Robin Williams’ suicide made me so sad! As a therapist, I know that when someone is in enough pain that they are having even fleeting thoughts of suicide, that person is feeling pretty hopeless much of the time. When the pain becomes even more intense and more pervasive, it can become all-encompassing. Each day can begin to feel like agony. At that point, escape from the searing pain may seem like the only answer. Rather than being an occasional thought, suicide may oten appear to be the only doorway to end the trauma.
When someone reaches such a devastating reality, they are disconnected from much of what others would consider rational thinking. They don’t see another way out. They aren’t able to grasp what their actions will truly mean to their loved ones. They just want relief. They’re consumed with the darkness, fear, and hopelessness of their own agony.
They don’t need our judgements. They, and those closest to them, need our compassion and caring. If a suicide has happened, the survivors are going to need time to grieve their loss, to process through all of their own pain, to ask their own unanswerable questions, and to figure out how to keep putting one foot in front of the other, until some healing begins to take place. Life will go on for them, but it will never be the same. In time, their pain will lessen, they will figure out how to cherish the good memories, and gently let much of the bad go.
Death is part of life. It will eventually come to all of us. The tragedy is for it to come too soon, and at our own hands – because of a pain too deep to bear. Most of us have learned coping mechanisms throughout our lives, but sometimes what we’re facing exceeds our ability to cope. Other times there are mental illnesses that rob us of our connection to the reality that others share.
As a therapist, I believe in the value of reaching out for help from professionals. The help needed can vary with the individual, and their personal situations. I, also, think there’s a time for medication and treatment facilities.
I want people to be aware of the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at: 1-800-273-8255. It’s there as a resource for those able to reach out in their dark despair. It’s also there for the loved ones that don’t know where else to turn when they fear for someone’s life.
We need so badly to improve our mental health system, so that it better meets the needs of those with mental/emotional illnesses. We, just as badly, need to take the stigma out of having a mental illness. It’s gotten better, but we have a long way to go, if we want people to more freely reach out for help when it’s needed.
If you feel this post might be helpful to someone, please pass it on, or share it in whatever way seems best to you. Thank you for helping to spread the word. Kindness, compassion, empathy, and caring are needed by all of us. Let’s generously spread them around, because we don’t know the burdens that others might be silently carrying.
Until next time,