1. They’re depressed. This is without question the most common reason people commit suicide. Severe depression is always accompanied by a pervasive sense of suffering as well as the belief that escape from it is hopeless.
The pain of existence often becomes too much for severely depressed people to bear.
2. They’re psychotic. Malevolent inner voices often command self-destruction for unintelligible reasons. Psychosis is much harder to mask than depression — and arguably even more tragic.
The worldwide incidence of schizophrenia is 1% and often strikes otherwise healthy, high-performing individuals, whose lives, though manageable with medication, never fulfill their original promise.
3. They’re impulsive. Often related to drugs and alcohol, some people become maudlin and impulsively attempt to end their own lives. Once sobered and calmed, these people usually feel emphatically ashamed.
The remorse is usually genuine, and whether or not they’ll ever attempt suicide again is unpredictable. They may try it again the very next time they become drunk or high, or never again in their lifetime.
4. They’re crying out for help and don’t know how else to get it. These people don’t usually want to die but do want to alert those around them that something is seriously wrong.
They often don’t believe they will die, frequently choosing methods they don’t think can kill them in order to strike out at someone who’s hurt them—but are sometimes tragically misinformed.
5. They have a philosophical desire to die. The decision to commit suicide for some is based on a reasoned decision often motivated by the presence of a painful terminal illness from which little to no hope of reprieve exists. These people aren’t depressed, psychotic, maudlin, or crying out for help.
They’re trying to take control of their destiny and alleviate their own suffering, which usually can only be done in death.
6. They’ve made a mistake. This is a recent, tragic phenomenon in which typically young people flirt with oxygen deprivation for the high it brings and simply go too far. The only defense against this, it seems to me, is education.
The wounds suicide leaves in the lives of those left behind by it are often deep and long lasting. The apparent senselessness of suicide often fuels the most significant pain survivors feel.
Thinking we all deal better with tragedy when we understand its underpinnings, I’ve offered the preceding paragraphs in hopes that anyone reading this who’s been left behind by a suicide might be able to more easily find a way to move on, to relinquish their guilt and anger, and find closure.
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