Suicide

It’s Wednesday again.  It’s Suicide Prevention Week.  So instead of my customary Wednesday Breaking the Silence of Stigma/Voices of Mental Illness interview, I’m going to talk about suicide.

Of course talking about suicide may be triggering to some people, so if you’re triggered by it, stop reading now.

I’m not going to talk about statistics or any of that stuff; it’s all over the Internet right now and you can easily access it for yourself.  This is a personal essay about my own dance with suicide, or as I prefer to think about it, leaving the planet on my own recognizance.

Life is finite.  We all have our time to be born, to live, and to die.  King Solomon wrote about that in Ecclesiastes, and The Byrds wrote the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” based on King Solomon’s Book.  Those are the constants of life:  Birth, the changes of living on the Earth, and the change of leaving the earth, whether in a natural way like disease or old age, or an unnatural way such as a car accident or a tree falling or a tsunami or something like that.  Or murder.  Or suicide.

Is suicide a variety of murder?  Some would say yes.  In my spiritual tradition (I have renounced the term “religion” because I no longer relate to it in that way), the soul is virtually injected into the body, to be taken back to its source when its mission on earth is finished.  Therefore the body is a vessel for the soul, and the human who embodies that soul does not own it and therefore does not have the right to prematurely abort its mission, because it has been assigned its mission by the Higher Source.  I can buy that, and that is a philosophical barrier to my leaving the planet before I am taken.

I think about it all the time, though.  There is not a day when I do not fantasize about leaving the unpleasantness that is my life.  For some reason, I have been given a life filled with sickness, pain, loneliness, failure, and trouble after trouble after trouble.  If I attain a goal, sooner or later it will be taken away from me.  I am not just feeling sorry for myself.  These are simple facts that boggle the mind.

I do have one joy in my life, and I am afraid even to write this, because I fear that my joy will be snuffed out:  I have a son who is the one and only reason that I remain on the planet.  I pray that the Universe lets me keep him, not so much because I would instantly leave if he disappeared, but that he is truly my one and only source of joy.

That is one of two reasons that I have not yet left the planet.

The other one is that many years ago I knew someone who took his own life, right outside my house, using my own gun.  It was a horrifying experience, and I was thrown into jail on suspicion of murder until his suicide note was found, analyzed, and found to be authentic.

When I got out of jail I returned to the spot where he had shot himself, and sat myself down on a stump that happened to be right there.  I meditated on his energy field, and he appeared to me: not physically, or visually, but I felt his presence very near.

He said to me:  If you are thinking of doing this, do not do it.  We are sent into our bodies to accomplish certain tasks, of which we are unaware.  If we kill our bodies, then are not relieved from the tasks.  We still have to accomplish our missions, which are now revealed to us; but without bodies to carry out these tasks, it is even more difficult than it was in life.  No matter how much you think you are suffering now, without a body your suffering will still exist, yet even more so because you will lack a physical existence, a vessel to contain you and make it possible to do your mission without further pain.

And then he left me.  I sat weeping, because I did not want to be here.  I was seventeen years old.  Now, approaching the age of sixty at the end of this month, I still long for the release of death, to be relieved of the suffering of this world.

My spiritual tradition tells me that the difficulties I experience are all symptoms of carrying out valuable spiritual tasks, and that the more of them there are, the closer I approach the clearing of spiritual blockages, so that my path to the “world to come” will be bright and clear.  I certainly hope this is the case.  I am not the kind of martyr who welcomes catastrophe for its own sake.  I don’t like it.  I loathe it.  I just want peace and quiet, and, if it’s not too much to ask, even happiness, even reasonable prosperity from honest work, even a brain that functions and doesn’t betray me around every corner.  And freedom from vermin, both many-legged and two-legged.

My suicide plan is beautiful.  It involves no violence, no overdoses, no trauma.  I won’t tell you what it is, because some of you might be tempted, and that would indeed be murder.

But, for the reasons I have stated above, it must remain only a fantasy, to soothe me when my brain is eaten with fire, or when another of my dreams goes up in smoke.

I wish for you, that you would never have to live like this.  I wish you joy and peace and love, or whatever it is that makes your life pleasant and delightful.

