Resist The Lure of Suicide

Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of F...

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Sometimes I wonder, how come other people get to get away without having to deal with this?  Why can’t I get a break?

Heidi wasn’t talking about fair or foul fortune in life.  She was talking about suicide.  Heidi found the suicide idea alluring and promising.  She found life unfair and death a form of equalization.  She reminded me that suicide contagion is a real effect.  I didn’t know this before.  I don’t know when it became an understanding for me, but it was after medical school and definitely after residency.

So much of what I know, came to me outside of those places of learning.  So much of what I know, came from my patients and a settling effect into my specialty of practice.  I have learned, in one way of consideration, too much about suicide.  In that way, I wish I didn’t.

There are good things too, of course.  Suicide is no more moral or amoral than another act in life, it is simply (if one could use such a word with this) and most objectively the last.  I remember commenter Mike J said on December 17, 2011,

Whenever I feel suicidal I remember that I’m going to be dead a long time. As bad as the pain is, I understand but, why rush to get there?  

Life is like pizza or sex, even when it’s bad it’s kinda good.

I know.  Who wants eat bad pizza?!  Sigh.  Each to his own 😉 but you get the meaning – clever man.

Mike J has used this to inoculate himself perhaps to build suicide resistance.  He and you might be interested to know that the CDC takes the risk of “catching” suicide so seriously that they have made formal recommendations for our protection.  In reading them, we find friendly ways to protect ourselves not only from suicide, but also from the contagion of other extreme thoughts that actions such as suicide cluster in; such as self-injury, catastrophizing, all-or-none thinking, and self-flagellation.

Suicide is contagious as a learned behavior, which is part of why it is so confusing for Western Cultures to conceptualize it in any way apart from morality.  Another reason we have a hard time not moralizing suicide is that we still struggle with where emotions and behaviors come from.  (But moralizing emotions and behaviors is for another discussion.)

When I heard Heidi say those words,

Sometimes I wonder…

despite the patients I have known who’ve died by suicide, despite the knowledge gained in clinical practice and despite the diagnosis I had already reported to her insurance carrier – I had an autonomic response.  My skin erupted in goose pimples, breathing sped up and I realized I was afraid.  Despite being a psychiatrist whom our community imagines thinks of who is going to commit suicide next all the time, I am not.  I am not that jaded.  I am affected and I am still taken off guard.  “Heidi,” I thought.  “No.”

Heidi had the “benefit” of media exposure to suicides, media who was promoting suicide contagion through learned behaviors but also as activating her already infirm brain to increase in degree of illness, producing more suicide-thought symptoms.  When I weighed Heidi’s risk of hurting herself knowing her medical condition, I had thought, “Ok.  She’ll make it. We’ll do this and she’ll heal.”  But when the knowledge of news-worthy suicides spread in her, I knew her medical risks might be catalyzed and I knew enough to be afraid.  “No Heidi.”  What to do?

The CDC tells us to turn the copycat-suicide risk upside down by using the  media, which the gypsy in me really likes.  Instead of being silent and afraid, we can describe the help and support available, explain how to find persons at high risk for suicide, and tell about risk factors for suicide.

Today is Christmas and you may be wondering why I am speaking about suicide today.  It is because I’m hoping that by going toward our fears and our places of pain, that they will lose power over us.  I am hoping that on Christmas, which is for some a positive time, that we have a knowledge that Christmas is for others much less.

Furthermore, I am hoping that we know that we and Heidi are up against our illnesses as well as media-poisons.  And most importantly, I hope that we also know that we have power.  We don’t have to be a victim and we are free to choose.  At every level, we are free.  In every paradigm, we are free.  We are free until we do not – AKA, die.

I’ll take it.  I hope Heidi and you do too.

I hope you will speak into the wind if it be windy.  I hope you will look into the flash if you must and I hope you will fight against your own destruction as long as you can choose.   I hope you know that you are free.

Questions:  How do you oppose the lure of suicide, even when you have to oppose it repetitively and against multiple forces?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  When others inappropriately describe suicide and when your thoughts tell you to die, be your own friend by speaking about suicide, even to yourself, with this knowledge.

33 thoughts on “Resist The Lure of Suicide

  1. I can’t believe this post.There are no coincidences? Just got a call from a sponsee, quick, I could not respond. I hope he does not do something to someone and himself. He won’t answer my calls. It is out of my hands now.

  2. wow, you are a brave soul to write of something so weighty. thank you for thinking of others who might be in the wind and need to hear of love and care and opportunity to make a different choice.

    to all out there, love and light, peace and love, joy and wonderment. thank you for writing this Doc. you are wonder!



  3. I find it disappointing to hear the intonation of my therapist change when I bring up suicide or see the fear in her eyes when my thoughts turn a little hopeless – how do you confront feelings hopelessness if not by expressing them?
    I agree suicide in Western society is frowned upon, judged and feared, so how does one speak openly and courageously about their suicidal ideation without fear of being judged?
    I don’t like being treated like I am something to be feared, watched or ‘expected’ to die. I have never attempted suicide but when times were rough in the past, I had thought of it. I think of death. It is not a fearful or taboo topic and neither should be suicide. It is what it is, it is our trying to rationalize the decision that creates judgement – sort of a widespread thining error.

