Suicide: How to Help Yourself & Others Find Healing

Suicide: How to Help Yourself & Others Find Healing, written by Dr. Caroline Leaf

We have a problem.

More and more people are choosing to take their own lives. More and more people see death as the solution to the difficulties they face.

Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain are high-profile suicide cases that devastated the world. Yet every 40 seconds someone commits suicide—every 40 secondssomeone’s world is devastated.

I say “we” have a problem because the rising rates of suicide are a judgement on our society. David Foster Wallace, discussing suicide, said that

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”

Individuals like Bourdain and Spade couldn’t escape the flames because we, as a society, didn’t provide a way for them to save themselves.

These flames are different for everyone; it could be the conflict of trying to be someone else than who we are; it could be festering trauma from any stage in our lives; it could be mounting pressure and expectations from our lifestyle; it could be loneliness; it could be relationships…it could be anything. All of us are vulnerable because we all of face the challenges of daily life.

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