Leave a comment

41 Comments

  1. Wonderful post………I wish you joy and peace and love also……

    Reply
  2. Very powerful and I know so many who need to read this, but sadly, theyre not ready yet. Its a double edged sword you know. Im happy you chose to stay with us until God calls you home. Keep fighting my friend.

    Reply
  3. I’ve known two people who’ve committed suicide — both of whom I loved in different ways. When I was mentally/emotionally/spiritually able to visit their graves — their deaths occurred two years apart — I sensed turmoil rising up from their grave and hanging in the atmosphere. I could see it in my mind’s eye as a dark, jumble of swirling things. As time passed and I went again, the turmoil had greatly lessened. As time passed again, I went back to their graves and the turmoil was over. I knew they were at peace. I did not put this together until I’d gone to the second person’s grave for the first time and realized the same turmoil was there. This always makes me ponder, among other things. I wish you’d read my post “The Door To Suicide” if you haven’t read it yet.

    Whereas I know what happened in the previous paragraph was real, how does this or your words about completing the mission we were sent here to do apply to accidents or so-called “acts of God” taking us out of this life?!? That’s rhetorical. I know you don’t have the answer any more than I do.

    Excellent post, by the way!! 🙂

    Reply
    • Thank you, and I will go and read your post. The turmoil that you felt has to do with the fact that there are five levels to our souls, two of which are connected to the body. When the body dies in a natural way, those parts naturally return to the whole “soul body” and nothing is left but a shell. When the body dies by means of suicide or murder, there is often a disconnect and one or two soul levels stay attached to the body. They get very confused and distraught, and that is what a very sensitive person such as yourself can feel. That’s what ghosts are, too: “disembodied souls.” Only the turmoil that you felt by the graves is the “embodied souls” that couldn’t get free except through a difficult process of rectification. “Acts of God” are actually just that: God takes someone out of the world and straight to the World to Come. It’s actually a good thing. I pray for it all the time: struck by lightning, tree, etc. etc. it may seem morbid but it would be a tremendous blessing. The above information is from authentic Jewish kaballah, the ancient science of understanding the way the Universe works.

      Reply
      • Hah. Kathy, my memory is so shot nowadays. I went and read–actually re-read–your post “The Door…” and saw that I had already “liked” it and commented! But I didn’t remember a darn thing, so it was like reading it for the first time. It’s a great post, beautifully written and incredibly poignant. I have to tell you, this memory loss thing is for the birds. I’m now on some med that they give people with Alzheimer’s, to try to keep it from getting worse. That’s another argument I have with God. I’m threatening that if it gets to the point where I’m not able to function, well…what’s the point? I have a lot of answers to that question from the Jewish point of view, but none of them make me feel any better about a meaningless life.

        Reply
        • Just something to ponder: You help so many people through your blog, not to mention what’s going to happen when you get your book published and not to mention all the ones you helped when you were doctoring professionally — to me that is not in any way a meaningless life.

          At the same time, I get it. I find myself saying the same thing and my best sister will counter with something like I just wrote in the above paragraph!! 😀

          So glad you still liked my post, even if you didn’t remember liking it. I have some memory problems that began with this illness and, yes, it does suck!!

          Reply
      • Naturally, I read your second response first which means I’m reading your first response secondly. Confused? I don’t blame you!! 😀 I have never heard of five parts of the soul, so I will have to Google and see what more I find. See, without you my education would be poorer!! 🙂

        Reply
        • The fifth paragraph of this article will give you a VERY brief introduction to the Five Levels of the Soul. To understand it more thoroughly, read the book Inner Space by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. If you can’t find a copy in the US email me (if you want it) and I will get you one from Israel. I will be teaching this book in Asheville, NC (if everything works out the way I hope it will) and will be recording the classes in MP3 format for those who want to partake from a distance. Here is the link to Rabbi Avraham Trugman’s article from his highly recommended website Ohr Chadash (New Light, a phrase from Psalms) http://thetrugmans.com/949/yom-kippur-and-the-four-letter-name-of-god/

          Reply
  4. whatever reason one has that keeps them rooted, keeps them here, keeps them going is a good enough reason. its when one doesn’t have a reason that they are able to leave via suicide.

    i’m sorry you feel the struggle and pull and desire to act on your plan. but i know that feeling myself all too well. i too have a plan, and i too think long and hard about it quite frequently. but thankfully, i have my 2 wonderful kids in my life, and they are quite certainly my only reason for being here. i often wonder/worry what will happen when they leave home, what reason i will have to linger here then.

    here’s hoping that we might find some peace, maybe even a bit of prosperity, and stop all the painful struggling.

