Suicide is a difficult topic.
All too many trauma survivors feel drawn to it.
Mental health professionals fight against it.
Insurance companies dismiss it.
Religions disagree about it.
The world out there doesn’t know how to interpret it. The world does not know how to talk about it. It’s controversial and complex. There are no simple answers.
Who’s to blame for it?
The individual? The parents? The treating physicians? The perpetrators that caused the initial pain? The spouse or other family members?
And do we have to have someone to blame?
When you think about suicide, do you think that it is…
- A last resort?
- An avoidance?
- Someone’s right to choose?
- An option?
- Never an option?
- A compulsion?
- Something outside of your control?
- Your destiny?
If you have ever truly cared for someone who has committed suicide, your life will be forever changed.
I am convinced that one of the absolutely most painful and devastating traumatic heartbreaks is to have a loved one commit suicide. The surviving friends and family members are left with questions that will forever remain unanswered. Children whose parents commit suicide are forever scarred, and parents whose children commit suicide are forever in gut-wrenching pain.
If you are suicidal, please get help immediately.
Your life matters more than you realize.
There is hope for you.
There is help for you.
Copyright © 2008-2017 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
Here is another piece for me. I need to be able to freely talk with my therapist about suicide when I am NOT suicidal. I need for her to be comfortable with the topic so that it doesn’t get “drama laden.’ Drama is exhausting for us and exhausting for her. I don’t want to wait until it gets so big that it explodes all over emotionally speaking. It’s a lot better for me to be able to have those conversations in small bits when I am emotional stable and can actually hear what my T is saying and can learn and absorb what she is teaching.
I think it takes a lot of trust on both our parts to be able to do that. She needs to trust that I am not being manipulative or trying to interject drama into the conversation, but that I truly want to address why I sometimes mentally/emotionally go down that thought-path. She needs to trust that if I really am suicidal that I will follow the pre-determined plan we have created for that situation. I need to trust that she will not add to drama by over-reacting and calling the men in the little white coats just because I want to talk about the subject. That’s a tough call, I know, because in order to do that she has to trust I am being truthful and transparent with her. And I need to trust her wisdom and professional skills and her positive intent should she ever call the men in the little white coats when I don’t want her to.
That’s a big circle of trust around a very difficult topic.
I’m so very thankful that my T and I are able to do that. It is such a relief to not have to hide the topic and it takes a lot of power away from the darkness to put a taboo subject out on the table in the light of day. It’s not a secret anymore and that gives me more options for coping – and this is the big one – it gives me more opportunities to learn new coping skills / strategies, to gain understanding…to simply do things differently.
When something “clicks” and I gain a skill or understanding it makes me better able to model for my insiders and lift them out of hopelessness.
Because I am not leaving any of them behind. I don’t even know them all…but I’m not going to abandon them to dark despair and self-harm.
What would I like in my basket of safety nets?
Yes, yes and yes again to Kathy and Laura and the people here. So much wisdom and understanding, so much raw and real communication. Understanding and authenticity and freedom to speak our truth. When I look at the number of articles here I am quite stunned. That’s a whole lot of work on Kathy’s part. I am so grateful for this place. I feel validated here. That is one thing that was sorely, sorely lacking. No one believed me…
My T is also one of my safety nets. I love her honesty and sense of humor and patience. One of the first things I told her when I started with her is that I needed her to bear witness while I figured out how to do that for myself and while I figured out my path toward peace. I do not need her to “fix” me. I need to do that for myself, but I need her to come along side me as I do. And I told her that I would need her help when I got stuck.
My physical therapist is also a safety net. She’s helping me make sense of my body. We do a lot of body work. She also is a very mindful person and we talk often about various concepts like being present, having compassion, chakras, emotional energy, trauma that is being held physically, etc.
I think having a plan is a safety net. “What will I do if I am having a panic attack?” “What will I do if I feel like being self harmful?” “What will I do if I can’t sleep?” Is there someone I can call if I need to talk to someone? I literally have LISTS and I have a “comfort box” of things inside that help me. Stones. Essential oil (I love clary sage), a picture of my dog, journal notebook, peppermints, etc. Whatever it takes that helps and does not harm.
I have had dogs all my life and they’ve always been my safety net. My dog always knows who I am and always knows WHEN I am and will bring me back to myself when I need help.
When I feel depressed one of my safety nets is to do something outside but sometimes I am so full of that horrid mix of anxiety and depression that I get stuck and don’t know what to do. So I have a list. “Take the dog for a walk.” “Sit out on the front steps with a cup of tea.” “Weed the herb garden.” “Clean the birdfeeders.”
Ice cream. YES!! 🙂
When it comes down to thinking of suicide as an option because I don’t think I can take it anymore…having a list of things that help get me out of that downward spiral really helps.
Brilliantly, beautifully, poignantly, wonderfully spoken Wren.
I’m all in … let’s start filling our baskets dear friends with our safety nets!!!
I’ll start with a couple of things in my basket:
* Kathy, Kathy, Kathy and my friends here at Discussing Dissociation. How wonderful it is that we do not have to hide in silence in this space. We are seen and heard here. Just drink in that vision and hold on to the knowledge that you are not alone. Every time that I come here, I feel that I breath in such life-affirming hope, compassion and understanding that my heart is lifted out of darkness into the light of renewed strength.
* My T. Well, she is my rock, my safe place in a world that seems chaotically out of control much of the time. I go to her office, sink into her big chair that hugs me and surrounds me with warmth … and I feel peace. The discussions that we have are anything but peaceful yet her compassion, knowledge, humour and patience are the bedrock that I am building my tower of hope on. When I am in a bad place, I close my eyes and think about that space and we (my alters and I) have pretend conversations with her. My insiders and I have a countdown of big sleeps before we see our T again as well. Sometimes, just focusing on getting to the next appointment is what keeps us moving forward.
* I like to remind myself that my little self had such remarkable courage, creativity and will to live that I created friends (insiders) to help me survive. They are my little heroes. How truly sad it would be if my big self could not be as courageous and creative to find a way for us all to stay alive. Strength in numbers is my net of hope here.
* Ice cream. My one little one says … ice cream and lots of it. Guess my basket is going to have to have a freezer section in it!
Anthrax, I am so glad you have a safety net. It is hard to balance sometimes. I, too, have physical/medical issues that need a safety net in the same way that I need one for my heart and spirit and for my insiders.
I wonder what other people have as safety nets. I would like to think that we can have LOTS of safety nets. As many as we need…like a whole BASKET of safety nets!
ME+WE, thank you so much for the oh, so touching response. This journey of looking for bits of wisdom is one I am on as well. I am so often stunned by the simple wisdom to be found all around me….and also within me.
Have you heard of concept of “wise mind?” I am tip-toeing my way about it and just learning but it can be helpful. “Wise Mind” is “the middle way” where there is a balance or an overlap or integration between emotion and reason. Linehan states, “Wise mind is that part of each person that can know and experience truth. It is where the person knows something to be true or valid.”
We need to teach Peace to our children. We need to teach Wisdom. And Compassion. Perhaps these can be more safety nets. How do help our suicidal insiders find safety nets? Maybe we model it for them. Maybe we find a way to help them speak their truth. Maybe we find the courage to witness their truth. There has to be a way or many ways. I am curious to hear what other people find helpful.
My T has encouraged my insiders to write and journal and color and draw pictures. Whatever they need to have a place in this circle of healing. I am just beginning down that path. Baby steps. It scares me and brings me hope at the same time.
Yay for a middle way that lets us bear witness to our lives, acknowledge our truth and move forward, step by sometimes hesitant step, into hope and healing. Yay for baskets of safety nets!
Oh Wren … what a beautiful, heartfelt post full of such remarkably poignant expressions of your journey —
“But compassion goes deep into the bones into the space where peace breathes. It helps untangle the knots.”
“I’m trying to envision comfort as a hammock in the trees… gently supporting, gently rocking, a place to retreat to. A safe path forward.”
“I know how to dance with suicide. But I am learning that hanging on to it keeps me stuck and keeps me from doing the work I need to do.”
Your words took my breath away they are so touching, so deeply resonating and so full of hopeful. So much wisdom for me to take in and try to adapt as my own. Thank you for sharing your journey here.
I do want to give an added shout out to my friends here who may, like me, have insiders that are the suicidal ones or who may wish to harm/destroy others in the system. I wonder how we can teach them some of the words of encouragement that Wren has offered.
we have diabetes t1. apparently bits will fall off and we don’t want to be in that body. so we too have a safety net.
Suicide has always been my safety net. If I just couldn’t take it anymore I could quit. In a strange way it helped me to keep going because I knew I could quit anytime I needed to. That’s kind of a dark place but comforting in a strange way.
So maybe I don’t have to quit. Maybe I can find a different way to handle those dark feelings of “I can’t take it anymore. There is no hope.”
My T is helping me with self-compassion so that compassion can replace suicide as my safety net as I open up all these locked doors. It will be safer and easier to do the work that I need to. I find it really uncomfortable but I’m beginning to trust her wisdom in this.
