Depression: Suicide is Never the Right Answer
My husband and I recently experienced the unexpected and tragic death of a friend. At only thirty-two years of age, his passing left me feeling emotionally conflicted and struggling to make sense of it all. Although his death was not due to suicide, it did prompt me to reflect upon the issue of suicide, which clients will periodically disclose that they have at some point considered during their lifetimes.
My father used to say, "Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem." As a therapist I find much truth in this. Clients will occasionally tell me that during moments of profound distress they have at some point in time experienced thoughts of suicide. According to the American Association for Suicidology, suicide ranks as the tenth-leading cause of death in the United States and the second most common cause of death among 15 to 24-year olds in the United States. I think of suicide almost as being akin to the "check engine" light coming on in one's car: it is letting one know that something is not okay at that point in time with one's mental health--that there is something, to which one needs to attend and get professional assistance.
Clients sometimes will feel hesitant to openly discuss that they have been experiencing suicidal thoughts, sometimes mistakenly thinking that this means that they will automatically be hospitalized or that someone will pass judgment upon them. Nothing could be further from the truth, frankly. As a counselor it is always my aim and intention to help a client to understand what prompted the suicidal thoughts, how to minimize their risk of acting upon the thoughts, and to discuss with them strategies they can implement to cope more effectively until the crisis abates.
Although it can sometimes seem to us in the midst of emotional turmoil that "it won't ever get any better", eventually things do tend to become less emotionally triggering. Feeling depressed or anxious tends to be a temporary state of being, but it is almost as though we develop a sort of "tunnel vision" when focusing on suicidal thoughts--that is to say, only focusing on the negative in our lives and convincing ourselves that it will not improve over time.
If you are experiencing any suicidal thinking, I would encourage you to visit your nearest emergency room, call 911, or to call one of the following resources for confidential, free assistance:
Suicide Prevention Lifeline - Available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week
The Trevor Project - Available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week (LGBTQIA Youth)
You can find a number of other free, confidential suicide and crisis-related resources here.
If you struggle with depression or anxiety and need help coping, I would be honored to talk with you. Feel free to contact me to schedule an online appointment.