    Reply
    • Amen to your hope. Even when they grow up and leave home, they’re still your kids, they still need you, and they would still be devastated if you left them. My son is 28 now, and I know my leaving would destroy him. So I just keep plodding along. Some days are better than others. Sometimes I have to drug myself into sleep for a day or two at a time, especially if I have a mixed episode, to keep the suicidal urge at bay.

      Sending hugs–

      Reply
  5. It seems like my life is your life in that everything always seems to somehow go horribly wrong, and no matter how hard I try I just cannot seem to get a break in this life. I actually wrote my suicide note two days ago, it’s under my mattress…and today I took the steps to secure my way out of this world. I don’t know if I can go though, my ‘son’, my dog who is the only reason I stay on this planet, needs me right now. So I just keep on struggling hoping that one day I’ll get a break in this life…Just one is all I need, but hope is fading fast, and the pain in increasing it seems like daily. However, thank you for your story, you do give me a bit of strength to continue a bit longer at least.
    Doug

    Reply
    • Doug, thank you for writing. It sounds like you are in terrible pain. I’m so sorry. I can relate. You know what? I have a dog too, and I rely on her to keep me alive, as well as thinking about my human son. I think about what would happen to her if I died. She would end up in some shelter….You know, all we can do is just keep putting one foot in front of the other, hoping that, as you say, maybe one of these days we’ll get a break in this life. I know one thing for sure: if I kill myself, I will never know if that break might have been right around the corner waiting for me. Death is completely final. We can’t undo it, we can’t come back from it. What if I died today, and tomorrow that wonderful thing I’ve been waiting for finally arrived? But I would be gone, and I would have missed it. So I keep on plugging along, putting one foot in front of the other. Sooner or later I will die. We all will. I keep praying for that bolt of lightening. But in the meantime I keep feeding my dog twice a day, and anytime I need my hand licked she is happy to do it for me. I have to settle for these little rays of light. They are there, even though sometimes the darkness is so thick I forget they exist. Take good care of your dog, and feel free to write to me at moxadox at gmail dot com.

      Reply
  6. savemefrombpd

     /  September 11, 2013

    It’s a REAL tough subject to speak about. Having only just attempted to end my own life 2 months ago and now thinking back to that time.

    I’m not feeling suicidal right now, so that’s a good thing. And please God, I won’t go back to that situation. It was terrible. No words for it.

    I have a sense of hope now so that is keeping me going but I am yet to understand the reason for the suffering that I am going through. And others too.

    I was told by two religious leaders that my life on this earth is like nothing. That my soul has come back to be fixed (tikkun) and even though I will and am suffering in this world, in the world to come, I will have eternal peace and happiness. And not only that, I will have more peace and happiness because I have suffered in this world now. This has never fulfilled me as an answer – Because how can we perceive the world to come and how do we know that it even exists 100% and how and what that means?

    Just got to leave it in God’s hands and go with it I guess…

    Reply
    • Hi, thanks for checking in here, and I’m SO glad to have your perspective on this, since I know you’ve been through a lot, and a lot, and a lot. Yeah, I continually hear the whole tikkun (rectification) thing…in fact just last night I heard a retelling of part of a Rebbe Nachman story, giving the example that if God or true righteousness or the Secret of Life or whatever you want to call it, that it’s as if that is the King, and a King is always surrounded by guards, and the closer you get to the King there are more and more and more guards…and it says by that, that our troubles and confusions and pains are those guards, and so the more of them we find ourselves encountering, the closer we are really getting to the King. Which all sounds lovely and cute, but at this very moment in time I just don’t buy it. Which is not to say that I don’t tell that very thing (usually in different language) to my poor old father, when he wonders why he is left on Earth to suffer, when he can’t actually do anything at all that is of use….I tell him that he is doing something of use because he is giving others an opportunity to do chesed, kindness, in taking care of him. Now I suppose that is true, and in the belief system he is doing his final tikkunim (rectifications) in this life, but to my earthly eyes it just seems like playing a cruel joke on a dear person who has little left but pain and suffering. I suppose when our time comes we will either know the truth, or we won’t because there really is nothing else after we die. I certainly don’t know. But I can tell you that if indeed there is a God (which I often doubt), and if it’s true that you get to meet him/her/it/them after you die, I am going to give (who/whatever) a piece of my mind.

