A Suicide Disclaimer

"Le Suicide" - Edouard Manet

“Le Suicide” – Edouard Manet

I mention a Suicide Prevention Hotline several times in my About pages. And I’ve posted about it. You may be wondering, is this real? You may also wonder if I’m making light of suicide. Perhaps it’s time for a disclaimer.

According to the American Association of Suicidology, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death. It’s a serious problem.

One of my blogging buddies, Elyse, at FiftyFourandAHalf, once posted about her own attempted suicide many years ago. It’s a funny post, but also a serious post. It’s a detailed description of an involved set of circumstances that eventually led to a sudden decision to kill herself by tetherball. Elyse points out in this post that many suicides are spur-of-the-moment decisions.

Suicide is a heavy subject, and one that many people don’t like to think about or discuss. I don’t blame them. Nothing gets gloomier than the idea of taking one’s own life. But it’s important to think about if you want to avoid being suicidal. So I try to lighten the topic with humor.

I believe suicide begins long before any impulsive decision to commit it. It begins with a mindset. The mindset we allow ourselves to fall into can lead us down a dark path toward a precipitous brink.

We turn ourselves into time bombs, waiting for just the right set of circumstances to trigger the explosion of suicide. I believe that many suicidal people have no awareness of the dynamite lying dormant in their psyche. They don’t recognize their own self-destructive potential.

My Suicide Prevention Hotline shtick is about revealing the kind of mindset that leads to suicide. For example, my Donald Who? post concerns itself with people who take politics so seriously, they easily become disappointed and depressed. Such people are suicidal, in my view, whether they realize it or not.

Suicide prevention begins when we recognize we’re on the path to our own demise. We all get on that path from time to time. The earlier we notice, the sooner we can change course. That’s why it’s important to be able to think about it. (And I mean think, not contemplate.)

I also believe suicide isn’t always such a bad thing. We all have suicidal tendencies to some degree. It’s a necessary part of human nature. For example, who wouldn’t risk their own life to save someone they love? What we have to guard against is taking our suicidal tendencies to an irrational level.

When we can recognize the mindset that leads to suicide, we learn how to avoid getting into such a frame of mind. Staying out of that frame of mind makes us less suicidal, and a whole lot happier.

And now, here’s the disclaimer:

Disclaimer: My Suicide Prevention Hotline is fictional. If you’re feeling hopeless and would like a skilled, trained counselor to talk to, try calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They’re real, and available 24/7.

Categories: Opinion

13 replies »

  1. I’ve read Elyse’ story a couple of times. Very powerful. I love dog of hers! I almost committed suicide in grade 4. A teacher must have picked up on the despair. She took me under her wing and as a result saved my life. I’ll never forget her.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for the shout-out, Tippy. That post was very difficult to write — because it was so serious and so stupid all at the same time. And I realize how very lucky I was not to have gone through with it.

    I’ve done a fair amount of research on suicide in the last 10 years or so. It is a complicated and emotional (obviously) issue, and yes, we should talk about it more. Just as we should talk about death in general more. We can and do all get on that path from time to time. And I agree with your comment that suicide is not always a bad option — I firmly believe in the right to die. Especially when confronted with an illness (NOT a lack of insurance) where you bit by bit lose your life anyway.

    The impulsive suicides are the most devastating, I believe. Because suddenly someone is just not there, and you know, that had they waited a moment, or an hour, had they talked to you … I sometimes think of how my roommate would have had to tell my parents and how they would have been so very devastated. The families of impulsive suicides have the hardest time …

    There are also many ways of killing yourself that are not listed on the death certificate. My eldest sister, a kidney patient who was on dialysis stopped her dialysis; she’d had enough of the disease. She was a nurse, I am sure she knew what would happen — or part of it. I will spare you the details, but it was a painful, very painful end for her. But knowing that it was her choice made it easier to accept for me. And that wouldn’t have been the case had she used another method. Strange.

    Disclaimer or not, I think we all work on suicide hotlines — when we talk to our friends, family. When we smile at someone who needs that contact. Not knowing your background, I’m not sorry that it’s not a real hotline where you take calls. I think of the liability involved, and in the broken hearts of anybody who fails to help stop someone. 40+ years ago my then-boyfriend worked on a suicide hotline. He was 16. He had no training, wasn’t a particularly good listener. I admired his willingness but …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, that’s quite a long comment. But there really is a lot to the subject. I do believe there are many more suicides than accounted for in the statistics. Maybe I’ll do a post on that. And I agree that we are all working on a suicide hotline, metaphorically. Sometimes, all we have to do is just listen to have an impact and prevent a tragedy. Sorry about your sister. In California we recently legalized doctor assisted suicide, just like they have in Oregon. The only tragedy there is that it’s taken so long to pass such a law. I definitely believe in the right to end one’s life in such cases of chronic illness.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That and I tend to overwrite comments! Legalized doctor assisted suicide makes so much sense. Especially when the patient is going to get there anyway, and so many people end up with no QoL, no life and lots of pain and medical expenses for their family. Put me in front of a bus, please!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Why suicide must be prevented? Why can’t we respect people’s right to their own bodies, and let them die as they wish? Why do we find it so hard to accept suicide? Why can’t people end a life that was forced upon them, that they never asked for?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think these are great philosophical questions, which I think everyone has to answer for themselves. The best I can do is give you my own answers.

      I think it’s best to try to prevent a suicide when it’s a spur-of-the moment decision. After the person calms down and can think rationally, they may be glad they were stopped.

      I think Elyse’s long comment, above, eloquently expresses why we find it hard to accept suicide. It’s hardest when it’s a sudden, impulsive suicide. But when we know the person voluntarily left this world after giving it careful consideration, it’s easier to accept.

      As for people ending a life that was forced upon them, this is a metaphorical question. I have no answer, because I don’t know if our lives were forced upon us, or if we came to this world voluntarily, knowing what we were getting ourselves into.

      Thanks for your questions! I think they do a good job of reflecting the controversy that surrounds suicide.


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