    • i hear u Medic72. it’s not easy disappointing “you” and others when we get scared. when we get scared on our side of the desk i’m sure it sometimes feels like it stops being about you, and that’s confusing. it can also feel unprofessional. tough one.
      re: your question, which is a mighty good one, i’d have to say that as in all things here at, “it starts and ends w Me.” how do we speak openly and courageously about suicide w/o fear of being judged? by going to the fear ourselves, waiting there, looking around and sitting in it until the fear dissipates. then walk away.
      what do u think? too easy? simplistic? let us know your thoughts. would luv to hear. keep on.

      • Very easy, very simplistic to sit with the fear of being judged and to find within yourself the courage to stand up and allow yourself to be judged without personalizing it…in theory. As a suicide survivor or someone who has entertained the idea, you’ve already faced so much with courage and survived, so why not, right? What’s the worst that could happen? Seriously, you’ve entertained death, sat with it and got acquainted…..I think personally, the hardest judge in standing up would be me. It’s hard to unveil ones inner thoughts and bare them to the world. It’s fear. Fear has this way of taking the upper hand in our behaviour. Standing up and speaking out on suicide, as a person who’s entertained the idea, watched relatives and friends die from it, it would be a very tough thing to do, but it Needs to be done. The stigma has to be removed. I agree with the principle of it.
        With the proper support systems in place, it can be done.

        • “simple,” “easy,” and speaking chinese can all be said and meant sincerely – but are clearly relative to perception of reality. i agree w u Medic. thanks for expressing your confidence that what we hope for can come – keep on.

  4. I’m not surprised that you wrote this one on Christmas day, Sana. I am fully aware of the down side of Christmas because, although I never attempted suicide, I thought (out loud) about it so frequently with my psychotherapist and my pastoral counselor (as well as my husband and one friend in particular, that they were terrifyingly watchful over me especially during the Christmas season.
    To answer your question, though, I considered suicide as the only way to get away from my mind but I “opposed the lure of suicide” by being constantly – and sometimes not all the gently – reminded of what I would do to others (not just my family) if I killed myself. Seeing, although I guess I already knew, the words “suicide contagion” makes what was said to me when I was suicidal much more important. Having spent the last couple of days with my family – and, especially, my ten-year-old granddaughter – made me understand, again, not only what I would have done to my family but what I would have missed, and knowing what I would have missed makes me incredibly grateful to my therapist, counselor, friend, husband and God, all of whom helped me to now be on the other side of where I was then.
    As always, thank you for your thoughtful – and for as hard as it was to read yesterday – timely writing. I hope you and your family had a wonder-filled, love-filled Christmas.

    • Nancy, I just left a comment and then read yours. Thank You for sharing!!! I myself did consider suicide in my past. I am so very blessed and grateful that my life continues today! I can look at it all especially now, and see how dynamic those thoughts were. Also, the painful scars I would of caused to my family and friends. Yes, The LORD is my strength and Life. I will include a poem for you following this reply. You rest in HIS Loving Heart & Promises and know that Christ Is EverPresent and Loves & Adores You!!! Take Care!!! Sincerely, Katherin Marie.

    • Strangely, it’s been a rather depressing week here. Hopefully medication for a third infection this month and the results of a biopsy I had today will both produce good results and my daughter will get through her procedure Thursday without having a problem with anesthesia. I pray…a lot…often…and I believe, but, for those of us with a history – no matter how far away from it we think we are – of mental illness, a week (or two months now, for me) like this causes us to think back and remember and know how close we came and actually get depressed thinking about having been depressed…or suicidal. I’d like to think it’s just me but I have no doubt it’s way too many of us who aren’t in quite as great a shape as we’d like to think we are.

      • i’m sorry to hear u’ve been more down nance. u r wise to know that it will come and it will go. u know as well that many suffer and that u r not chosen to hurt, nor r u alone. brain disease is. it is. sometimes when i talk about it to people who don’t get that the brain gets sick or that emotions and behaviors come from the brain, it seems like i’m trying to describe fairies. nuts. but we know. brain disease is. take care.

      • I’m sorry. Christmas weekend was wonderful and wonder-filled and I loved every minute of it….and then Monday came. It must read like I don’t know what I believe or what I feel. I do. It’s just that life happens so suddenly….Please excuse that change in attitude. I’m sure I’ll be back to whoever I am soon.

