Understanding the Suicidal Mind
My husband and I recently took a trip to NYC and had the opportunity to visit the World Trade Center Museum and 9/11 Memorial. I have to say that no person with a heart can make it through that museum without weeping. So much pain, such darkness, such sorrow… Surrounded by thousands of people walking through, the reverent silence was eerie, only occasionally interrupted by sniffles and sobs. As we slowly made our way through the museum, each of us stopping at different debris relics and reading story after story of both remarkable survival and heroic death, I found myself drawn to a corner tucked away behind most other displays… within that dark corridor was a sickeningly heart-wrenching tribute to the jumpers. Picture after picture of the people falling… and eye-witness accounts of the people who made that hopelessly tragic decision. We left that museum both in solemn sadness, sitting silently side by side on the train. Later on, as my husband and I processed what we saw, that corridor was the first thing I brought up. What did they see and feel in their final moments that drove them to make such a decision to jump? To willingly step off the ledge toward imminent death? The answer was glaringly obvious: it was really a choice between deaths. I imagine that those who perched on the ledges of Tower 1 and 2 before collapse were attempting to escape the dark hole beneath them; they were reaching for fresh, clean air as their lungs burned from the immense heat and the 3,000 degree inferno at their backs. While still absolutely tragic, their choice makes sense to most. The hopelessness makes sense; and the desire to escape overwhelming pain and suffering also makes sense…. But what DOESN’T make sense to people… are the past and present-day jumpers who have no visible dark hole beneath or immense heat behind them. The ones who take their life when they seemed to have so much ahead of them and in their future.
When suicide hits close to home, I frequently hear a litany of questions from the unknowing:
Why would anyone want to do that?
I just don’t understand how anyone could do that! So selfish!
Makes no sense to me…
So what I would like to attempt to explain in this blog post today is a truth that I think many miss: While you cannot see the black hole and the immense pain behind their choice, IT WAS THERE. While you cannot understand the ‘why’… for that person, suicide was A CHOICE BETWEEN DEATHS. For the person in the burning inferno of darkness and overwhelming, crushing emotional and mental pain, suicide seems like the light through the lung-searing smoke… it looks like the clean air, the blue sky. From their perspective, their life has become like the obliterated floors of the World Trade Center and in their own minds, to stay is to die a slow and painful death in perceived years of suffering…
However I must say with absolute certainty that THIS IS A COMPLETE DECEPTION! While the pain is very real, very tangible and a staggering, suffocating feeling, death is NOT the true way out of pain. THAT is A LIE. The truth about pain is that it is does not last forever, making suicide a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Life is a series of seasons, full of mountains, valleys and plains. But for a person in the midst of such depressing turmoil, no other way out of the pain seems viable, or within reach.
Depression, as many know, is more than just sadness. For a person experiencing depression, hopelessness has hijacked their brain; and every day becomes a battle between hope and hopelessness. No one starts out with the intention to end their life. And as such, please understand that these people have fought. They fought for as long as they could. They fought as hard as they could. They searched for hope and they wrestled with their pain…often… alone. But the truth about suicide is that it is actually a spiritual battle. You may choose to disagree with me, but I do believe there is a very dark and demonic element to it. It is a debilitating, isolating deception that clouds the mind and is so completely blinding that its victims are unable to see anything outside of or beyond their pain. In the moment that hopelessness wins… I believe that a dark shroud descends and the individual becomes the target of an evil thought-assault of lies. I believe that within their head, in what they think is their own voice, evil shouts messages of shame, of failure, of worthlessness, of loneliness and of unlovability. I believe the forces of darkness even tell them that their family would be relieved, or better off without them. And I believe that this thought-assault is so loud, so insistent, so tormenting that a person already distraught and believing of them feels they have no choice but to comply. No choice but to listen and to end the pain…end the voices, even. So again, while not everyone may agree with me, I strongly believe that the suicidal hear these lying voices in their minds at the moment of choice; and those voices are straight out of the pit of Hell.
So today, if you have heard thoughts like these in your head, I want to speak to you. THESE ARE LIES! And these are NOT YOUR THOUGHTS! They may be in your voice, but they are not from you. CHOOSE TODAY not to listen to them ANYMORE! REJECT THEM. There is ALWAYS hope. Even if you cannot see it, I promise you, it is there.
Please, I am begging you, talk to someone. Don’t be afraid anymore. There are people that are willing to help you. We fight lies with truth. So here is the truth:
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. God knit you together in your mother’s womb. That means you have intrinsic worth and beauty. You have purpose.
You may have made mistakes, but you are not a failure. The future is still bright. You can make things right. You can start new.
You are loved. Regardless of what you may have been told…regardless of the way you may have been treated, regardless of what you think or believe…you are loved unconditionally by God, your maker. He made you JUST to LOVE you. And you can experience His love. You can feel it. His love can heal you. He can make you whole again.
The way out of your pain is not through death. It’s through vulnerability, transparency, authenticity; it’s through reaching out for help… and learning the truth about how incredible, amazing, wonderful and loved you really are!
As dark and suffocating as your pain may feel right now, IT WILL NOT LAST FOREVER!!! The storm ALWAYS breaks. The morning ALWAYS comes. The sun ALWAYS rises. Just hang on! Hang on please!!!
Your loss will NOT be better for everyone. Your family will NOT be relieved. That is a lie from Hell! Your family will grieve for the rest of their lives. There will never be a single day that your loss is not felt. Your children will battle your decision forever. They will never understand why you left them. Don’t give up! Keep fighting! Get help!
You CAN survive this pain. Moment by moment. Fighting each lie with the truth. You can breathe the fresh air without jumping! You can WALK out of that burning building. If you ask for help, there are many people who will show you the stairs! And there are many people who will walk with you, and at times, carry you down! It may seem like too many flights down through the unknown…through darkness with the flames so close, but if you focus on only one step at a time, YOU CAN MAKE IT! And you will gain strength in the arms of those around you.
And for all who wrestle to understand this… I ask you to please take care of your words and your expressions as you process and ponder this subject. You never really know what those around you are secretly battling… even those closest to you. At the very least, judgment and disgust in your reactions can cause you to be instantly crossed off someone’s list of potential confidantes… but at the worst, it can inadvertently confirm to the struggling that there is indeed something wrong with them, reinforcing hopelessness.
So please, no matter which side of this you are on… if you are struggling, reject the lies. Seek help! You will not regret it! If you are battling confusion on this issue, seek compassion; seek to understand… seek to love. Just love everyone. Everyone around you. Even those who are mean and hurtful to you. They are not ok. They are hurting. Love is what we need. Unity. Compassion. Noticing people. If we lock arms in love and compassion, we can fight the lies of suicide… together.