Compassion is a much deeper thing, at least for me, and more intimate than comfort. Comfort can be good but sometimes it’s not enough, really. And some things that I find comforting may not be healthy. But compassion goes deep into the bones into the space where peace breathes. It helps untangle the knots. For a long time I have been afraid of comfort because it meant that there was something that needed comforting…something terrible had happened. I didn’t want to look at it. My T is helping me to look at comfort differently…as a positive thing instead of something to be afraid of. I’m trying to envision comfort as a hammock in the trees… gently supporting, gently rocking, a place to retreat to. A safe path forward.
I’m not there yet, but I can see it might be possible. And that is something. That’s actually quite a lot.
I had no idea that such a thing was even possible. But there it is. Giving up the idea of suicide as an option is not easy. It’s familiar to me. I like having it in my back pocket. I know how to dance with suicide. But I am learning that hanging on to it keeps me stuck and keeps me from doing the work I need to do. At least that is what it is like for me.
Suicide happens when the pain of living is worse than the pain of dying for the person. I have made quite a few suicide attempts. When I’m not in that pain racked place I’m glad I did not succeed however when I’m in pain so severe I cannot think in a straight line, that’s when it happens. If I am asked today do you want to die the answer is no I don’t. However when I’m in the depths of depression I would say yes I do. The other thing society and helping professionals are not good at doing its telling people who have attempted suicide it’s ok to change your mind. It took over forty years for a health professional to tell me that. Up until that point I always thought that was how I would die. I have now changed my mind!
Laura Rohrer Brooks says
First, let me say that I believe that when someone attempts/commits suicide, it’s because suicide has become the only thing the could do, like the end result ultimatum at the end of a long tunnel of pain, the only door to choose: helpless not to. I tried to at 2-1/2 years old, after massive abuse from both my parents. the bottle of Bayer’s children’s aspirin didn’t cut it and I remember just feeling very sick, hiding under my bed, a thunderstorm outside. At 10 I found my mother OD’d on sleeping pills, and was able to call the police – she went to the hospital, her stomach was pumped, and she lived. (How often after that did I actually regret saving her, she was so abusive to all of us – I had three younger brothers – maybe our lives would have turned out better, maybe a loving uncle would have adopted us… the thoughts of a child/young teenager actually being the little mother raising her brothers while functional alcoholic mother worked nights and drank and slept days). When he was 3 weeks shy of 21 and I was 24, my closest brother Charlie succeeded in his suicide. I had had a waking premonition (vision?) of it the night before and it happened. Exactly. 24 hours later.
Then just last September, my mother died. My youngest brother bought a rope, made a noose, told me his plan. I had him taken into protective custody. Then the other surviving brother unraveled completely and I took him to the very same hospital I took the other brother to, All in the space of 3 weeks.
Now it is April, and in January I – for the first time in my life (I am 55) had to hospitalize myself. I could not stop crying… could not think of anything else but not feeling this pain anymore. I could not walk past the kitchen knife block.
I fight to live because I love my children an grandchildren.
In the lives of person’s, if we imagine rooms, hallways, paths, I wish that there was no door that overtakes someone with the word SUICIDE on it. That’s how it feels to me.
Like it’s The Hall We Should Never Walk Down. I love my family too much to go down it.
I hope my comment was understandable, I was proofreading it went my computer started crashing, it had been on all night, so I hope you all can understand it, any questions, just ask
I dunno, I have D.I.D. from sexual abuse and emotional abuse from parents, family and priest abuse and I struggle with suicidal thoughts and feelings often and my therapist is doing his best to keep me going and my new pastor also is doing his best to keep me going. I find D.I.D. to be excruciatingly painful because of constant daily haunting of the abuse. My parents are both gone now mom just about 3 yrs ago from dementia, but when she was alive we did NOT have a mother daughter relationship, tho she claimed she loved me, we did not really interact until she developed dementia/alzeihmers in her 80’s. When I was a teenager she almost killed me beating me and realized it when she asked my dad to step in because she was afraid she would kill me so he gave me one swift club of his hand to the back of my head and that was all it took to her repeated beatings, his one beating by hand was no different but it was better than many of hers, for which I might add I eventually developed brain damage. All these beatings lead up to my first suicide attempt at home as a teenager for which I called a friend of mine who was a priest and he called my parents and into the hospital I went for days. In there a suicidal patient found a way to tie a bathrobe tie around their neck just after bed checks and we were on a locked unit too. I have never stopped struggling with suicide, it is as if someone where inside or someone inside is pushed inside by some thing right now that cannot be stopped similar to menapause I am now going through and have been going through, when a hot flash comes all I can do is brace myself for it and wait until it passes, which it does do, it’s just very rough while it goes through its course and I sweat horribly until it passes or it’s like a seizure which just comes on and you ride it out until it passes. Suicide is like that, it comes on for a while then either gets worse or tapers down. The push either strengthens for which you get help or diminishes and lessens and you work with your counselor to try to work through it for another day. I have been there when a friend wanted to die and I have struggled with them through it and talked with them about it and strongly encouraged them to hang in there. I have also been there after a person has gone through with it and I know how it feels to lose someone to suicide and I was SO SAD when they did it, I hate it when people get angry with me for wanted to do it, since they do not have D.I.D. they cannot possibly understand what I live with and MOST Dr have NO clue about it and there IS NO support system because of the denial in the medical community of even it’s legitimacy as a mental health diagnosis so for many the critics are the one’s in the medical field which is where you would turn if you want to kill yourself and they are not very understanding of a contraversial diagnosis to begin with so they are not sympathetic about it at all when you are going through flashbacks, triggers, amnesia, memories or switching into other personalities including children parts when you are 60 yrs old and the like. So rather than others trying to scold people for feeling that way, compassion goes a lot further. Yes I struggle with should I or shouldn’t I get it over with and I have a therapist and now a new pastor who is excellent with understanding D.I.D. and he IS to me an exceptional minister in the Lutheran Church to be sure, I find this Disorder to be most difficult to live with and it is difficult for those around me. I am very appreciative of my new friend in Jesus Christ and he also does his best along with my counselor to keep me going, why I don’t know, but so far I am still here typing this long comment because suicide is serious on everyone side, those who want to die and those family and friends and therapists and pastors and Drs , however as one who gets suicidal I find compassion, gentleness, occasional kick in the pants helpful, love, patience, caring and understanding and talking about it goes a long way, and MOST often keeps one with D.I.D. alive hopefully until the next suicidal thought or feeling should develop and they get help again to continue their journey through life
Well, Kathy, I have children, three beautiful and smart and intense daughters.
And I have suicidal ideations. And my husband has had suicidal gestures.
There have been times, when I had to read stories about children who’s mothers have committed suicide, just to know exactly how it would devastate my daughters if I took my own life. I still wanted to…but I kept thinking about how the rest of their lives might go. Eventually, the feelings passed.
this is what I think about suicide:
I’ve had suicidal ideation off and on since I was ten – due to childhood trauma and relationship trauma. I rarely acted on them (bought sleeping pills but never took them). Usually if I got really suicidally depressed, I would just ride it out. For me, I just have one or two days of intense hell, then it passes. Thank goodness. Most of it was due to hashimoto’s thryoiditis which has made me have symptoms mimicking bipolar and an underlying adrenal fatigue. That was due to life-long stress from being the child of a narcissist and an alcoholic father/stepfather and having a husband who was a binge drinker and 3 children in 3.5 years and quitting my job in a genetics lab to be a stay at home mother. The combination of things just was very difficult. All the unprocessed pain of childhood trauma came back in full force.
My husband has had a few suicide gestures. The last one, last December, rendered me mute and was PTSD. I was having flashbacks. Not of his suicide gesture…but of my ENTIRE LIFE. All of the bad things that ever happened were being showed to me in picture form kind of like a viewmaster set at a rapid speed. At one point, I was in such a bad place – not depressed…just not real anymore, I took an unloaded gun and placed it to my temple. I wanted to think about what it might be like. No matter how hard life got, I couldn’t do it.
That was when I entered into therapy. I knew I was at risk. I knew more than the therapist did because I was researching a lot on my own. But I needed the validating presence and we also had a bit of couples and some family therapy sessions, just to make sure the kids had some time to have play therapy.
Right now, I about 60 percent of my time is spent on my recovery and self-care.
My self care included just about all of these on that list, with the exception of the sensorimotor therapy. I have had other body modality treatments like somato-emotional release and myofascial release. It’s good stuff that gets to the trapped tissue memories of trauma. Fortunately, my husband has been trained as a massage therapist and in SER, so, I get free sessions whenever I need.
I’ve just ended therapy yesterday because my therapist is moving, and have given Al-anon a try. I’ve been to three sessions so far. Mostly because I need a safe place to be and talk about some of the crazy crap I had enabled and I need perspective. I don’t have friends anymore, so this is a safe place to come to to be and share without judgment.
Anyway…I just thought I’d share a little of my experience with you.
Hope you are doing okay, kiyacat.
Sometimes things get so bad. And theres nobody to reach out to for help. Theres just nobody. And theres never anywhere to go. Ever. Things can get worse that you can ever explain to anyone and no one knows whats happening and youre so alone and you know no one can help. So its an option.sometimes its the only choice. No one knows how bad things can get.
