On Suicide

The thing about saying anything less than negative about suicide is that your audience will try to blame the position on the fact you’re feeling suicidal, a position they are certain you would not hold if things were going well.

So the best time for me to write on this topic is now, at a time that I’m feeling quite positive.

Suicide. I tend to believe that a good number of suicides, perhaps a majority, were attempted while the individual was short-sighted. Life most certainly has a way of evolving out of a bad spot into something quite amazing.

I was suicidal after my divorce 2 decades ago. A depression held me in its grip for more than 2 years. The pain of the divorce kept me in a dark, but very introspective4 and creative mode. As I slowly emerged from the darkness and looked around me, I realized that life can morph into hundreds of different and brighter forms. I’m so very glad I did not end my life at that time.

However, this is not always possible for everyone at every time. There are situations that allow little hope for future happiness. This is seldom the end of a relationship. It more often occurs when a sickness or disease makes life unbearable due to the physical or emotional pain.

Age is also a factor. Each year I feel more and more satisfied I’ve lived life. There are still many things I intend to do, but I don’t think anyone can say Phil did not live a very full life. So, if I found myself experiencing excruciating pain with no hope of relief, I’d have no problem considering suicide as an option.

While acute and relentless physical pain may be a common legitimate reason to contemplate suicide, I think there are very few cases in which emotional pain would warrant suicide. Admittedly I base this on the fact that I came out of, what I considered to be, an extremely painful depression after my divorce. There may be degrees of depression I have not experienced, or situations in which the emotional pain does not subside. But I tend to doubt it. I don’t think I’ll ever again think about suicide simply due to emotional pain.

The following are the factors I think everyone suffering physical pain should carefully weigh before considering suicide.

The severity of your pain.
The hope of recovery.
Your potential productivity in spite of the pain, giving special consideration to the degree that you can help others.
The degree to which you have already had a great life.
Those negatively affected by your death.

The factors you should not consider include the following.

What others think is the “moral” decision for you to make.
The way your death will be a way to “get back at” or “take revenge on” anyone.

I would suggest that, in most cases, consulting those you love is a good idea. And you definitely do not want to leave anyone you love uninformed about your reasons, leading to them blaming themselves in some way. But ultimately, it is your life to end. If you have family members who would rather see you in immense pain than to have you missing from their overly-dependent lives, don’t feel guilty about deciding what is right for you…and probably also best for them.

Well, that was a bit too somber. Time to get back to living!

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