In some way, all of us are affected by suicide. Whether you worry about the possibility that a loved one is considering it, have had a loved one attempt it or die from it, or whether you have grieved with a friend or neighbor when it happened, suicide leaves its mark.
Every year, one million people attempt suicide in the United States. Over 40,000 Americans die from suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in those aged 10 to 24 years. A surprising fact for many, the highest risk of death by suicide is actually older adult men.
Two people in the U.S. will probably die from suicide before you finish reading this article. Worldwide, there is one death by suicide every 40 seconds.
Most people who consider suicide are in the midst of a deep clinical depression. In the moment of the suicide attempt, the person really does lose touch with reality. They may not hallucinate, but they believe things that are untrue. They are momentarily delusional. Here are some of the lies of suicide:
- “Everyone would be better off without me.”
- “They’ll get over it soon.”
- “My life will never get better.”
- “There is no help for me.”
- “I don’t deserve to live.”
- “I’ll show them how badly they’ve hurt me.”
- “I have no other options.”
- “Nobody cares.”
Unfortunately, many deeply depressed people believe these lies, and they act on them. If they don’t succeed, and when the depression improves, they realize that they were lies, but in the moment they don’t know any better.
Suicide also conveys several lies for the loved ones that are left behind. Their grief is complicated by confusion and many, many questions. They struggle to make sense of the loss. They often blame themselves. Here are some of the lies placed upon the loved ones left behind by a suicide:
- “I should have seen it coming.”
- “I should have done something.”
- “If only I had ……”
- “What did I do to cause it?”
- “She tried to tell me, but I didn’t listen.”
- “He made a decision to leave me.”
- “How could she have been so cruel?”
- “Others will blame me. I feel so ashamed.”
The reality is that none of us can perfectly predict human behavior. Most people try to do the right, loving thing, based on what they know in that moment. They can’t know what is going to happen in the future. If they had known, they would have done anything to intervene.
We know that this horrible thing should not have happened. Our next thought is to ask who is to blame. We look at every interaction, every missed opportunity. But in the moment, we probably did what we thought was best. We didn’t know. We couldn’t know.
If you have a loved one who is depressed, and you have concerns that they may be considering suicide, talk to them. Ask them if they are thinking about it. Tell them how much it would hurt you if they did something to themselves. You won’t suggest the idea, and you might just give them the opportunity to change their mind.