      Reply
      • savemefrombpd

         /  September 11, 2013

        Absolutely! God’ll get a piece of my mind too! Oh boy.

        It’s all very hard to understand and ‘believe’ in because I, at least, like factual things so I ask ‘how can you know that?’ Etc. but from a religious persons point of view ‘it’s true’ and that’s it. Even without some tangible proof or anything. So I struggle too with my belief in God and in the world to come, if those things exist.

        I’m so sorry to hear about your father’s suffering. I can’t comprehend things like this. I do just hope that it is all worth it in the end and in the meantime, obviously I just try to do my best at taking each day as it comes and making the best out of whatever I can do or say etc.

        It’s all very interesting and confusing at the same time!

        On we go and I wish you and your family well even in the circumstances. Things can change and turn around. Even a bit.

        Reply
  7. Thank you, Laura, for your grace-full voice.

    Reply
  8. Laura, A very well written post full of emotion…thank you so much for sharing. I am saddened that you see your entire life negatively…I mean, I have certainly been there, and been at the point of loving my plan for ending my life and thinking it was a good idea (more than once, actually). Thankfully I was able to reach out for help and get past those times. And, yes, having kids really does help with keeping those thoughts at bay. I suppose I hope for you that you could find at least one thing in each day that was positive for you. I have been through a great, great deal of negative stuff in my life (though not as much as you have, I know from all your sharing) including living with chronic pain every single day for many years as well as other health problems, and have come to believe that even in difficult times there are things to be grateful for. At times when I can’t see them clearly I make a gratitude list each day to make myself recognize them. Currently I’m in a pretty bad spot…more depressed than I’ve been in many years. Most of it is related to my husband being near the end of his life and very, very ill. Talk about someone who is so ready to leave this earth and all the pain and misery he faces in his body each day! My soul aches for him, and for me and our kids (ages 15-23, the oldest special needs). Not only is every day filled with a great deal of misery of many kinds for him and thus for us who love and live with him, I fear and dread the day he is no longer here (as much as I want him to be free and filled with peace and with God). I do have to take time these days to remind myself that we have a roof over our heads, electricity to run everything, a vehicle that works, enough money for gas, the bills, food; three wonderful kids, some great dogs and other animals that brighten our life and I’ve had the blessing of being with my one true love and soul mate who loves me like no other man could. Feeling these blessings makes my life okay, despite all the negatives. And, gratefully, during all the bad I know God is right there with me, helping me along the path that is my journey. He’s made me useful in other people’s lives, because sometimes it’s simply not about me, but about someone else. And because of what I’ve lived I am able to help them in some way.
    Sorry for going on and on. I really am not preaching! I think I am partly wanting to clarify things for myself by writing all of this to you. Though, I must say, my hope for you to see good in your life is very real, because you truly deserve it! You help others every day by sharing your experiences and feelings and wisdom here…that makes me care about you. Thank you so much, Laura, and you are in my thoughts and prayers. Peace to your heart, Sara

    Reply
    • Thanks, Sara. Peace to your heart too. Thank you for your kind words. I’m very glad to know I’m helping someone and not just banging away at the keyboard to amuse myself 😉

      I’m so sorry to hear about your husband. Having never had a real marriage, I find the thought of having and then losing a lifetime lover-mate-partner to be much, much worse than living a lifetime alone. Maybe it is a blessing that I have not had to go through that. It’s good that you’re able to look around you and see the blessings that you do have, and the feeling (I’m saying this because I mostly don’t feel: I’m numb) to appreciate them. I wish you strength and comfort in these coming days; I don’t envy you. May God surround you with love and comfort, and may your husband go in peace when his time comes.

