Aftermath of Suicide: Messages from Two Worlds
Two days before Christmas, a woman I knew from church committed suicide. I realized on Sunday that I'm in an unusual position: I knew multiple people who died from suicide, and I have attempted it myself.
So in honor of those who've died and to console those left behind, I will try to explain both worlds: the world of the suicidal, and the world of the survivors.
[caption id="attachment_287" align="alignnone" width="170" caption="Henry Wallis's painting, "The Death of Chatterton", depicts a man who committed suicide with arsenic"][/caption]
The raw facts about raw pain
Suicide is not an uncommon cause of death. According to the World Health Organization, one million people die from suicide each year. According to Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), it is the eleventh leading cause of death.
SAVE reports that an estimated 90 percent of these deceased suffered from a mental illness or substance abuse problem. According to PubMed.gov, 13 percent of these suicides were people with personality disorders.
The suicide rate for people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) is 8 to 10 percent, according to BorderlinePersonalityDisorderToday.com.
To those wondering why
When I was first diagnosed with BPD, the diagnosis was actually "borderline personality disorder with dissociative modes of operation". In other words, "When she feels one emotion strongly enough, she doesn't know it's possible to feel any other way." That's the mind of a suicidal person.
Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. However, when people reach a certain threshold of physical pain, they lose consciousness. Emotional pain doesn't seem to have this threshold. Suicide may seem like a way to pass out and relieve the pain. Pain relief is often what the suicidal person wants.
To the suicidal
Someone once said "Every suicide is a double homicide." After losing a loved one to suicide, the survivors may feel like they died, too.
Grief is a complicated emotion. But grief after suicide is often suffered alone.
When I was in college, I became involved in an unhealthy church. It was cell-based, which means it divided into small groups to minister more effectively. We were supposed to be able to go to our cell groups for help with anything.
One member of my cell group, Matt, killed himself. At church, the pastor simply announced that Matt was dead from suicide, and gave the time and date of the memorial service. No "please don't do this" or "here's where to go for help"--a dangerous omission since one suicide can inspire others.
Sadly, it wasn't discussed in small group, either, other than one "what a shame he didn't know we loved him". We went through this grief alone.
I wondered if I could have done something different. I also blamed--and to some extent still blame--the church (which frowned on "worldly" therapy and recommended unlicensed "Biblical counselors"). This anger led to a series of events that forced me out of the church. I almost renounced my religion, which was my life. I'm still recovering from that.
There's a myth that a note will give closure. That's like giving a frostbite victim an explanation of cold-related injuries without any treatment: it may be an accurate answer, but it doesn't help the pain.
Think of those left behind? Definitely. But think of how you would feel were the roles reversed. Then click here to go to HealthyPlace.com's suicide information page, or call one of these numbers.
Oberg, B. (2011, January 3). Aftermath of Suicide: Messages from Two Worlds, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2011/01/messages-from-two-worlds-the-aftermath-of-suicide