A Conversation About Suicide by Jerry Brouwers, Ph.D.
Do you feel feel angry, unloved, unwanted, hurt, hopeless, crazy, suicidal? What about stressed, frustrated, pissed off, or just generally a problem to everyone and everything? Welcome to the down side of life. Everyone gets to visit this place but (thankfully) no one has to live here. It may feel like you’ve moved in, unpacked, and thrown away the key to happiness, but you won’t be in this place with these thoughts and these feelings and these problems for the rest of your life.... unless you commit suicide. In which case, it will have been for the rest of your short and unhappy life. With suicide, you’ve cheated yourself (and everyone else in your life) of any chance to find a better place.Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Sure, easy for you to say, but my problems are different. Well, yes, but not really. We like to think of ourselves as unique and we all are in some ways.But the things that we share as humans are way more common than the things that divide us. Other people have felt the way you do and have found ways to feel different. Being suicidal is like staring at the sun. All you can see are your problems, nothing else. Even looking away doesn’t help, because you are blinded to anything else, at least for a while. But only for a while because our vision clears up and we can see a lot more of the world around us. And some of what we see looks normal or even pretty good and certainly hurts a lot less than staring at the sun.
It’s a secret. You’ve promised yourself not to talk about suicidal thoughts or you’ve gotten friends to promise not to tell anyone.Pretending these thoughts don’t exist only makes them worse.The strongest thing that people can do is talk about their weakness. This is reverse backwards, but if you think about it the reverse is also true;people who are always pumping themselves up are people we see as weak.The best way to reduce suicidal thoughts is to talk about them freely with a trusted adult.It’s not fair to your friends to make them keep life and death secrets. They will feel responsible for the rest of their lives.
Nobody could understand.People can’t see what’s inside unless you tell them.Likewise, you can’t see how people look at you unless you let them in.How we understand ourselves is always limited by the good and the bad things that have happened to us.It’s what makes us who we are.Being suicidal is feeling that the future will always be the same as the present.Life hurts now and we can’t predict the future.But I can guarantee that the future will be different than the present.
People would be better off without me.Not likely.Suicide is a uniquely aggressive way to die.Aggressive because it always involves a lot of anger against yourself and against anyone who cares about you.Anger is a primary, direct emotion that comes from loss, disappointment, hurt, or frustration.Anger turned into suicide is permanent for you and for those who care about you.Living means you have a chance to have/be something different.
What can I do? It’s hopeless. Talk to someone; a parent, a teacher, your bestfriend’s parent, a counselor, a relative, anyone.The truth is you won’t feel this way forever. You won’t be a teenager forever.You won’t have these problems forever.If your friends are suicidal, talk to an adult, even if you promised not to.Life is full of broken promises and this is one worth breaking.I promise.
Dr. Brouwers is a licensed psychologist who practices in Honolulu, HI. He has listened to adolescents for the past 25 years in hospitals, schools, day treatment programs, and clinics.