Do People Understand Thoughts of Suicide?

Recently we lost one of our members to suicide and it made us reflect on the process that one goes through before reaching that point. It’s a horrific thing to be in so much pain that you would rather end your life, unknowing of what is in the afterlife (religious or not), in order to make that pain go away. It seems that they reached out and did not find satisfaction in the online world, and that’s unfortunate. But it is understandable to an extent. People, whether in cyberspace or in the real world, don’t really comprehend how much torture depression leading up to such an act can be. They think it’s just a phase or someone is being melodramatic. And perhaps in some cases it is. I’ve know from my own experience that when I’ve mentioned how I am feeling like it, I get something like “Stop it. You don’t want to do that.” The problem is that they don’t actually have a solution to the underlying problem, nor do they even want to know what is bothering me, just that I shouldn’t do it. It’s that solution that needs to be addressed when someone starts considering suicide. A lot of times, suicide victims are often remembered as trying to ask for help via their talk, but are too often dismissed at the time until something tragic happens.


The online world can be a good place and a bad place to get comfort really. When one withdraws from their family and friends, the anonymity of the online world creates an outlet for them to express their pain to those that they feel don’t know them and will be less likely to judge. Unfortunately, the cyberculture is often far from helpful in this regard. There are good forums, such as ours, where people are treated with dignity. There are those in others where users consider themselves rough and ready and thus treat a depressed person as a mamby pamby. They can’t even wrap their heads around the pain that depression can cause, perhaps never having experienced it, or perhaps was able to work their way out of it through a good support system. But from these people come what they might consider funny and snarky, but actually winds up fueling the fire that burns within. An example I saw the other day on a support forum is that suicide is the coward’s way out, but if someone was going to do it, they should take someone with them. Now besides the fact that suicide takes a ton of courage IMO), it’s comments like that in response to a painful plea that might push someone to go through with it. Some places, deep in the bowels of the cyberspace underworld, even thrill at pushing people over the edge. Sick, I know, but they are out there. Even Facebook, among caring people and “friends”, has had users dismissed someone while playing around, only to grieve when they follow through.

So what can help? You’d be surprised how just listening and letting someone vent their problems can bring them back from the brink. It’s necessary for people to talk to others about their issues and keeping it built up inside is what fuels a lot of the thoughts that swirl around their head. Don’t get frustrated or dismiss them. I know it might seem frustrating because often times people at their lowest point can’t think rationally or responsibly, but that is why you are there. To help them figure out exactly what is causing their pain and how to alleviate it. Sometimes that is taking away whatever is bothering them, if possible, such as providing them a plan if they are facing homelessness, or convincing them that the pain of loss will subside in time and they will find others, or perhaps stories of hope that others have been in similar situations and have gotten through it. While there are long term issues that are more than just temporary setbacks in some, compassion and empathy can still be valid tool in helping them. Remember, that depression is a disease. Just because it’s of the mind, rather than the body, it’s still a physical process that creates this in someone. It’s not something they can help, just as they can’t help their heart disease or cancer or any other disease. You wouldn’t abandon them for those, would you? Well then, depression should be the same thing.

But in the end, people at that level of hurt need professional help in most cases. Many are too scared to get help unfortunately, either because they think that it will end whatever they are doing and they will wear a Scarlet Letter for the rest of their life or they will wind up locked in a rubber room, dying a slow drug crazed death among violent mental patients. It doesn’t help that sometimes their relatives and friends see the mental health profession in the same way, thanks to pop culture and movie depictions. It’s true that hospitalization is still a possibility, but it’s nowhere near like it was years ago in the crappy age of sanitariums where people were locked away forever because they were depressed and given medieval treatments such as shock therapy on a regular basis. Modern facilities are often short term stays (like rehab or a normal hospital) and focus more on returning the person into the land of the living. They allow visitations by family members and/or outpatient services, under certain conditions, both of which give the person a chance to get back to a normal life, while still getting the help they need. And the patient still has rights that they can assert, just as they can with regular hospital visits, especially in cases of depression.

If you know someone who says they want to commit suicide, take it seriously, sit down with them. Ask them why? Find out what can be done to alleviate the underlying issue. Work with them if possible on solutions. Get them professional help to deal with their issues. Behavioral Therapy can really aid a possible victim teaching them to see the good in themselves and to recognize the triggers and handle them. But whatever you do, don’t ignore them or write them off as being drama queens. The pain that they are feeling is very real and may even manifest itself as true physical pain and that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

This article is dedicated to the member who couldn’t hold on and the family and friends that they left behind. Our heart goes out to them in these trying times.
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