Fin ofPhoenix says
If someone really wants to die, they will find a way. Suicide is still an option for those who decide it because of society. Until we realize that we are responsible for each other, people will continue to suicide. The issues of suicide are complex and not easily solved in a society that uses power and privilege to meet their own needs and interests. Religious,health/mental health and political systems are the worst offenders of such power and privilege. Pharmaceutical companies, medical institutions, religious organizations, and even mental health providers often cause the on-going complexities of suicidal choice. Until we stop practices that are sanctioned in society (i.e. seclusion & restraint, poor counseling techniques/counselors, medical hierarchical structures and health systems who ignore trauma informed and recovery practices) we don’t stand a chance in hell to effect change. The best thing I can do is ensure that I always make sure people feel like that matter to me.
And you have to post this now??? 4 days before thanksgiving??? One of the most stressful American holidays of the year? AND with a bridge pic??? Damnit.
I’ve ended up inpatient the last 3 years after turkey day over suicide. My therapist was going to make special arrangements to see me this Friday until I realized it’s Black Friday and I’m not going out there.
Not but 3 or 4 months ago, one of “mine” drove when we were sui and climbed such a bridge. Got her feet to that middle bar (already at shoulder height), watching the 2am freeway traffic glide beneath us. It wasn’t her first choice of the night, but a cop had passed us and she left before he could come back.
I was just thinking I wouldn’t be going to anymore DID support meetings until after the holidays because this is already a bad time for us with daily abuse during this time. It’s on Sat and I had a twinge- smack dab in between this “time”, turkey day, not seeing my T, and an anniversary of my own dearest dying, I thought ‘well, maybe..” And then I opened my email.
Pausing- I’m sorry you lost someone tragically and unexpectedly. That is horrible. I wish you hadn’t connected the two – that and this topic, almost thrown out there. Almost angry, it seems. And you’ll be in grief and not a support person for this …this … Fork in the gut.
“Mine” have been stuck in limbo for a while, but I can feel their rage and the wanting to throw the glass at my elbow is strong. Even our DID group therapy broke up over thus topic; it was to dangerous to look at. People stopped coming.
YES we/they deal with it every damn day. Yes it is difficult. Yes, looking at the very word riles up the saboteurs and invites them to try again -yet alone the image! And those fences now going up on every bridge in town.
Having lost three very special people to suicide; one being a teenager, one in their 20’s and one in their 40’s, I am disgusted at the “how selfish” judgements made about the final choice they made (for two of them, probably the *only* active choice they made). Their pain was unbearable, and their futures were too full of dread for them to take, on top of what they endured in life.
I loved all three of them, and still do.
Having been *saved* from two suicide attempts, which resulted in a brain injury &all that goes with that and a huge amount of surgery, did not feel “grateful” to have been saved. I had good reason to end my life, and since then have lived with the consequences of being saved aswell as the injuries I aquired. Oh, then there’s yet another layer of shame.
Suicidal thoughts have been a constant companion since freedom was acquired. Should those suicidal thoughts develop into suicidal ideation, I will not ‘seek help’ since it is not there to be sought and taking my own life would be my responsibility; by asking for help, it would feel like I was laying partial responsibility on someone elses shoulders.
Fact is, while the people I have lost to suicide are very valuable to me, their lives meant nothing to anyone reading here, or to most people in the world; neither do their deaths. My life is equally unimportant, as are most.
Kathy Broady says
Reblogged this on Discussing Dissociation and commented:
This post was recently reblogged elsewhere, which meant I came and had a look at it again. It’s been a few years since I wrote this article, and frankly, I had completely forgotten about it. However, I have had a death in my family this week — not a suicide, but a tragic, unexpected death — so with those thoughts on my mind, I’d like to hear more about what you all think about death and suicide.
I KNOW most trauma survivors with Dissociative Identity Disorder struggle with suicidal thoughts and feelings, for all kinds of different reasons. It happens. A lot.
What do you think about suicide?
There isnt hope. There isnt, there never was.
And maybe sometimes suicide is the only answer left when things keep getting worse.
And suicide hotline are a total joke..they keep you on hold for 20 minutes or more, the people answering know NOTHING about DID or real abuse, and they are probably reading from a script. If caller says this, then respond with this. Its a freaking joke.
And there is no one left to help
And we are completely invisible
And there isnt anyone around to hear you scream anyway
Nothing matters anyway. Who cares if we die. Who cares.
Sorry for the stupid fucking post. You can erase it. Nothing matters. Nothing. I need to fucking disappear off the planet.
i think it only does bad things to your family if you have a nice family
if you have a family that is not nice then they dont care or are happy.
i am sorry that your friends did that and it made you sad.
some times i think about it.
but i had some friends kill themselves in high school. one friend shot himself in the mouth with a gun. he lived in my old house. he did it in my bedroom. and one friend took a bunch of sleeping pills. another one was just a guy a knew in the same youth group and he shot himself after our friend died in a motorcyle crash. i saw what it did to their families, after. i dont want to do that to my parents. or the person that would find me.that’s a terrible thing to do to a person. as much as i wish things would end sometimes.its a bad thing to do to your family.
our stepdad’s sister died over the weekend. she took an accidental overdose. none of us know what’s true right now. it put stepdad back in the hospital today. he almost had a heart attack, but they caught it and put another stent in his heart. we don’t have to go to the funeral now. she was 50. sometimes it’s easier to lie than admit what’s so damn obvious.
we hurt. we’re confused. it’s been a very long day for all of us. now we know why they canceled with us on Sunday. they weren’t going to tell.
rip Jenifer, someone out here loves you no matter what.
we’re so so sorry they hurt you so much.
This topic has been long forgotten except for this JP out here reading at 3:20. I have many perspectives on this one. 1. I’ve been run ragged by someone I consider a friend who constantly threatens suicide. I show up for her out of fear because at this point nobody else will. 2. My father threatened to kill HIMSELF, not me, because he knew which of my buttons to push. He threatened to kill himself if I ever told what was happening. At some point I did tell because I thought I was going to die. He’s alive and living quite nicely in his lake house. I’m sure he never even thinks about what that did to me looking at him with phoney tears in his eyes and a gun up to his mouth. No flipping clue. 3. In a completely dissociated state one of my alters tried to kill the body. Out of some miracle of DID physiology I woke up three days later. I’ve hurt people in my life, sometimes being irrational and stupid, but I’ve never hurt anyone as much as I hurt my best friend. I didn’t know until about six months ago how much that terrified her, how she didn’t understand why I hadn’t called her. I couldn’t explain it to her. All I could do is ask for forgiveness and hope that someday she won’t fear for me. I know she does. And I know what that fear feels like.
Today I think, okay, this is really not a very happy existence of late. It’s hard to brush my teeth some days. Sometimes I’m in the same clothes for five days straight because my brain is too fried to care about doing it differently, because my body can’t bear the thoughts of water on me, but I have a choice to stay alive and I do. I have good reason not to want to be alive lately, really choice, prime crappola. But here’s my thinking about this. I don’t have kids, but I have little bitty scared kids inside me that deserve better than one more person scaring them and crapping out. I have kids inside that look out for littler ones and I honestly don’t know where they learned that (probably TV). Some would argue they’re all part of me and I get that but you know what? They deserve better. I won’t do it to them. Maybe I’m a clumsy old dolt who can’t leave my house to get a CD out of her car because someone is outside on the sidewalk and it really does scare me stupid, but in THIS house there is some measure of safety. In this house there is love. In this house there is a deep regard for these kids in my world who took a whole lot of crap so I could make a choice to see Avatar on my one brave day in 9 months. They are reflections of my hope and if I kill me, I kill my hope and I just won’t do that. The buck stops here.
I don’t mean to be judgemental of the moms here who “explained” to their children that IF they committed sucide it didn’t mean they were loved or it was their fault. This really falls apart because WE ALL KNOW if anybody knows that you can not just tell someone it is not your fault and have it accepted! It sure is not the easy. I do know that it sets a horrible example of failure to the kids, too. Like here, this is an option for you, which is probably why when a kid sees a parent or family member commit suicide they are much more likely to commit suicide themselves.
I also think the kids given the “suicide talk” would feel very insecure. In the subconscious mind one would wonder IF, IF I should express my feelings totally or get mad or be real with mom.. WILL she do this?? If I take care of my own needs, will see do this? It gives them guilt and anxiety to carry everyday and night. To me a parent committing suicide is the ultimate form of childabuse. Really it is the Ultimate Abandonment that says I care more about my pain than I care about my offspring cause I can deny the pain I will cause.
I may sound harsh but this is what I believe. One doesn’t have to look very far into nature to see how we are all so interconnected and suicide ripplies down to hurt generations just like child abuse does.
I also know that no matter how big our pain is we do have blogs, therapists, books, online groups, helplines, and hospitals that do know about this disorder now. I guess I feel we have to take the opportunity to heal as we are the lucky ones in the evolution of this species we are the first in all of those generations of women before us who really did not have ANY resources to help like we do now. We survived for a reason. To give up is pointless, weak, and cruel.
