- Death & Loss of Life
Suicide - The Door to Nowhere
Do you know someone personally that committed suicide?
Was it really only yesterday?
I was looking out from inside that door, thinking about the end. All I would have to do is walk out, close my eyes, and fall forward. That would end it all.
No more pain.
No more sorrow.
No more sadness.
No more thinking about what "should have been" or "could have been."
No more wishing and hoping.
No more seeing others walk by with their fancy duds and their electronic trappings, knowing that I would never be like them.
No more hearing their incessant songs of peace, love, and happiness that grate on my nerves to the point that I could scream!
No more would I have to look at the picture perfect families in the grocery store, at the park, and passing by in cars, waving to strangers as if they were friends.
Calling for help is embarrassing; it's a humiliating admission of need, and experiencing that kind of disgrace is the last thing we want.— Fil Anderson
Why didn't I ask for help?
Who would I ask? You?
Didn't you see me when you passed me on the street, my head down, my shoulders stooped, and my eyes filled with tears?
Didn't you notice when I brushed you in the marketplace, hoping for just a small touch of humanness to soften the blow of my emptiness?
Didn't you hear me cry out in the night when the demons were surrounding me, forcing me to drink the gall of bitterness, then suffocating me with shame and hopelessness?
Didn't you understand my plea for help when I said that life wasn't worth living?
Didn't you sense my desperation when you asked me how I was, and I hung my head and mumbled?
Why didn't I ask for help?
Because I knew that no one would answer... not even you.
- Providing Emotional First Aid
Every day, we have the opportunity to assist someone that is in emotional distress. Using this simple three step formula, we can help them work through their crisis.
What could you have done?
Do you really want to know?
You could have looked at me.
You could have talked to me and treated me like I was a worthwhile human being!
You could have stayed with me while I was hurting.
You could have noticed when I stumbled and fell, and couldn't pick myself up.
You could have shared just a moment of your time with a weary traveler, wandering on a road to nowhere.
You could have seen the pain in my eyes, and given me just a small ounce of comfort.
You could have visited me when I was locked in the prison of my soul.
You could have....if you would have.
But now it is too late.
And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people.— D & C 88:91*
Where do suicidal thoughts come from?
Suicidal thoughts can come to anyone, whether or not there is mental illness present. They form inside our minds as a result of certain conditions that come together for reasons that are beyond stating here. The combination of events, past experience, feelings, and thoughts center in three basic areas:
- Opportunity to Escape
Opportunity to Escape
There is no future
You should never have been born
There it is, a way out
You have lost your destiny
No one cares about you
Do it now, there is no better time
No matter what you do, there will never be enough
You are less than the dust of the earth
No one will ever know
You can't do it, so don't try
It doesn't matter any more
Pain will come to an end
This is the way things are, they will never be different
You don't deserve to live
You will have peace at last
Like a cracked windshield in a worn out vehicle, hopelessness distorts our view of reality. We are unable to see past the negative. It becomes such a part of us that we think that what we are experiencing truth.
Rather than being able to reason, we succumb to the victimization, the voices in our head taunting, criticizing, grating, and grinding us down to the point that there is no way to look up. All roads lead in a downward spiral as we sink further and further into an abyss of darkness.
With the opportunity to escape, the die is cast, the plot is set, the plan is made. The way is open. Suddenly hope is rekindled and there is a relaxed state of mind. It is okay to go forward now, there is nothing standing in the way, and the steps begin.
What can we do with them?
We cannot just ignore suicidal thoughts, they do not go away by themselves. They must be addressed in the moment that they occur.
In order to do so, we have to see our thought patterns for what they are.The red flags are evident in the chart above. The words "ever," "never" and "no one" are blanket statements that give us those feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness.
When we get caught in the whirlpool of thinking that the whole world is against us, our reasons for living go downhill fast! The Emotional Survival Handbook gives us some tools we can use. The two addressed below are covenants and journaling.
Decide now that you will never commit suicide. Making a covenant allows us to think through a problem ahead of time and make a decision concerning it while we are in the best position to do so. Once the decision has been made, we are able to go forward, knowing that we can depend upon the covenant to protect us.
For me, deciding not to commit suicide saved my life. My battle with mental illness often left me feeling that there was no hope for my future. Because I had already made the decision not to commit suicide, I was able to do what it took to work through the distressing thought process that were plaguing me.
I found that as I wrote down my feelings, I could see the distorted thought processes more readily. Here are some excerpts from 11-05-2002
"I feel that I have a mental block. I am in denial. I want to think that my physical well-being is at stake here, so I keep trying to rest to make the symptoms go away...
"Knives………….it is interesting that they should be the ones to trigger my suicidal thoughts.When I make a mistake, or don’t please someone, I feel worthless, like I have no reason to live anymore.
"I know that is wrong, but that is what happens. That is how I feel right now. How can I lift someone else’s spirits when I feel this way? How can I even go on? What do I do when I feel worthless?
"I know what I can do. I can listen to good music. I can read. I can seek for some kind of inspiration that will help me go on……"
The rate of suicide amongst those with mental illness is staggering. The dragons of depression, rage, anxiety, guilt, and other negative self-esteems eat us alive if we don’t have the tools to fight our battle against them.— Introduction, The Emotional Survival Handbook
How can we help those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts?
Having a strong support network is the greatest deterrent to suicide. People who are suicidal often leave clues as to what they are feeling. If we listen to their verbal and body language, we can pick up on them. Our job is to act like a mirror and reflect them back to the person.
When they hear the same words coming from us, the shock factor might just be enough to wake them up to what is happening. The distorted thought patterns don't look so dangerous coming at us from the inside, but when we hear them coming from someone else, we realize how untrue they really are.
Our ability to encourage and strengthen others helps them to see that they are worthwhile people, that there is hope, and that they can go on. In the song by Sidewalk Prophets, "The Words I Would Say," we hear some examples.
Take the time to help someone today. You never know when you just might be the person who stands between them, and the door to nowhere, for your emotional health!
©2015 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved. For more information on Emotional Survival, see www.denisewa.com.
NOTE: the first part of the article is a response to Bill Holland's creative writing challenge, The Door to Nowhere. The second part is from the author's own experience.
*D & C - The Doctrine and Covenants, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.