Making sense of suicide

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
Sometimes even to live is an act of courage. – Seneca

One of the most painful events in life is the suicide of a friend or family member. So many mixed feelings can ensue. Survivors often feel deeply saddened, hurt, guilty or even angry that the person chose to take his or her life. Then there are the questions. Anyone who knew the person asks themselves if there is anything they could have done that might have made a difference. Those who were in conflict with the suicide victim – or perhaps slighted them – wonder if they somehow contributed to the tragedy. There is always so much angst around such an event and it is extremely difficult to come to any place of peace about it.

Sadly, there are never any clear answers as to why someone ends their life and we can only speculate. Usually, there is a combination of reasons. There are external factors, which generally have built up over a long period of time – including financial or relationship struggles – and inner factors such as depression, low self-esteem, an overwhelming feeling of sadness and a sense that things will never get any better. There is also the feeling that others would be better off without them. Many individuals, however, can experience all of the above and never consider taking their own lives. Others reach the point of contemplating suicide, but never seriously attempt it.

What accounts for the difference? It seems that some souls seem to carry more than their share of pain. We all have different pain thresholds for physical pain and perhaps the same is true of emotional pain. We also vary in the intensity of our will to live. This is not always a result of life experience; a strong will to live is often seen in pre-mature babies. Some just seem to have an incredible spirit and they defy all statistics, while others quietly let go. Some people see the positive in life, no matter what, while some seem to see only the negative. It is interesting to speculate whether the “will to live” factor is as significant to emotional health as a strong heart is to physical health. Perhaps one day it will be as measurable as blood pressure.

Another perspective is that we come to Earth to fulfill some learning and when we have completed what we came here for, we leave. This is hard to accept if death comes early as a result of an accident or illness. It is even harder when an individual has made the choice to leave this world. Generally, we feel someone’s death should not have happened, whatever the cause. We see a life’s journey as occurring here in this world. It can be hard to accept the soul’s journey includes more than the physical plane and has been “called” to transcend this Earth.

Significantly, one person’s departure becomes part of the learning of many others. A suicide permanently alters the lives of many. It seems like such a waste, but if it happens, we must take from the experience as much learning as we can so we can allow that person, even in death, to positively influence our lives.

This is a way of paying our respects to the soul of that individual. Regardless of how little value the victim placed on his or her own life, we can value the teaching. Though we may never fully understand their choice, we can still honour them, not for taking their lives, but for touching ours.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, Deep Powerful Change Hypnosis CDs and new “Creating Healthy Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca.

1 thought on “Making sense of suicide

  1. I just lost my lifelong best friend. I’ve been reading a lot to try to get some understanding and this article reinforced my line of reasoning. The last two paragraphs are key! I volunteered at the local crisis clinic to, hopefully, learn more and prevent this tragedy from happening to other people.

    However, I don’t think he “chose” to take his life. By the time he did it, it was inevitable, kind of like not choosing to die of cancer or a heart attack. I hope your vision of being able to measure the “will to live” comes true, it could be a lifesaver.

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