      Reply
  9. My husband of 49 years took his life las October. He had bipolar disorder for over 20 years. Most of the time he could pull out of it and lived a happy life for two or three months before his next episode. When he took his life he took mine with him. I have not had any joy since that day. He transferred all his pain to me and there it remains. My soul is sick and this consumes me each minute. I have thought about suicide many times. I have sat in the car with the garage door closed. I bought a gun that I still have. The one thing that has kept me from it has been my son. Suicide brings so much suffering to those left behind. I invite you to read my blog and it will give you a small insight into the devastation it brings.

    Today I picked up the gun he used from the sheriff’s office. I took it to a beautiful river in the mountains and flung it as hard as I could. I had legal permission to do so. Before I tossed it I put it under my chin and pulled the trigger. It didn’t have any bullets in it, but I wanted to feel it against my chin. So now I am left with a tortuous life to live as I watch the sad face of my son who lost his Dad and is now seeing his mother deteriorate into the face af sadness.

    Reply
    • I am so sorry. This is so sad. You are telling me exactly why I do not do this thing, however much I want to. This is why, when people want me to enter with them into the debate, “Is suicide a selfish act?” I have to say no and yes. No, because the person who commits suicide is in such pain that it blots out everything, everything, and yes, because as you have so poignantly said, it transfers the pain onto those who are left behind.

      I’m sure you know that your son is at high risk for suicide already; a study by Johns Hopkins Children’s Center found that children under the age of 18 who lost a parent to suicide are more than three times more likely to suicide than the general population. Think about that when you think about following your husband: if you were to go the same route, you would be doubling even THAT grim statistic, putting your son SIX TIMES more at risk than the “normal” population.

      I hope that you are in intensive grief counseling. As the anniversary of his death approaches, I’m sure you know the grief will intensify. I hope your son is also in therapy. You have both had your lives exploded, and you will need a lot of time and help for the pieces to all come down; and when they do come down, you will not be the person you were before, because that person is gone forever.

      The person you will become depends on you, now. I know it may be more than it seems possible to do. And you are able to take it on, especially after you get through this anniversary. Then healing can begin in earnest. In five years you will still be sad, but not all the time, not consumed. You will be someone else, someone new. If you can help your son, now, and make helping your son your lifeline, you will both be someone new in five years.

      Grab this lifeline and don’t let go.

      Reply
  10. I can’t put it into words exactly but I feel very emotionally about your post. I guess I relate, it made me think…I like to think I survived my attempt because there is something I’m supposed to be doing. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply
    • You’re welcome, and thanks for letting me know how you feel about it. I’m glad you can see why you were sent back. Certainly you are doing wonderful work, and you might not have had the insight that you do, had you not gone and looked over that fateful edge. I’m glad you’re here. You’re one of my heroes!

      Reply
      • Thanks, that means a lot. It’s been really amazing reading about other people’s stories with suicide. Despite the campaigns no one wants to talk about it and it think it’s more us (those who think about it and/or have attempted) that don’t want to talk about it. It’s painful and I don’t know if many realize that. Thank you for always being so open with your posts. You’ve been helping me, even if I haven’t commented 🙂

        Reply
        • I guess we’re helping each other then! Yes, it’s excruciatingly painful for those of us who dance with the Grim Reaper whenever he invades our lives. It’s devastating for those who are left behind. And yet, unless we open ourselves up and start talking about it, it just festers like a sore, there all the time and never gets better. The Internet is making a huge difference, because it’s basically group therapy without the social awkwardness. You can open up, and there are so many people struggling who want to make contact. Take good care–

          Reply
  11. Your post was difficult to read, perhaps I should have stopped at your warning. The reason I didn’t is because I actively seek out everything I can concerning suicide, etc because as you know, my daughter took her life 4-11-13 leaving behind a life that was so wonderful on the outside. The part we didn’t see, that she never shared, was her very horrible depression she said she had all her life and could not stand living with it anymore. The only way I survive is by thinking and hoping that she is now at peace and no longer in mental pain. It’s the ONLY way. It hurts to think her troubled soul still swirling around in torment due to the vessel she left and what she had left to do. But I realize that we must not think suicide an end to our troubles, never to romanticize it, so It’s good that you do that. I’m in no way putting down your post, but I just couldn’t help but to comment that I suffer from depression too and the only thing that ever kept me from leaving this earth were my two girls, seeing them without a mother was intolerable and knowing they would have to go their whole life living in the memory of what I did, following them around like a curse. Your post was good though, so please take no offense….I’m just suffering horribly is all.

