i find myself talking about the thing we shouldn’t talk about for the second time in a week. it’s not my fault because my friends bring it up and i want to share about the subject and hopefully have some words that may help you with a struggle you face for yourself or a friend.
i got a call from a friend, we are pretty close. (sorry, had to get some biily joel in there.) she had called to tell me her brother had lost his battle with depression. it came as a surprise to her but subtle indicators had been pointing that way, he had lost a life long job with the state and his wife had recently filed for divorce. those are some pretty big life sucking events. on top of that, there is a family history; another brother who has ms, almost lost his battle, too.
as the conversation went on, she told me i was the first person she called. i would have never in my live thought that i’d be someone’s first call telling me that they had lost a sibling in that way. i guess it’s a case of thinking i didn’t have the wisdom or would have never formed a strong enough friendship to ever receive a phone call like that , or even on top of that, the first one called. I guess , no, i realize i sale myself short. i told her i felt honored that i was the first person she called with such disheartening and difficult news.
i am reminded of kirk strosahl‘s words from The Suicidal Patient, “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” suicide trades a life for the elimination of distress. the distress, whether internal or external, drives the despair. the person ends up valuing the elimination of their distress as a short term gain while they overlook the long term and permanent side-effects of a suicide.
someone who walks the ragged edge steps away if they have only one thing: connections. someone in that place who has someone to reach out to, someone who cares about them, someone they trust, someone that they confide in finds it much easier to turn away. it is the absence of connection that makes it so much easier to make the final and permanent decision.
i can say that’s true for me. the one time i got way to close to the edge, despair had taken over. i had pushed away all my friends and was fighting fiercely with my wife. a valued connection would have given me some place to share and more importantly, a place to be heard and valued. that would made life so much more worth living.
i hate the non-suicidal contracts used by many therapists, not so much for their use of it, but for how it gets used. Too many therapists hear the word suicide, stop the session, and rustle through their papers looking for that piece of paper to cover their ass. by getting the patient’s signature proves they did something if the worst case scenario happens. the patient is reduced to a signature at the bottom the piece of paper. i have no problem with the use of them, just not a first resort. that’s dehumanizing at a time with a person needs to hear they are valued.
as much as i hate the non-suicidal contracts, today, i have a new respect for them. why? because no matter how contrived or forced, if used by the patient, it is a connection. with that, there is hope. hope that the person, by talking to their therapist or crisis line, that they will make it through the day and hopefully that day will make all the difference in their world.
as someone who almost took my own life, i implore you to make connections. secondly, no matter how bad it gets, hang on and maintain those connections and hang on to them for dear life. that is what they are, dear life. it is those connections that will be your lifeline at your time of biggest need.