Have you ever thought about killing yourself? I did once, briefly. I considered a permanent solution for what turned out to be a temporary problem.
Lots of people think about suiciding at some point. A survey showed that 4 per cent of adults thought about suicide in the prior 12 months. Australia averages about eight suicides a day, almost every one with friends and family left behind. Suicide does not so much end suffering as distribute it.
Years ago, I worked in a mental hospital. One day, I heard a nurse had tried to kill herself. She ended up with brain damage. I felt guilty because the day before I had hurried by her saying only hello.
I know individuals who are more or less suicidal. I find it hard to feel settled when someone I know may call the Grim Reaper. The suspense, the drama - it is better in fiction than in reality.
Some time ago, I interviewed three individuals who made serious suicide attempts when they were teens. All ended up hospitalised. From their attempts, these individuals learned much about life.They learned the teen years can be tough. They learned situations and individuals change over time, so what looks hopeless may not look that way later.
They added it is important to seek help when feeling suicidal and that having others listen, without judging, is helpful. They said making it through difficult times can help strengthen a person, and their experiences might help them aid others someday.
I have been involved recently in training volunteers for a new Lifeline face-to-face counselling program in Armidale.
I gave them a copy of the Reasons for Living Inventory they can use if they have a client with suicidal thoughts. Among the reasons for living: I still have many things left to do; I am curious about what will happen in the future; I have a responsibility to my family; I have the courage to face life.
Marsha Linehan created the Reasons for Living Inventory. Her interest grew from her own teen suicidal attempts. After surviving that difficult period, she became a psychologist famous for developing a treatment for borderline personality disorder: dialectical behaviour therapy.
September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. There will be prevention-related events in many Australian communities. The theme of the day will be: “Take a minute, change a life.” Maybe you and I will take that minute and help someone through a difficult time.