  5. Suicidal thinking can become an overpowering consuming atmoshere; that is held in a form of a brainfreeze. The emotions are numb; but, the impact is enormously felt. It’s like all reasoning thought processing is halted and the replaying suicidal calling is prominently heard. As a maginet pulls; so does the suicidal calling. All suicidal thoughts are lies! Not being a remedy for any solution. The thoughts of suicide are a feeling of an intense escape; facing no solution to the problem(s). Everone close to the victim is affected and also devastated. Other lifes continue and carry the scars of the “Whys?” or blame themselves for wishing to have made things better…etc. etc. The uncertainties continue on…the weight of the negative destructive lies continue on…I highly recommend healthy wholesome counseling; not prescriptions. I also, will state that a Christ-centered church will add strength and encouragement for individuals and families and friends. Reach out!!!Do not leave yourself to succumb to the elements of the overpowering lies within one’s thought processing; when facing these suicidal thinking or feelings. Sincerely.

  6. There Is A Place…. when we are hurting. A Place…. when we’re afraid. A Place…. when we are lonely. A Place for You & Me. Those seeking for treasured meaning…for wholeness and harmony…Many journeys, yet, not complete…we venture on… Grasping in reason…to our purpose…Awakened unto a newday’s beginning. Brilliant colors of daybreak’s greeting; envelope my spirit…The joyful choir of the birds nestled atop the stretched forth limbs. The florals come alive; as they dance in the morning breeze…adorned with sparkling jewels of dew; that catch each shimmering ray of light. The air is crisp and filled with the inviting aromas of the blooming fields…a beauty and splendor…that touches my soul… There Is A Place… where you are a part of… A Place… where you are comforted… A Place… where you are adorned… A Place… where you are cherished… A Place… where you are loved… That Place for You…Is In The Innermost Placement Of Our Creator’s Heart…HIS Love for You Is Everlasting…It Is Infinite; Never Diminishing; Never Lessening or Leaving… The Saviour’s Desire Is..our desire & agreement to give HIM: our heart…to desire HIS Loving Way…HIS Tenderness and True Beauty HE Upholds for HIS Creation… JESUS has already given us HIS Heart and LIFE!!! We need then; to give HIM Our Heart and Life!!! JESUS Truly Desires To Show You HIS Love; but, You have to desire and ask and believe…in HIM… where HE IS Ever- Present and Willing To Heal Our Mind, Body, and Soul…into a Prosperous Living Journey With HIM…into eternal LIFE….

  7. I can believe this. 2 friends of mine committed suicide within 1 year of each other. I attended one of the funerals and I have to say it’s very different from attending a funeral of someone who passed of natural causes. Having seen the reaction to his passing I thought for sure that no mater how bad things get, I couldn’t ever put any of my friends/family though that. And then things started to get bad….really bad, and it was hard for me to remember (more like I didn’t want to remember) what it was like for his friends and family to lose him like that. The idea of not being around anymore made me happy, almost euphoric and I had to call upon a friend or two to help me though those bad times. I still have those bad times but thankfully I still have those friends too :).

    • Thank You Purple Pinapple for sharing!!! Yes, the kinship and strength among friends is so very important and definately needed; during are fallible fragile moments. Just please remember who is our closest dearest friend and physician…always near & available for us all….Katherin.

  8. It’s xmas again, and again I can’t see or hear from my kids. For me the holidays are a source of endless pain, but I have to keep on going for my kids. My son hasn’t said a word to me since last February. If I killed myself, his guilt could be more than he can stand. He also failed all four of his classes this semester, and I do not want to aggravate to frail state of mind.
    My daughter is doing very well. She has a boyfriend… a little over a year now… and they are talking wedding bells now.
    My kids are the only reason I am alive now. The thought of suicide is never too far away. In fact, I am fight off another week of suicidal fixation now. I am hoping the thoughts go away soon, because I don’t want to go to the hospital. I don’t want to be part of the statistic of another depress person inpatient for the holidays.

    • Ouch. Hugs
      I guess we r all part of statistics. I’d say there’s no shame in fighting for life but I’m sure it’s easy to say. Shame doesn’t have to make sense to enter. Standing w u, ms courage, while u go toward the pain – counterintuitive but friendly

    • i am sorry you cant see your children. i cannot see my mom. we are in the same spiral you and i. i pray for you light and love, healing and peace. please hold on you are so loved and such an important part of the world!

      i grew up with my mother trying to commit suicide several times, and i was always the one to “catch” her and call for help. i was alone with her at home and a young child.

      the last time i left her there and wasn’t sure what would happen. there has been a lot of suicide in our community close to us this past year, mostly young people and i have been reliving my childhood memories.

      i guess its all part of the circle, and i just want you to know that i hear you. and i understand that i cannot be with my mother and you cannot be with your children, however we can be here together writing to one another and for me today . . that is enough.

      thank you sana for creating this place of connection and healing.

      love col

  9. Belated comment on your interesting and useful post on resisting the lure of suicide…
    How to oppose it – difficult when it is repeated – because, quite frankly, it eventually gets boring and annoying.
    But regardless of that – I reassure the person that they are valued – not just by me, by others too, but definitely by me.
    Keep in regular contact.
    Ask for their help for me.
    I also try to get them to establish baseline certainties. So – they may doubt their ability to soar, but we can find the irreducible core that will not be crushed. A baseline from which to build. A kind of “at least I am…”

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