“I don’t mean to be judgemental”
“To give up is weak, pointless, and cruel”
If you were going to end your post with that sentence, try not to be pretentious with your introduction. If you’re going to make judgements, just make them without hiding behind the “I don’t mean to be this way” excuse.
i’m afraid i’d go to hell if i committed suicide. as tempting as it is.
and, we have our niece and nephew… we don’t want our sister to have to tell them what happened. that might leave a bad legacy for them. who wants to have an aunt that killed herself? thats the only reason i’m alive sometimes.that, and i don’t know if God would forgive me.
For our system it is no abuse to RL children (others’ and any we may someday have) and no abuse to our husband. It was one of the things that got us to stop smoking- realizing that smoking around our husband would be abusive to him (as second hand smoke is so dangerous). Plus he said he wouldn’t kiss us if we smoked because it was like licking an ashtray, lol.
But my point is that the whole “no abuse” code we seem to have has stopped many many bad behaviors and limited others. Which is good. And, I think it is one of the main reasons suicide can never be an option for us.
I know that this subject kind of ended a few days ago, but I went back and reread your last post. Your statement “See — as far as I am concerned, a parent of young children that commits suicide, is in fact, committing child abuse. ” Hit a home run with many of my insiders. It seems above all else, that the RL children, do NOT get abused in any way shape or form. NO MATTER WHAT. I am not sure how it works, but it does. They are spared any abuse. To redirect the whole subject, as it being those little insiders, committing an abusive act to an outside child, has seem to caught some positive attention. No I dont expect a miracle, but it does give us something to work off of.
Kathy Broady says
I was wondering if someone was going to see that phrase and pick up on it… 🙂
It’s a strong way to say it, but I am glad to hear that it has made a positive impact on your system.
And I’m really glad to hear that your system believes so very strongly in protecting your RL children from abuse. That is excellent.
Good job – keep up the good work!
I am not talking about assisted suicide here; where everyone has agreed there’s no hope of a cure and the pain is copious. I’m talking about killing ones self alone.
Suicide is a violent act against others, it causes devastation in it’s wake. Life is about the living and those left behind have to cope with the emotional trauma suicide causes.
I don’t care how much a parent prepares, if they think this preparation is enough, they have no clue how cruel an act they are committing. I’ve seen the results personally with a best friend’s children after their father thought he was making a better life for them with his life insurance. We use this all the time to grab suicidal folk in our system, don’t care about guilt, guilt can be valid and good.
As to having a child suicide, it’s gut-wrenching, crushing life altering forever painful. I can tell you that from personal experience.
And IMNSHO I don’t care if those are ‘Nazi’ cards being played.
this is where i see the problem – that the only way to help a person stay alive is by ‘guilting’ them. there are many ways a person can help someone *not* commit suicide without having to guilt trip them. there are many ways of communication that don’t resort to manipulative tactics – honoring a person’s feelings, offering alternatives to dealing with the pain, etc. it’s not one or the other!!!!!
Kathy Broady says
I guess we are just going to have to agree to disagree??? Or at least agree to be not understanding each other.
The first difference is that those questions are written within the context of days / weeks in advance of someone committing suicide. Most people I know that are suicidal, are suicidal for donkeys years before they actually do anything fatal. Now I know that is not always the case — but for DID survivors, MOST trauma survivors are chronically suicidal — there are YEARS of time that they feel suicidal. SO, in that situation, there should be plenty of time to prepare ahead of time, on behalf of the children, once a parent truly decides to kills themselves.
See, I don’t see the questions you quoted as “guilt-inducing” anyway. Those are just reality-based questions – there is no emotion attached to them, and they were not written as questions to ask in the context of the “immediate suicidal crisis point”. I’m suggesting that parents should think ahead. Plan ahead. Do some preparatory work on behalf of their children. Parents really do need to think of their children, at all times, with everything they do, including suicide.
See — as far as I am concerned, a parent of young children that commits suicide, is in fact, committing child abuse. There is not much else that is more damaging and devastating to a child than to have their parent suicide. It is an emotional abuse that will haunt those children for their entire lives. SO… if a parent truly wants to suicide and if they truly do decide to inflict that level of harm on to their children, then at the very least, they can do some preparatory things ahead of time to help minimize the damaging impact their suicide will have on their children.
I’m not asking or “guilting” anyone to not commit suicide in this comment. Each parent can choose for their own self. I am saying IF YOU DO plan to kill yourself — then for goodness sakes, at least do something in advance to help your children deal with the loss and pain and devastation they will feel for the remainder of their lives.
I’m also not saying someone “has to” stay alive for their children. I’ve repeatedly said that suicide is a choice – and that if someone truly wants to die, they can and will. I agree that “guilting them” is not going to make a hill of beans worth of a difference if someone really wants to die. And that’s really not what I’m asking about or even attempting to do in those questions above.
What I am saying… is if someone is a parent of young children, they have a responsibility to those children. And if a parent KNOWS they are going to commit suicide, then they still have a responsibility to their children — to do something before they die, on behalf of those children.
Can I ask you if you have children?? (see, I really know nothing about you… so I don’t know where you are coming from…) If you do have children, and clearly you have been repeatedly seriously severely suicidal, how are you handling that situation where your children are concerned?
As a mother to young and older and grown children, I can say that I have taken many many steps to prepare them.
The subject has always been an open one. When there is a suicide on TV, the news or happening locally, we discuss it. The possible reasons why, how effects people, what they think about it, how they would feel if someone they knew did it. Their older brother did attempt suicide, so that opened the conversation more. It is not a taboo subject in our home. There is a rule, as children they have used the statement, “I am going to kill myself” as an over statement of frustration. So a lot of time has been taken to explain the reasons why you dont use that statement unless that is what you mean. It is one that needs to be taken seriously and not throw around.
I have spent many hours and years making sure that if I am not here, for any reason, that the kids know what they mean to me. Some of those preparations also includes things that if I die by suicide, they will know the reasons why (not depression) and how it is not their fault.
I do not kid myself into thinking that they would not be effected. But if it happens, I hope that some of the impact would be cushioned or easier to deal with.
My guilt (or love) about my children, is the only reason I havent. But lots of steps have been taken, so if it does happen, then they will be prepared, as much as possible.
If a parent of a young child is depressed and is suicidal because of depression, then I think that they need to be questioned about the preparations they have made for their children. That is not “guilting” them but putting them in the frame of mind of a responsible parent. Reminding them that their children need to have certain things in place before they can carry out their plans.
If a person is suicidal because of depression, I think any and all steps should be taken to get them help. I am guessing that a huge majority of people fit in this category
If a person is suicidal for other reasons, then that is a different matter.
LOL……I think I am starting to talk in circles, so I will end this.
I have an 11 year old alter (Smoke), who, like Castorgirl’s small one, is exceptionally gifted and wholly capable of ending her life. She hasn’t the intellect, however, of fully understanding death.
Because of Smoke’s fear of the world around her, I live in constant wariness of dieing. I have had this conversation with my 28 year old daughter. I have told her that I love her. I HAVE MADE MY GOODBYES. We discussed that someday, Smoke’s need to disappear might be so big, she cannot see past it. That was 3 years ago.
That afternoon began creating an emotional conduit between Smoke and my daughter (it’s difficult to explain). I don’t know that a small child has the capacity to understand the permanence of death/dying.
My daughter had the chance to interact with me about the possibility of suicide, while it broke my heart, it somehow changed things for Smoke. My daughter didn’t beg us not to do it. She was calm while she told me she understood, but that she didn’t want us to go. Her unconditional love for me, got through to Smoke because my daughter knows and understands Smokes origin and situation – she knows suicide is NOT about her.
But, yes, I think some sort of closure might ease the pain of a child feeling abandoned and unloved. The only problem is I believe it would be harmful for a child to live in constant fear the parent is about to “go away”. It’s a tough roller coaster.
A goodbye video might be helpful to the parent in processing reasons for doing it, and give the parent a chance to change his or her mind, while keeping the child safe in the event it doesn’t happen. It could be part of a “step” program.
I think a lot of people choose suicide because they have no other controllable area of their life. A “step” program might be helpful by which the child is not told of impending death, but reminded they would be loved by the remaining parent (or guardian) in their absence. The child would know who might take care of him or her and would know who was available to turn to and where he or she would be living and going to school, etc. All without knowing.
Another step might allow the child the chance to voice opinion, as my daughter did, and interact with questions and concerns. If the parent agreed to go through the “step” program before suiciding, the child would not be surprised with so much of the unknown. I think for a child, death is not about someone being forever gone, but about “who will love me, how am I to survive.”
After all, has society not had good luck with teaching small children to dial 911 and how to talk to the person who answers?
Got a headache,
Kathy Broady says
Thank you, everyone, for writing so many well-thought out responses on this thread.
Castorgirl and Ivory —
I am writing a response to the idea of suicidal child parts right now. I hope to have that posted soon as my next official “blog topic.” Excellent topic, by they way. Thanks for bringing that issue into our discussion.
Juliewtf, you have done some really good work with your children. Thanks for sharing that — you sound like a very caring mother to me, and your children are fortunate to have you as their mother. And yes, I hope everyone who is suffering from severe depression gets the help and treatment they need before following through with their suicidal thoughts….
