Is it human to think about Death, Dying and suicidality?

What if there isn’t an end to fear, anger, sadness?

I’m scared to get better – who will I be without it, (depression/anxiety/suicidality)?

Why do I have to get better for someone else?

What do I gain from this?

Why should I stay alive so others feel better?

It is very human to think about death and dying.  And so, taking our own life – wanting to take control of our life via death is natural extension of this.

When does it become pathological?  An illness to cure.

There are many reasons to have these thoughts/intentions.

In order to:

  • avoid having to deal with difficulty
  • get out of a bad situation
  • punish yourself or others
  • release a burden from self or others
  • get to the “other side”
  • succumb/accept/embrace the hopelessness of things ever getting better or changing
  • stop the pain and suffering.

How is this different from the impulsive, compulsive suicidality that creates an element of unpredictability and danger?

Is Suicidality about Death or Not Wanting to be Alive?

Death is taboo, so it is quite enticing to think about.

I remember practicing/rehearsing my family’s death when I was young as a way of desensitizing myself to the inevitability of death.

But is suicidality about death?  Or is it about not wanting to be alive?

How do we approach each of these rationales differently?

What keeps people alive?

The planning and effort involved in taking our lives, the guilt about the sadness of those we leave behind, along with the fear of an attempt that is not completed (and the fallout for that) are some of the reasons that many of us are still living.  But what else?

What are the ethics around the conversation of suicide?  How do we know when someone is “in their right mind” to make conscious, mindful choices or have rational thoughts around suicide?  And who gets to assess this and ultimately decide?

When Young People are Suicidal

Is it strange that young people sometimes want to take their lives because of PE and Math, for example?

Consider the shame and sheer terror of having to face the failure and humiliation that feels as threatening as death itself. So oppressive and overwhelming that it seems preferable to take control of that process of annihilation.  There are many situations that can create powerful feelings like these.

  • Our parents yelled at us and it devastated our psyche
  • Our friend in whom we vested our whole selves abandons us
  • A rumour is going around that smashes our identity and now we are NOT ME
  • Anything important to or about us is Not Seen/Not Heard/Not Understood/ and therefore our whole selves are invisible and worthless…

What does this mean?

If your default setting is feeling bad – aka depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, uncomfortable in your skin… and you don’t believe this will change, is it rational to want to die?

When young people are suicidal, we often look to reasons like social media, friends, problems in their lives that are solve-able or temporary.

If we control for all these forces (remove them/change them) and the bottom line is the young person does not like/hates themselves… will they just be more alone with what/who they hate?

I don’t think most parents feel comfortable about discussing death with their kids for obvious reasons.  Parenthood feels so very personal.  Let’s face it  – it is personal.  We believe our #1 task is to keep them alive to adulthood.

When our kids are not okay, we fear it is our fault.

What if it isn’t?

Or, what if it is?  Because we didn’t do what our kids needed to feel food, love themselves and be healthy in their bodymind?

Or perhaps it is more global than that.  Because we did not honour the ethos of making decisions that will serve the seven generations that come after us.  We are ALL responsible for the current despair our young people are experiencing.

What if there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel – how do you talk about the experience or possibility?

Let’s Open Up the Conversation

We have all been there.  Some of us don’t know what it’s like to NOT be there.

Is it ethical to manufacture a light for the person in the dark?

To hold the light or the hope of the light for them.  To have faith in the adaptability, ingenuity, and compassion of humankind to salvage and care for mother earth and one another.

For now, that is what I will do.

I hope we can all open up this conversation about death and life and the precarious line in between.

And our responsibility to hold the space and nurture it for generations to come.

Kathlyn McHugh RCC, RSW Counselling Practice takes place at the Vitality Clinic in the West Shore Area, close to Victoria BC.

Visit the website at: Home – The Vitality Clinic