    Reply
    • I’m so sorry for your pain. And I’m sorry if my post has stirred up feelings that might have been settling down. There is no greater pain than to lose a child, especially to suicide and even more so when you had no warning at all.

      I can’t help but think that when someone suicides, their pain is so unbearable that their soul seeks relief in leaving this world. A dear colleague of mine suicided, and he belonged to a religious sect that severely condemns suicide and refuses to bury the body in their cemeteries. I was afraid that this would be piled onto the agony that his wife was already suffering, but to my great relief their spiritual leader said at the funeral that he knew that this man had to be in such terrible agony to do this, that he wasn’t himself, and therefore he would be forgiven and buried in the family plot. For some reason that struck me as not only very kind, but very insightful. When we are in our “right minds,” all of the rational reasons for staying on the planet keep us here. It’s only when the pain drives us out of our minds that leaving prematurely starts to seem not only an option, but becomes a drive.

      I bless us all that we should be able to hang onto the people and ideals and whatever we can grab onto for a lifeline–and to reach out for help when that lifeline gets frayed. And for you, my friend, I bless you that that ancient healer, Time, should bring you some modicum of peace, some moments of happiness, even pleasure.

      Reply
  12. Thank you very much for your post. This is indeed the first time I’ve stumbled upon your blog because I typed in “I’m suicidal” into google. I have a somewhat-good-and-successful life, so I know people would not believe it if I tell them I want to die. Truth is, I think I’m bipolar even though I have never been diagnosed. And today is one of my low points. And the only reason that keeps me from ending it time and again is my mother. She loves me too much; she’s put too much in me. She’s suffered way more than I did and yet she manages to smile everyday and keeps going just for me. I can’t imagine her without me. That would be too cruel and I would never be able to forgive myself.

    Thank you for the story. I don’t know if I even believe in God, or a higher spirit anymore. But reading that my suffering would not end even if I die actually does the job of making my temptation go away. And thanks for the wish at the end. I know tomorrow when I wake up, I will wish I never opened my eyes, but I just hope you know that you helped a young soul today.

    Reply
    • Thank God, Becky, that my post helped you. I want to you do one thing for yourself: go to a psychiatrist, request psychological testing so you can get a proper diagnosis, and get on the right medication so you can feel better. You CAN feel better. I’m glad you hang on to the fact that your mother would be devastated if you were to end your life prematurely. That is the worst thing that can happen to a parent. Please read my post to see what it’s like for a mother to lose her child who seemingly was excelling in all things and happy.

      There are negative reasons and positive reasons to stay alive. One of the positive reasons I have managed to stay alive so far is that if I killed myself, I would not “see the end of my movie,” of my natural life. And I would never help another person, except by being a sad example. So I hang onto these things and live one more minute, one more minute, when it gets so bad that “one day at a time” is too long to imagine.

      Please keep in touch, and please reach out for help: go to a psychiatrist, request psychological testing, and get on the right medication. And don’t stop taking it after you start feeling better.

      Hang in there, Becky. It’s worth it. We only get one time around, in this life anyway, and as I mentioned, dying might not solve the problem of the pain we endure.

      Love to you,
      Laura

      Reply
      • Thank you. You are right, just by living, you’re helping others (including me). And I can’t just leave because that pain will transfer to my loved ones and multiply by thousands. I hope to read more personal stories like this (although I notice this is not a focus of your blog, so perhaps you can suggest a couple) because it really helps to know I’m not alone in this.

        Reply
        • I’m rushing to get ready for a holiday right now, so I can’t search for what I think might be helpful for you: a forum on suicide prevention or for survivors. You can search WordPress too. I think a good place for you to start would be to write your own story as a guest post here on Bipolar For Life. Would you do that? I would help not only you and me but my 850+ subscribers plus all the people it gets shared with, tweeted to, etc etc etc. You can be as anonymous as feels comfortable to you. Just let me know. I’ll be off the air from about four this afternoon (Israel time) to about 7 tomorrow evening. Think about it.

          Reply

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