Ok — back to writing my post about child parts that are suicidal. More again soon!
I wonder how important it is to bring the consequences of a suicide to the person who is in the depths of the pain required to think of suicide as a valid option? Purely from my own experiences, that sort of conversation can go around in a big circle that is just waiting for mis-understandings to occur. When we are in that place we have no concept that anyone would miss us or be even slightly affected by our suicide. We’re practical enough to know that a suicide is can be physically messy – hence plans that involve no violence to the body. We know that it will inconvenience others at work – hence plans to suicide over a weekend… The list goes on. But there is absolutely no concept that the suicide would affect anyone emotionally. We have no effective support network around us and don’t want a memorial of any sort, so we consider that we would soon be forgotten.
We have had conversations where we’ve been told that we needed to think about those around us, or those who would be affected by our suicide. Depending on how this has been presented, it has felt more like a guilt trip rather than someone caring. It relies greatly on the motivation for the conversation as to how it is interpreted by the person contemplating suicide. It is easy to turn the conversation into one where the message becomes “so now you’re going to inconvenience us by committing suicide”.
The type of conversation that is the most effective in helping a person through those depths, is the sort of conversation that David describes. It’s one thing to say “I’m your friend and I’d miss you if you were gone”; but if you stay with that person until the need/urge has eased, then there is a true indication of what will be lost if the suicide is completed.
There is also a further complication with DID. One of our most suicidal ones is 8 years old. She is motivated, intelligent and more than capable of carrying out her plans. If you talked about others missing her if she was gone, you’re talking to a part that doesn’t have the cognitive ability to grasp that concept. Her world is a very literal one.
We’ve also sat through morning teas at work after others within the organisation had committed suicide. It was interesting to hear that a majority of the time, the conversation revolves around how the person who committed suicide was weak and pathetic. It was rather soul destroying to sit there and listen to these well educated women talk about the weak person who destroyed the lives of those around them. I wish we’d had the courage to ask where those people were for that person before they committed suicide.
Ivory, one of the factors that prevent us from committing suicide is our cat. Sometimes a previous therapist would use her to try and break the suicidal thought patterns.
Kathy Broady says
So…. let me throw out another question or two or three to everyone….
If a parent of young children is suicidal, and intends to follow through with those suicidal plans to final completion, but does not want to be “guilted” into staying alive “because of the children”……
What steps should that suiciding parent do to minimize the impact of their death on the children?
Should that suicidal parent do or say some sort of goodbye with the children?
What do you think the children would need in order to healthily move past this tragedy in their lives?
Sometimes, when I think to die is better than living, it is because of my daughter. She is going thru hell because of me (DID). She blames her dad for everything that’s consuming me; he is only responsible for trying to commit me during the divorce (mind games).
Yes, my daughter is my world, but she is 28 years old and needs space to live her own life. I often believe it would be better for her to grieve my existence than to continue on this uncontrollable roller coaster.
She has accompanied me to several sessions with my T, so yes, he is aware of our close relationship. Whenever he mentions her in other difficult sessions, I feel I’ve been slammed dunked. But that brings up another common thread in all these entries: At the time I wish to die, and even tho I might have though about my daughter to begin with, I am not thinking of how someone else will feel because of what I’m about to do. I am not thinking of someone else – AT ALL. At that point, it’s all about me.
Afterwords, when I wake up the next day, I’m grateful that I trust my T so much. (He is also aware I read and comment to this Blog.)
I just wanted to say that I think there is a difference between bringing the effects of their potential suicide to a person’s attention and trying to control their behavior with guilt. In the first instance, you are letting them know people care and giving more information to think about if they are able. In the second, you are blaming them for choosing suicide, and indirectly blaming them for the pain they are in.
Kathy Broady says
Yes, Gobbies, very good point.
The distinction of making a free but informed choice is possible and allowed, and it is important to also remember and/or accept the consequences of that decision.
If people want to decide to suicide, they can, and will. There is total freedom to decide that, despite any and all effort made by others.
And I totally agree, that when making decisions, it is important to remember that every decision has consequences on ourselves, and very often on the people around us.
Sometimes people do decide to do something that they think is best for themselves, even if it is hurtful for other people. On a simpler level, we see that in divorces and relationship break-up’s as an everyday thing. One person will divorce the other, and even if that causes a tremendous amount of pain for that other person, or even for the children of the household, the divorcing partner may still maintain the decision that the divorce is important enough to complete, even if other people are hurt by it.
It is not a comparison of who’s pain is better or worse, or more important, or who is or isn’t guilty, etc.
Our decisions in life (or death) do affect other people.
There really is an impact on someone else — sometimes for the positive, sometimes for the negative.
I logged back on intending only to read the remaining posts.
My T always reminds me of my daughter and instead of bringing me “to my senses”, I then add guilt to the already overwhelming emotions that have brought to this place of desperation, but maybe that is what it takes for me not to…
David – you are a White Knight. I bet there hasn’t been one day pass that your friend hasn’t thought of you and your commitment to her all those frightening days.
Kathy Broady says
Maybe the love and caring you have for your daughter actually is stronger than the desperation you feel? Your daughter obviously means a lot to you, and I encourage you to hold on to and explore the idea that maybe that love is stronger than you realize. It might be hard to fathom that anything could be stronger than the pain you feel, but maybe… the love you feel is bigger. Maybe??
Just a thought to think about …..
I have actually been the person on the receiving end of that call on two occasions; one of the people who called me was in a situation very similar to the one described, except that she was bipolar, rather than DID. However, she had been fired due to a drinking problem, was being beaten by her boyfriend every time he saw her, and had just lost custody of her child. She was living on the opposite end of the country, so going to her house to keep her safe wasn’t an option. She was an editing client of mine, and not a close friend.
There are all kinds of things a person could or maybe even should say in that situation; it’s easy to guess at what you’d say, or to come up with the “perfect” thing on paper. It’s very different when you’re actually on the receiving end of that call.
In my case, I told her that I knew how she felt, because I did; I’ve been suicidal on many occasions. I didn’t say anything judgmental about whom she would hurt if she left; nor did I try to talk her into believing that her life was worthwhile … because frankly, it was a piece of shit at the time. What I did tell her was that even if she couldn’t see it right now, there was hope for change in her life … that I knew she didn’t believe me, and that I knew she couldn’t feel it, but to try to hold onto the fact that a comparative stranger thousands of miles away from her was willing to answer the phone and cared enough about her to keep her on the line as long as I needed to. And that I was pretty sure I wasn’t the only person in the whole world who cared about her, or who would ever care about her; if I cared, then she was worth caring about.
I asked her to stay on the phone with me until she could genuinely tell me that the immediate need to take action had passed. I was on the phone with her for six hours, I think … and I knew she would be OK when I was able to make her laugh.
I spent many subsequent hours on the phone and on IM with her. A couple of months ago, she got married to the kindest, gentlest man imaginable,who worships the ground she walks on. She certainly could never have envisioned that future on the night when she called me with a bottle of scotch in one hand and a bottle of Vicodin in the other.
Thank you for sharing! Your post has helped me to get through my day in one piece 😀
I am so glad that you came here and that David’s comments spoke so meaningfully to you. Reading between the lines, you are sounding very fragile and on the edge right now. So many of us here have been where you are and know a bit about what you may be feeling right now. This is not to diminish your feelings (not a me too thing) because they are so very important to us all (well, most of us I would venture to say … certainly to me). I just want you to know that you are valued here, that we care about what may have brought you to this webpage in the first place and we are certainly here to support you. You are not alone Megan. And please, if you are feeling like you cannot get off the edge of the abyss, reach out to the help in your community (friends, family, crisis phone lines, the hospital, whatever you need). Sending positive healing energy your way.
Thank you so much. I’ve been doing better so far.
I just needed some time to make sure I didn’t plan anything rash.
This is a very sensitive subject and one well discussed. I can only speak for myself, but suicide is a constant companion ever ready to help me along the way.
I am so discouraged to keep hearing how the survivors of suicides need to be considered. To me, that is like saying, “Please, live so that I might not feel your pain. Live and suffer so that I don’t have to.” Selfish, I know, but that’s how it sounds.
I feel like society treats DID as if we have snakes for hair and pushes us to the point where we realize we no longer have a safe place to hide. We are left with no other choices. Society has helped to create our DID, and then pushes us to end it by taking away our God given right to thrive by forcing responsibility on us to “get over it”. We should be treating the cause, not just the symptom.
When I want to end it all, what I would like to hear most is, “Let me take responsibility for what happened to you.” I know who is really responsible, but I also know they will never be held accountable or stand up and take responsibility. There is no way I can ever hold anyone accountable, no way I can yell and scream at someone, and I so badly want to. I want to believe someone will take that weight from me, because I feel responsible as only a small child can and just like that child, I cannot let it go.
Okay, it’s midnight and I have to go to bed, but I”ll take a stab at it.
