Week 2 of the Pessimist to Semi-Optimist project
Please call 9-11, stop by an ER hospital department, call a national suicide hotline or visit suicide.org for help if you think someone is contemplating suicide. Even if there is no evidence and you just have a gut feeling, doing something is better than regretting not having tried later.
Over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year according to the World Health Organization and there are many more who attempt suicide. Discussions of death and suicide are stigmatized in many cultures and not spoken about. The thought of wanting to die occurs comes much more often to those who have a mutation in the suicide gene, SKA2. If SKA2 is mutated, the body can’t suppress the release of cortisol (stress hormone), which leads to severe anxiety, depression and suicide.
If you are reading this, I presume that you are similar to me, that you don’t want to die. Not right now anyways. But life just sucks and dying looks easier than living. There is always hope of some sort and light in the darkness; fumbling to find the way out takes a bit longer for people that are depressed, that’s all.
Brain-xercise Week 2: Out-thinking suicide
“I want to die” is only one thought. According to Thomas Joiner Jr. (his dad committed suicide) and his research team (from Florida State University, Texas Tech University & University of Rochester Medical Center), when “I want to die” is combined with three other thoughts of “I am alone,” “I am a burden” and “I am not afraid to die,” a person will attempt to kill themselves. Suicide is not a cowardly act, it takes an odd type of courage to willingly destroy yourself – it’s not painless or easy and it’s going against the natural instinct of living.
This week I thought it would be useful to try to address all these thoughts with questions & answers:
- “I Want to die” – If a friend told you about the same situation that you are in now, would you tell them to die?
- Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem
- “I am alone” – Who do you expect at your funeral?
- The people attending your funeral are the ones you should call or see in person to talk about your problems with.
- Forget face/reputation – admitting your vulnerabilities will save you, not hurt you. (My article in Ricepaper magazine talks about Asian strengths that become weaknesses in a healthcare crisis. Some things such as face are ingrained in culture and will take a lot of time to change.)
- If you don’t want to talk about your problems with your friends or family, use the healthcare system – visit a doctor or call a help hotline. These people don’t know you and will not judge you because they are professionals.
- “I am a burden” – Who are the people you are a burden to?
- These are the people that will be destroyed when you die and that’s probably not something you want to wish upon them.
- Think about how pissed they will be since they put a lot effort into being a part of your life and then you give up on yourself. You are not a burden to them even though there is conflict sometimes. People fight because they care.
- “I am not afraid to die” – That’s great, do you have any other fears that you can conquer right now?
- Why not use this powerful thought to do good?
The Q & A I filled in for myself is below. Generally I conclude I still have lots of stuff to do, so I can’t die yet. My purposes of helping my family, working and writing are not world changing things, but they are what keeps me going at the moment. I am aware that purposes are transient things. I don’t expect my child to need me when I grow older (empty nest & Netflix awaits!), so my purpose of raising him will be finished one day. Then a new purpose will emerge which will surprise me. Maybe I’ll want to become a superhero. Who knows?!
Living is much more difficult than dying and I suffer from survivor’s guilt everyday. When people tell me how fabulous the afterlife is (no pain, lots of love, light, joy, etc), I wonder why I’m still here. Then I remember, oh right, I still have to support my family and do other crap before I check out.
Semi-optimistic thoughts: You are the only person who can save yourself. No one else can live your life for you! We are drops of water in an ocean, life is short and we have to make the most of our time here.
I hope that doing some Q & A have helped you re-frame some negative thoughts and think about what motivates you and the things you still want to do. No one is useless, we all play multiple roles in our lives and contribute to society in our own different ways.
If you don’t think you have any friends/family who care, at the very least think of your poor dog/cat and your prized comic book collection or toys. Your treasures may not be taken care of properly once you are gone. I have the hoarding gene in me, so leaving my stuff does strike a nerve with me! (I know my Inuyasha doll collection might go in the trash…sigh…better add who should get it in my will!) If there is a will to live, there is a way out of anything.
Look up “suicide survivor” and you will read about how horrible it is to live with the aftermath of a suicide. I am a survivor and it was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Listening to Understanding Suicide by Ajahn Brahmavamso, he makes some good points about suicide being the biggest mistake of someone’s life and to not focus on that – instead, focus on the good things that this person experienced with you. This is a talk I listen to over and over again because my heart was torn to pieces. It is ironic I suppose that I don’t wish someone else to experience becoming a suicide survivor, yet the pain of being one makes me consider such an ending for myself. It’s a vicious, negative wave of destruction that has to be stopped.
Now that this topic has been discussed maybe we should talk about something lighter next week, like hair color as suggested by a friend! Nah, lots of pessimistic thoughts still circling in my little head that has to be dealt with!
Song I’m listening to this week -“Under Pressure” by David Bowie, Queen
[Verse 6: Freddie Mercury]
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance
Why can’t we give love that one more chance
Why can’t we give love give love give love give love
Give love give love give love give love give love
[Verse 7: David Bowie]
Because love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the (People on streets) edge of the night
And loves (People on streets) dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves