying suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem is dismissive and unhelpful.
Suicide is never a solution. Period.
Most people do not want to die- they want the pain to stop. In the middle of their mental 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 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 for the rest of their lives, why? One suicide in a family increases the chances of another. Suicide contagion is real.*
Not all problems are temporary
We know this. So why do we try to reassure others with this insensitivity? A list, if one could be written, of problems that linger, is endless. Poverty (no, not everyone can make it out), poor health (not everyone can afford health care or decent food), loss of loved ones, trauma, and much more worldwide are not temporary. Survival mode living, desperation – also not always temporary.
Ninety percent of people who die by suicide had a mental health struggle of some kind. Because of insurance disparity, stigma, or lack of access, treatment may not have been an option. Still others are undertreated. Misdiagnoses, family pressures – all these interfere with treatments’ effectiveness.
‘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 in-person or through communication. However it is we can let a person know, I’m glad you are alive because… is most meaningful.
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.
People in any struggle of any kind anywhere are sacred. Let’s not invalidate the darkest pits of human existence with platitudes.
Today’s Helpful Word
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
*** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME
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!