There are few things more terrifying in ourselves or those we love and care for than thoughts of suicide. While the idea of choosing to end a life seems inexplicable, we are all aware that this does, in fact, happen all too often.
Before I begin, allow me to say a few words to anyone who is currently struggling with thoughts of suicide or who has a friend or loved one in that predicament. While I have helped many with these thoughts and the difficulties that come with them, if you or a loved one are considering suicide, it is important that this be treated as an urgent situation and that help be obtained immediately. While resources like your therapist or your family doctor are important to consider, a trip to the emergency room or a call to 9-1-1 are the fastest, most reliable way towards quick, immediate help.
It is important to note that thoughts of suicide look many different ways. Some of my psychotherapy patients tell me they think sometimes about suicide. Understandably, this becomes a priority in the therapy. I’m not neutral on the issue of suicide–if you’re in therapy with me, or you’re an important person in my life (which is true of everyone who’s in therapy with me) I don’t want you to end your life.
Choosing to end your life is incredibly hurtful to those around you, and it is critical to acknowledge the pain such a decision would cause.
Consideration of suicide, of course, grows out of a great deal of pain and likely a sense of hopelessness. The challenge, as in all of therapy, is to see the possibilities, however slim they may be. If your life seems without hope, then you best get to work creating a more hopeful life. This may seem daunting, but with good help, it can be done. Suicide often comes with depression (and especially major depression), and here too, there is help to be gotten, work do be done, and growth to look forward to.
I’ve also found that choosing to share these thoughts is a critical part of growing past them. For this and other reasons, group therapy is an important option; when choosing to share these thoughts, and the pain that goes with them in a therapy group, the thoughts become less private, less powerful, and have the capacity to change.
There are remarkable things to live for and everyone has the capacity to create a better life. If you’re struggling with thoughts of suicide, get help.