SP, I hear you. It feels helpless and hopeless and like you have no one there for you. You don’t know how you are even going to survive financially day to day, much less emotionally. I do hear you. I do care and I will never stop caring about you personally and about your children either, who desperately need their own mother’s love. That may be hard to believe, but it is the total and absolute truth. I can say this because I have intimately known desperate pain. I have intimately known various forms of abuse. I have known the helplessness and hopelessness of wanting to die and I have known the desperate pain of all kinds of losses. But I now also know the way to healing and hope. I know beyond a shadow of doubt that when all is hopeless, hope still lives in the world everyday. I know it through the smile of a child. I know it through the loving look of a hurting mother as she picks up her temper tantruming child in the store aisle and says I know you hurt so very badly and are so terribly hurt and mad at me, yet I love you forever and always and we will get through this. I know it through the love of those who have loved me into healing, when I thought it was impossible. I will do everything in my power to stay with you and be your companion on the healing journey. I will help you find help for yourself and for your children. They won’t be better off without you because you will leave a gaping hole in their lives that will in someway define their life. My mom killed herself will become a part of who they are no matter what happiness they find in life. Far better that if you are so sick you need the temporary safety of a hospital, that they be safe and sound with loving strangers than that they lose you forever. I know what to do. I will help you and I will help them. Will you let me??
See to me that comment goes back to, I was feeling more pain than you because I attempted suicide not just thought about it…that is like trying to quantify physcial pain…you can’t quantify either. The difference I think, first that there are so many variables and contextual factors to consider and second is coping skills, and the ability to look beyond oneself in such a crisis. Quite frankly I am offended by the comment as it diminishes the pain I feel but yet through hard work developing skills to deal with that pain I am able not to attempt suicide.
Also re guilt trip…telling someone who is suicidal that they will hurt people, and that people love them, is not mean, it is reality, and sometimes it can snap people back to the reality of good things in their lives. People at some point have to take responsibility for their feelings and or pain I mean this in the sense, learn how to cope with them. The other thing to remember quite often suicide attempts are a cry for help and not meant to be serious attempts to kill themselves, but accidents happen and they suceed in killing themselves.
For me if I truly wanted to kill myself I would not tell anyone and just do it, I think that people tell they are thinking of it, is they actually want someone to step in and help, its a desperate attempt to show people how much they are hurting, and imo sometimes can be extremely manipulative in nature be it concious or not. I realise I am taking a bit of a hard**** line here, not meaning to offend anyone, just saying it as I see it and have experienced it.
Hi Kathy. Thank you for this topic. I agree with all you’ve said. And yes, I have and am sitting with the mother and son of a man who took his life. It is devastating for them and it is devastating for me, and especially for little me, who feels the pain they feel and perhaps even more, the pain they aren’t yet capable of feeling. Their pain is, I think, far far greater than his was. He had numerous people telling him they cared and being there for him, including me. He essentially refused the help and hope that was offered him, and in his case the system failed him and the whole family. When insurance runs out and they then decide to do ECT outpatient, and that hurting person is getting no therapy and no professional is seeing him in between outpatient ECT sessions, and that person’s brain is a train wreck and ECT starts to work to provide some energy for what was not there before, that was essentially keeping him safe, and the family is unknowingly doing lots of things “wrong” that are feeding passive aggressive personality traits and terribly suppressed rage, then WTF were those ECT docs thinking???? WTF were the managed care people thinking???? And is his family entitled to anger and hurt and do they have terrible guilt they should not have? You bet. The devastation he has left behind is terrible. Terrible. Incalculable. You know, when I was a tiny little girl “wanting” to die, and later on a teen “wanting” to die, and later on an adult “wanting” to die, I never did. I never even tried, no matter how grossly intrusive were the suicidal thoughts, and no matter how helpless and hopeless I thought I felt. And I did. Terribly so. But the wonderful God-given defenses of dissociation and the inability to not have seething painful crying bouts that called for suicide and yet also called for hope somehow and released the internal tension of pain and anger somehow protected me. There was hope within and will within that I knew nothing about then. And Love. I did not want to hurt anyone and I knew I would. In childhood it was my dog and my sister. I did not want to hurt my dog and sister. I would imagine the terrible loneliness I felt inside and know the hours and hours I spent laying beside my lonely dog at the top of the stairs, and I did not want to leave even my dog alone. I knew what loneliness and helplessness felt like and I didn’t want anyone else to feel that, even a freeking dog. Now I’m crying. So there was love somehow, and God somehow, and hope somehow. And thank God I feel that hope now even more as I begin to see the dropping of dissociative walls and feel the internal communication and that little me has some company in all of our/her pain. So, I just don’t even begin to sanction in any way shape or form the “right” to die. Hopeless people need help and I believe society has a responsibility to provide that: to not allow the pain to run rampant and unchecked and weenie out by saying some people have the “right” to die. Sorry, palliative care for pain is here now. Even the Churches most against “assisted suicide” or what have you, recognize that there is no excuse for unbearable physical pain and allow the use of dosages of pain killers that might cause earlier death but for the use of them. They do NOT agree that someone should die in unbearable physical pain. Which means that they also want society to accept its responsibility for all people and for protecting them. And I believe we as a society have to accept responsibility for helping those in unbearable emotional pain too. It should not be allowed to fester unchecked. So I believe we all have a responsibility to do what we can within our roles to help others. That is what we are doing here and on other sites. We are trying to reach and help others. And so . . .that is me . . parts of all of me . . .crying for the pain of humanity and insisting we have a responsibility to help. There should be no excuse for either unbearable physical or emotional pain. There should be help available. And those of us in the know about dissociation know unbearable pain and the need to develop defenses to protect from it and so I hope we all accept both the responsiblity to care for ourselves first and then to reach out to others, within our ability to do so. And I hope to God that we do not weenie out on anyone and believe our pain gives us the right to hurt others. Because that is wrong. I knew it when I was a tiny girl and I still know it now. So I urge anyone out there who is in pain, desperate pain, to reach for help and hope that keeps you ALIVE. IT is worth it. I KNOW. Tears and Blessings, healingones . . . ones . . . because we are all healing in here and there is more than just little me crying right now. Far more than her. Thank God. And Thank those who have been helping us. Blessings to all.
i would have to disagree with your disagreement. 🙂 suicide becomes an option – even when it is *not* an option in the person’s logical/conscious/’sane’ mind – when the pain is no longer bearable. i think if you get the impression the suicidal person is in less pain than the those left behind, it’s because it’s so overwhelmed them, they are shut down – it doesn’t show…. it may not be consciously felt anymore, but it’s still there, and it’s existential pain to the core. those left behind are in pain, too, but it has a source – tragedy – and the fact that they are still coping proves their pain has not reached ‘unbearableness’. granted, the most painful pain they’ve ever experienced, in many cases…. but they are bearing it….
i think it’s utterly wrong to insinuate that a suicidal person is selfish when considering – or not *seeming* to consider – other’s feelings. when we are suicidal, we are sick. pain is clouding our mind and judgement. emphasizing guilt and accusations only makes the pain worse. we are no longer in our ‘right mind’ – because we are in too much pain to be so.
this may well be a controversial comment, but i’ll say it: to me, a person’s ‘stand’ or opinion on this topic reveals whether a they have ‘been’ there… or only observed/thought about it from the ‘outside’ – or the pain had not reached ‘unbearable’. because having been in *almost* that much pain (ie -i’m still here), i would *never ever ever* slap a guilt trip on another person for feeling the way they do – for feeling utterly overwhelmed by the pain to the point of hopelessness and wanting to end it. that’s cruel, and to me does more harm than good.
manipulating a person with guilt to get from them an acceptable behavior – what *i* want them to do or not do – is a wrong means to an end. the ends do not justify the means.
imh(or not so humble)o
Kathy Broady says
What would you say to the suicidal person (“SP”) in this situation:
SP is in her mid-thirties, has 2 school-aged children, and a long history of difficulties. SP is severely depressed, DID, has an extensive trauma history, and has very little positive family support because most of them are either abusive or mentally ill or raging alcoholics. One of SP’s most painful childhood trauma’s is being the first person to find her own mother after a lethal overdose. SP is an only child, and has been sexually abused and exploited by too many men to count. Her children have no identifiable father. She has no one she considers to be a close friend IRL, but has contact with several online friends whom she has actually never met in person.
SP is highly suicidal. She was recently fired from her day job because she is having drinking problems that were affecting her ability to work. The economy is bad so she is having a lot of trouble finding a new job. She is overwhelmed with PTSD flashbacks, internal chaos with from within her system, body memories, and constant urges to SI, etc. She is genuinely miserable, hurting, overwhelmed, feeling hopeless, etc. She feels trapped, and totally out of control.
SP has had too many hard years. Life has never been easy for her and now, losing her job and being unable to provide for her children, is just the last straw. She is ready to quit, and feels like her children would be better off without her anyway.
She contacts you with a lethal amount of pills available to her. You are the only person available to talk to her at these potential last minutes of her life.
What do you say to her?
** Please Note ** for purposes of this discussion, all responses of “call 911”, or “call your therapist”, or “call a doctor” are automatically assumed and “don’t count”, lol. I want to know what YOU would say to this person.
