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Suicide: A Small Informal (Personal) Study

Suicide: A Small Informal (Personal) Study

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Published by Bill Allin
This article gives an insider's perspective of someone who could commit suicide. And it offers suggestions for those who know that someone is in trouble.
Find author Bill Allin at http://billallin.com
This article gives an insider's perspective of someone who could commit suicide. And it offers suggestions for those who know that someone is in trouble.
Find author Bill Allin at http://billallin.com

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Bill Allin on Jan 26, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/30/2013

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Suicide: A Small Informal (Personal) Study
"Why did you try to kill yourself?""You told me to be happy."- Anonymous source, internet forum, (validity unconfirmed)
A few days ago, as a result of an unfortunate series of coincidences,I found myself experiencing some old familiar feelings. I wanted thepain to be over.As I have been through these experiences before and lived to thinkand tell about them, I decided to do a small experiment to see if people who believe they know me could recognize the telltale signsof potential suicide we hear about (always after the tragic eventitself).What, I wondered, would people do if they knew I was troubledenough to rant, with little self control, about the state of the worldand my life? Such ranting is as common as depression as a sign of someone who is potentially suicidal. Would people recognize aperson in trouble, someone in danger of considering suicide? Ormight they just think I had not had enough sleep? Or that I washaving a bad hair day?How many would care enough to ask if they did suspect something?I expected that most, if they recognized anything, would gointrospective or selfish and try to avoid meddling.
“Did you really want to die?""No one commits suicide because they want to die.""Then why do they do it?""Because they want to stop the pain.”-Tiffanie DeBartolo, American novelist (b. 1970),
 How to Kill a Rock Star 
I also wondered what people would do if they found someone atrisk, what actions they would take. Would they, in fact, do anythingor would they be too afraid to "interfere" in something they knowlittle about.Finally, I wondered what kinds of clues might cause people to clue-in that they were suddenly aware of a person they knew who was introuble.
“A lot of you cared, just not enough.”-Jay Asher , American writer (b. 1975),
Thirteen Reasons Why
Most people who believe they know me paid little attention when Iseemed to go off the deep end. "He has done it before, so we knowhe will be all right" they thought. It never occurred to them that Imight see that as a challenge to prove them wrong. Suicidal people
 
rise to challenges.It never occurred to them that this time might be somehowdifferent. In fact, brain chemistry imbalances may never be identicaltwice. Brain chemistry imbalances account for most depression andsuicides.It also never occurred to them that I might really end my life. Theydidn't allow that possibility to enter their minds. In psychology, thatis called denial. For those who are left behind after someone hasended their life, it's a lifetime or knowing that they could have donesomething, but didn't.What some friends have seen as strange cranky periods I getsometimes were really periods when I seriously considered suicide.I didn't follow through, for one reason or another. I delayed so longin trying to figure out how to end my life without hurting others thatthe chemistry in my brain corrected itself.
“and he suddenly knew that if she killed herself, he would die. Maybe notimmediately, maybe not with the same blinding rush of pain, but it would happen.You couldn't live for very long without a heart.”-Jodi Picoult, American author (b. 1966)
When I was a child, it was common to hear of people dying of a"broken heart." Of course this seemed silly, but people had no otherway to account for why I person who had been very close toanother (such as a spouse) for many years would die within weeksor months of the death of the partner (on some occasions it hasbeen as short a time as a few days or even hours).Today medical science has proven that people can die of a brokenheart. It doesn't break like an invaded piggy bank, but it does ceaseto function properly. It gets so weak, even leaky, it can't pumpblood efficiently. Why? Brain chemistry weakens the immunesystem and body organs.Most of my "friends" on Facebook and all of those who subscribe tomy posts gave no reaction to my ranting or telling of my tragicfamily history.A few Facebook friends, notably those who are known to beparticularly sensitive to the feelings of others and who those closeto them know they have suffered tragedy more than once in theirlives, took action. They tried to interfere, to intervene in a situationthey sensed was risky.The second best reaction I had was from two people who said, ineffect, "I know something is terribly wrong in your life and I want
 
you to know that I am with you for whatever you need." Some triedto give advice, which most people knew was the wrong approach.But the stuck their necks out in a situation they knew might berisky. They tried. They did something.The best reaction I had was from a real life and Facebook friendwho said, in effect, "I know something is troubling you terribly. Howcan I help?"That kind of offer is open ended. The person making the offer islaying herself or himself open, as if to say "I am here for thetaking." For someone who is close enough to find death appealing,that kind of offer is hard to resist. It says "I care. You matter tome."What does it actually feel like when you want to end your life? Firstof all, there are two kinds of suicide attempts. Both are dangerous.The first is really a cry for help. The person wants to fail, wants tobe discovered before dying. But he knows that he will be considereda fake if he doesn't make the action he takes severe enough that itcould be convincing.The second kind is the person who wants it all to end, wants thepain to end, wants it to be over. Don't ask what the pain is becausean objective third party (the first being the person consideringsuicide and the second being his pain, which is so strong that it isalmost personified) would not find the pain severe enough towarrant needing it to end immediately.That last paragraph should be a clue to you as reader. No reasongiven for committing suicide may seem valid to someone looking onfrom the "outside." Something else must be going on for the personto feel that bad.What is going on is bad brain chemistry. The chemistry is beyondthe control of the victim. No amount of being told to think positive,to smile or to brighten up will help. If anything, it could alienate thevictim from the others, making him feel more alone.That aloneness is characteristic of suicide. People do not end theirlives to punish others, though it might seem that way to people whoread their "suicide notes." (Most people who commit suicide leave anote, but not all.) They end their life because they feel alone.This aloneness is not loneliness. It's a feeling of being isolated fromthe world. It's as if you are in a parallel dimension, being able tosee the other dimension without those in the other dimension being

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Bill AKA "Kenosis23" added this note
My experience has been contrary to yours. Where others saw suicidal intent, I have been conscious of holding onto life as hard as I could given the circumstances. What was helpful for me, and what I've always desired, was the presence of others as an anchor. Sometimes this happens, but if so it is followed by a slow withdrawal after it is thought that I am “out of the woods.” It seems that it is b
Bill Allin added this note
As always, thanks for your valuable additions Jed.
Jed Diamond added this note
Thank you for your deep and honest sharing. As someone who has suffered from depression all his life (as did my father who tried to commit suicide when I was 5), I know the dark cloud that can envelope us when we least expect it. Your sharing is very helpful, I'm sure, to many. Your suggestion of companionship, simply being with a person is spot on. I'm glad to share this Scribd environment of
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