It wasn’t really a request that has drawn me to my keyboard today but a series of conversations that I have either been a part of or that has recently come to my attention.
Having been open about a range of thoughts and feelings I was asked to explain how it feels when depression becomes too much. How does the mind work?
This is massive step to take but I’m going to put this into words. I have contemplated suicide on a number of occasions. Now don’t judge me because I don’t want that. But I’m telling you this because I want to tell you how ‘ending it all’ becomes a logical conclusion in a complicated mind. I want the reader to know how easy suicide can become. But, equally, I want those left behind to be able to work out the mind of that person who has gone.
There is never a single reason
There is never only one reason that people take their lives. Like our lives, things can be complicated or difficult, and therefore very few people talk about it once the decision has been made. These people don’t want to justify or explain their ‘logical’ conclusions. Especially when they run the risk of being talked out of it.
The appeal of suicide is loss of consciousness, and thus the end of psychological pain being experienced. For suicidal people, that leaves only three ways to escape this painful self-awareness: drugs, sleep and death. And of these, only death, nature’s great anaesthesia, offers a permanent fix.
During a conversation I had with someone last week, I went into great detail of it all. I didn’t hold back. We discussed the planning, the build-up and then the act itself. What I wanted to emphasise was the fact that when the decision has finally been made a great feeling of relief becomes apparent. The verdict has been made and all other alternatives don’t fit the space in which everything fits. Nothing makes sense anymore other than the drive to finish with life.
Even the grim, tedious details of organizing the act of suicide can offer a welcome reprieve. When preparing, the victim can finally cease to worry about the future, as there is no future. The past, too, has ceased to matter, for it is nearly ended and will no longer cause grief, worry, or anxiety. And the imminence of death may help focus the mind on the immediate present.
It is not at all apparent that those at risk of suicide are always aware that they are in fact suicidal, at least in the earliest stages. However, signs begin to manifest and show when the plans have been developed.
Firstly, they may appear at ease. In fact, they may even seem jovial. They are happy with the decision that has been made and a conclusion to their miseries are now within reaching distance.
Secondly, plans are made and things are given away. During my time as a paramedic I came across a number of victims who had spent the previous week or so tidying up the house or paying off debts. In some cases they may have given things away. But in every suicide I came into contact with, a letter was always found.
One well-known “suicidologist,” Edwin Shneidman, once wrote that, “Our best route to understanding suicide is not through the study of the structure of the brain, nor the study of social statistics, nor the study of mental diseases, but directly through the study of human emotions described in plain English, in the words of the suicidal person.”
When I have read suicide notes I have often found that the deceased has tried to reach out after death or try to justify their actions. The notes can be simplistic but a great deal of thought has gone into these words (good or bad). But for them, these words are the most important they have ever committed to paper. And so, because of the rush or the path they have taken it can sometimes paint a picture of a confused and complicated mind.
Everything in its place
From all of this one can conclude that a plan has been made. In my case I too had made a plan. But it is easy. It is easy for the victim at this stage because it is the right thing to do. There are no complications following death. Bills are paid. People have the things you wanted them to have and it is all done with ease.
The mind has been made up and as the ‘time’ rushes towards the victim the relief is more and more tangible. In essence, any troubled mind has a feeling of clarity (probably for the first time in a long time) and everything makes sense because there is a final, logical conclusion.
I cannot think of a single genuine suicide case whereby it has been done to spite anyone left behind. In fact, it is the opposite. A depressive feels like a burden to everyone around them. By ending it all will not only end the victims suffering, but they feel they will no longer be a problem to anyone else left behind.
Taking control for the first time
For the victim this planning is beneficial. It is better to do this than die suddenly with no plans or provisions made for the ones left behind. The victim will never understand the feeling of loss for those of whom are left behind. They only see their own conclusions and the control they now have over what is going to happen. You see this is the problem with mental illness – there is no control. It takes over and suicide gives ownership back to the victim. This may be the first time they have had control over themselves in a long time – and it feels good.
What is logical?
I’m not claiming any of this makes sense. We are reading this with our own set values and understanding. But to the victim, their views and conclusions are equally valued in their own eyes. In fact the relatives who are left behind may scream it is illogical to do these things – but these are the patterns that suicidal people generally follow.
In fact, you may be able to pin point the actions identified. If you do I hope it bring solace to know that they did it in a state of peace, of which they had not felt for a long time.
In considering people’s motivations for killing themselves, it is essential to recognize that most suicides are driven by a flash flood of strong emotions and feelings. It is not rational, philosophical thoughts in which the pros and cons are considered. The final act of suicide as an escape from themselves.
It will never make true sense to those left behind.
There you have it. I have shared it all in its gory details. I suspect for a few people it has been uncomfortable reading, but you have taken a glimpse into a mind that has been prepared to end it all on their terms.
It’s not nice for the victim or for those left behind but it is a reality. People will kill themselves for whatever reason but for the victim it all makes sense. Their pain is at an end and that is what they wanted.
For me, I have learnt a lot. It’s not about science because science hasn’t stopped people killing themselves. I think it’s all about perspective. It’s how we see things. In a previous blog I wrote that by killing yourself it might be an own goal. I might have missed the best years to come. But for those in this situation that statement would never make sense.