** Also, this situation is totally fictional.
I would get a picture of her children and put it in her hand. I would tell her that if you don’t want to stay alive for yourself, stay alive to be a mother for them. I would tell her she is needed, that I love her, that I understand her pain and wanting to die. I would tell her that although there seems to be no hope, no reason for living, that she is holding the reason in her hand-a picture of her children. I would tell her that is a reason enough to keep going. To stay for them. To have hope that you will be there for them if not yourself.
I would say that though all seems dark in the world, that there is light in the darkest moment. That there is hope for the hopeless and love for those that don’t feel loved. That some day you’ll be able to pay it forward to others and share what you’ve learned about surviving extreme pain and trauma. That others will be alive because you shared your story of not only pain, but of survival and hope.
I would tell her I know how she feels, that I’ve tried to kill myself more than once. I know the pain and torture of always wanting to die. That I’ve been suicidal since the age of twelve and thought about it for many years. I would tell her that I know what death does in a family. That my nephew died, that my dad died, and I saw what it did to my family. I would tell her I’ve had friends die, including my best friend, and what it did to me. What it would do to people in her life that love her.
I would ask her if that’s the legacy she wants to leave for her children to live with. That mom committed suicide and left them alone in the world without a mother. Will you now do to your children what your mom did to you?
Would I use guilt to keep her alive? YES!!! It’s conversations in my head that have kept me alive until the age of 53. I’ve used guilt to keep myself alive many times, and anything else that works internally. I have two kids, one who is autistic and counts on me to help take care of him in this world. I have another son who gets suicidal and has tried to commit suicide.
Do I stay alive for them? Of course, and if it takes guilt at times to stay alive, I consider it a useful tool in my toolbox when nothing else works.
I go in the hospital now if I start feeling “darkness” come out, as I call that part of me. It’s time to pack a bag and go inpatient when Darkness comes out. I owe it to my kids and those who love me. I have learned to pack quickly and efficiently, and I deal with the bills the rest of the year.
I’ve had to tell my kids that I tried to kill myself. One time I wasn’t even aware of feeling particularly suicidal that day. Unfortunately, when I talked to my youngest (he was only 17 at the time), it was the 3rd time I spoke to him about it. I had dissociated the first two discussions. It took me months of preparation to know what I wanted to say, and how to say it. I dreaded that conversation for months because of the pain it would cause my son. Imagine the pain of finding out it’s the 3rd time you’ve had it. I give him permission to stop conversations and to tell me if he’s heard something before. I hate amnesia…
You’d be surprised what you can survive. I still struggle daily to survive. I hope to be talking about suicidal thoughts 20 years from now if need be. It means I’m still alive, that I lasted longer than I thought possible. That I never thought I’d make it another year. That I’ve thought this way my whole life.
What would I tell that hypothetical mom? Anything necessary to keep her going one more day. Because each day you survive is a good day. That each day no one dies is a good day. My brother taught me that saying. “Nancy, a day when no one dies is a good day”. Why does he know this? His son died at 16 years old and he survived every parents worse nightmare. He had a close friend whose son also died that he relied on for support who committed suicide. He understands, like I do, not wanting to go on another moment. He also has seen healing from it. But he also understands why his friend killed himself. He doesn’t get angry, he understands the pain of living when you want nothing more than to die. So do I…but here I am still alive.
Am I in my right mindnwhen I get dissociated and try to kill myself? No, but now I recognize the warning thoughts, and I call my hospital and tell them I’m on my way. I have the number memorized.
Eeeegads…. Ok….its a discussion.
In Judaism its understood that compassion is to be felt for one who suicides because such a descision cannot have been made with all of ones mind. I think thats a particularly apt perspective on a thread regarding dissociation.
I believe all and I mean ALL feelings are valid regarding ones responses to suicide.
I also believe that there is absolutely no ranking system in “who hurts more”
I believe a person who suicides is in a compacted mind frame – the world as one sees it in such a frame feels utterly entrapped and unable to see hope or change past the frame. Reminding them of the effect on loved ones can be helpful (to help them break beyond the frame into a more expanded mindview)- if you have the chance to – many times suicides enter this frame of mind without anyone knowing they are experiencing the world from such a compacted frame.
I believe it is an act of desperation and impulse amidst a torrent of emotions that given some possible opportunity to connect with another person, this permanent solution to temporary problems can be seen from an expanded perspective with some hope to move beyond this state of mind.
I should state here unequivocably that I believe in the Hemlock society and a persons right to die with dignity amidst physical illness, and a persons right to make that very personal choice. My other comments are about emotionally impulsive acts that can result in suicide.
I have often wondered about the person who died in inpatient in Shep. I have wondered if she died where she felt there would be people who loved her and would feel for her. I have wondered if she felt so isolated outside of there, that that was her plan going in, to die somewhere she felt loved. I believe in that case there was a plan going in, and no I do not believe that this plan was able to think beyond and into empathy for what others would experience having to suddenly cope with such a shock while most inpatient are already in a weakened state. I have always felt that suicide was more to die amidst staff that cared for the person. I do not believe it was possible for this person to empathize or realize the extent of pain this act would inflict on others in the aftermath.
But there are very many suicides that really are not planned, they are more desperate acts in a particular frame of mind, done impulsively and some just do die when all they really wanted was change. I believe that those acts were actually a cry for LIFE, and not done with any kind of understanding of what all devastation they would actually incur on others.
One thing that bothered me reading some of the comments above was this “reasoned debate” – I do not believe anyone (aside from those I mentioned who contact the Hemlock society) I do not believe Anyone who suicides makes this decision from a mindframe of “Reason” as in fully rational fully able to see all possible avenues and effects – as in actual ability to experience Empathy. I think that people who suicide have temporarily lost that faculty of being able to think or reason beyond the very compacted frame they are in at the time of the act. I believe that actual Empathy just is beyond someone in the throes of that moment of acting on suicide.
I feel incredible sympathy, empathy and understanding for those who survive suicide attempts which have left them with physical and mental scars and injuries.
I also feel incredible sympathy, empathy and understanding for the endless pain of second guessing and powerless pain in the aftermath of a loved ones suicide.
I do not believe it is fair or even respectful to decide or judge externally who hurts more. The difference is in semantics – the surviving loved ones and the survivors of attempts have longer to experience pain – they hurt longer, and because of the extension in time, in many more ways. Those who have died we can only guess at.
I have quite evidently managed not to die of any attempts, which is more fortunate than entirely by my own bootstraps. I have been able to experience that there is life and choice and hope in the days that lay beyond. I have often experienced ironically enough a great deal of enraged pain that friends of mine did not have this opportunity, though I all too well also know that in the mindframe I was in at the times of my own impulsive acts, I just simply could not see past the pain I was experiencing.
I have also managed to turn off the suicide train of thought more than once over the years by thinking of what such a moment would do to my very loving husband. I do know that managing to experience beyond my own feelings can save ones life.
I do think open discussion regarding suicide is important.
If this column is read by someone who is amidst an anniversary of a loved ones death – then open discussion because it is open discussion can wound in unexpected and utterly unforseen ways.
This is why I think that this subject matter, is a good one to talk about. It gives lots of different perspectives.
I guess one can not judge whos pain is worse. Just that some might express it better.
I am also thinking that maybe the one who commits suicide, cant express their pain and that could be one of the reasons that they make that choice. And that the surviving ones, can better express themselves, so the pain is able to be seen more….
This is just a thought. Something to think about.
I am with Kathy on this one. For me personally, host attempted suicide many years ago, I tried to stop it by throwing up as much meds as I could and make a call which got us to the hospital. I was so hurt that she did that. In the case of multiples remember its not just one part involved, no part has any right to terminate the body by their own decision imo. I also saw first hand how loved ones and those that loved her were hurt by just the attempt.
We also have a nephew that found his boss hanging one morning when he came to work, he was only 17yrs and to this day he still has nightmares about it. Yes there is suffering I understand that, I wont lie and say I have never thought about doing it, but ideation is different than carrying it out imo and some experts even believe that suicidal ideation is a condition all on its own. Personally I think it is a very self centred act, just my opinion, and I will be damned before I would let my abusers get that ultimate triumph of winning the war, by any of us committing suicide. They may have won some battles when we couldn’t truly fight but now we can fight back by winning those small battles in therapy and within ourselves so to speak, and winning the war, by living our lives to the fullest and eventually at peace despite what they have done to us. To me that is the ultimate revenge.
my whole childhood, both my parents used the threat of suicide to manipulate and control me. As an adult, I find it hard to differentiate betwwen someone who is truly suicidal and someone who “just” thinks about it and feels kinda drawn to it. That makes it a hard topic for me to discuss in group settings.
For me personally, it is not an option at all for emotional pain and stress. The only time I would consider it is if I were diagnosed as terminally ill and felt the pain and suffering and humiliation of my illness were too great for it to be worth living what time I had left.
I like to see this subject brought up and in the open. Too many people are afraid to talk openly about it. People are afraid to bring up the subject in therapy, for fear of an over reaction. I finally found the courage to talk to my therapist about it. I was lucky to find that he was comfortable with talking about it openly.
Its an interesting topic with a set reaction expected. I had a brother attempt suicide and was within minutes of dying. The result was months in the hospital, while his shut down organs, learn to work again. Several months ago, my 22 year old son attempted suicide. After certain things in the emergency room, they released him, No hold put on him. He is seeing a therapist now.
Even with these things in my life, I still think it is a personal choice. If someone is depressed, I think that they should seek help and shouldnt end their life because they are sad. But when someone has made a long thought out decision, to end their life. They should be allowed to. Some people feel that their life is complete and others that it is their destiny. Its not always about pain or depression.
The sadness felt by those left behind, is sadness that THEY have, missing that person or guilt that they didnt stop something that THEY felt is wrong to do. To feel worse, then if they had died of an illness, shows that we are putting our guilt and beliefs on them.
Do you think that the reason it might feel so devasting to others, is because of the guilt they carry about it? I think that people should step out of their set reactions to suicide and really look at some of the reason behind it.
If someone committed suicide because they felt their life was complete or their destiny, that is THEIR choice. Their personal decision. Nothing to do with anybody else. We need to challenge our beliefs and look outside of what we have been taught. Realize that people have different ideas about what is right and wrong, and they may not always match with ours.
Hopefully, if someone you know commits suicide, they have let you know, at some point and time, why they did it. Where they depressed? Or did they make an informed decision? If it was their decision, let it be that. Miss them but realize that it was their personal choice.
The more this subject is brought out into the open, the more discussions it will produce. People need to be able to talk about this in a frank matter. I think people would be surprised about how many different opinions there are on this subject.
Thank you for bringing up this topic Kathy.
hi…. i think we tend to forget that there is one person who is in more pain than those left behind will ever experience – the one who committed suicide themselves.
i get angry when people try to guilt a person who is suicidal into not doing it by bringing up those who will be left behind…. it only amplifies the pain and guilt – the guilt of being in pain enough to consider it….??? hello? is that mixed up to anyone else than just me? guilt-tripping personally never helped me – it only amplified the existential suffering more. compassion, on the other hand, feeling understood and not rejected for feeling the way you do… those things helped me, hugely.
i do not see ‘suicide survivors’ as those friends and family that were ‘left behind’ – suicide survivors are those who have terribly physical conditions leftover from a failed attempt – internal (stomach/esophagus etc) and/or external scars. those left behind suffered a tragic loss, to be sure, but i do not see how it can compare.
Kathy Broady says
Thanks for the responses.
I think it is very hard – impossible, really – to put these kinds of situations in any kind of all or nothing box. The situations are far too varied and far too individualized. For example, in some cases, the suiciding person might have been the one “in the greatest pain” while in other situations, the surviving loved ones are the ones left “in the greatest pain”. (assuming we can compare who’s pain is greater than whose anyway….. which is probably a silly thing to be doing in the first place….)
And while some surviving friends and family members may feel guilt, that isn’t necessarily the biggest or the most difficult emotion left for them.
Many people do understand that suicide becomes ultimately, a personal choice. IF someone wants to kill themselves, they can do it in a way and a place that no one on earth can prevent them, so yes, it is absolutely a personal decision. External people / situations can run interference for awhile, and can effectively postpone their pending death for awhile, but if someone really and truly wants to commit suicide, they can and will, regardless of anything or anyone else.
In light of the personal decision factor, I do not think that reminding a suicidal person of the pain that they will inflict on others is the wrong thing to do. When a suiciding person has other loved ones in their life, their decision to kill themselves will absolutely hurt others. Let me say that again: When a suiciding person has other loved ones in their life, their decision to kill themselves will absolutely hurt others. That is a fact. Hands down, no doubt about it. There is no reason to pretend otherwise. One person’s suicide causes pain and hurt for others, and the reverberations are felt much further than any suicidal person might expect. A suicidal person may not want to be reminded of that fact — maybe because of their OWN guilt about hurting others — but it is in fact, a reality. Suicidal people hurt other people. Very much so.
And yes, the suicidal person can decide if their desire for death is more of a priority than the pain they will inflict on other people. For many, that is the case. They want to die, and they don’t care if they hurt others. For some, they want to die, and are convinced that no one else will care — (which is nearly always erroneous thinking). Or they may think their pain outranks anyone else’s pain. Or they may not even be thinking about pain – they may have totally different reasons. So yes, people can decide to take their own life if they want to.
But, don’t fool yourself into thinking that because you have the “right” to kill yourself that you won’t be hurting other people.
If you decide to kill yourself, be responsible and honest enough with yourself to accept that you will be hurting your friends and loved ones, and that the news of your death will affect even acquaintances and other people that have heard of you. And if you are ok with that fact, then so be it. But don’t pretend it doesn’t exist as a reality.
Has anyone here sat with the parent of a child who actually suicided?
Has anyone here sat with the spouse or best friend of someone who suicided?
I have spent years and years of time working with, sitting beside, listening to suicidal people. I absolutely recognize the pain and I have heard the hurts….
And Vague, I’ve been thinking about this since your comment came thru’. I really think that when I compare the descriptions of the pain I hear from suicidal people with the descriptions of the pain I hear from the surviving loved ones, I have to disagree with you. I’ve sat with both of these sets of people, numerous times. And in my years of clinical experience, the surviving loved ones — the people that truly loved the person that suicided — the surviving loved ones hurt more.
All you do here is shame vulnerable people. Some of us are living a walking suicide. That is intensely unsatisfying and painful. The stress and pain consumes us slowly and we see our body wither away. Some receive no help but only shame from others. If everything good has been taken away from me, why would you not let me die with dignity?
Julie Plott says
I understand you Joe, feel the same way, been in therapy over 25 years and here I sit, reading this, it’s awful to live this way.
Julie Plott says
I can’t sign up, it won’t let me, hang in there Joe, sorry Julie
I am really at a loss to know what to say here but I wanted to acknowledge your posting to let you know that you are being heard and that you are not alone. I think that we can all really relate to the feeling of hanging on to life with a very thin and fraying thread. Certainly the holiday season heaps on a whole lot of additional stressors. But, please know that you have friends here that understand and care.
Now, Wren started a discussion on the blog “Our Normal Complicated Selves” that is about gathering our tools in our baskets of safety nets to help us get through our days. Maybe there is something there that can help. Or, maybe just starting to think about what you would put in your basket of safety nets would help.
With positive thoughts,
at the end of the day we are ALL going to die best case you live to say 100 , the clock starts ticking the minute you are born , illness accidents even crime take people at any age what does it actually matter if someone dies at 40 or 80 ? who wouldnt prefer to go in comfort at a time that was right them them and under their own control rather than suffering and simply withering away from a terminal illness to have to die in suffereing and pain ? or have the option to plan and leave letters for loved ones rather than dieing in a car crash while on the way to work ?
Traditionally didnt the idea of crimilising suicide come from the church ? the theory that only God has the right to decide when a life ends , by suicide or murder and that either is to subvert Gods will , so then if someone has a heart attack and another performs CPR are they not also subverting that will of God ? i honestly dont see what the problem is , yes it may well hurt those around the person , but is that because they will miss their presence or because of how death is viewed in society that has been drilled into us ?
When i was inpatient the girl next door to me committed suicide. She was only 28 years old or so. I didn’t know her well but a lot of other people on the ward knew her really well and were her friends. The devastation i saw that day, it was, it was unbearable. The very place you would think a person would be safe and not able to do that kind of thing, it happened. And that proved to me that if someone really wants to do it, they can and will find a way.
I’ve thought of it, attempted it, and thought about it some more. Sometimes it becomes a compulsion, sometimes a fantasy. But i know what i would be leaving behind. And i couldn’t bear to leave the ones i loved behind forever wandering what they did or didn’t do right. Wandering how they could of been there or done something differently. I am a survivor, and i will continue to survive. Its really hard especially when there is soo much hurt and pain and suffering. Whenever i think of suicide, i think of that girl on the ward who did exactly what everyone was trying to get help for, she traumatized us all further. Can you imagine what it was like to watch her parents come and pack up her room? We watched the ambulance take her body away. They locked us down, came in and did inspections in our room, grief support, etc… It only took her 15 minutes to die. in between the 15 minute checks the mental health workers did. It was the worst from of violence i’ve ever had against me, and i’ve been abused all my life. i can’t explain it…its devastating. Really if your suicidal please get help, think before you act because you don’t know how badly your going to damage the people you leave behind.
Kathy Broady says
I’ve re-read your response in this thread, and I think you’ve hit on something very important. You were literally a few feet away from someone that committed suicide — someone that you barely knew — someone I’m sure that did not expect to have any impact on your life whatsoever. And yet, you’ve described that ordeal as “the worst form of violence I’ve ever had against me, and I’ve been abused all my life.”
That really says a lot. I’m so sorry to hear about that whole ordeal…. how devastating for you and for so many people….
I think you’ve captured the essence of something that is so hard to explain…. how suicide intensely impacts people, even those that aren’t so connected to the one that dies. Plus in your situation, the overwhelm of seeing someone in one of the safest of the safest places still being able to die must have hit hard, especially since so many of you there in the hospital were already fighting your suicidal urges.
How has this experience changed you and your thoughts of suicide? Have you noticed any changes for the better or for the worse?
Thanks for sharing….