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Inside A Suicidal Mind

Every year, more than over 37,000 complete suicide in America.  Another 750,000 attempt suicide in that same year. That is a total of almost 1 million Americans who believe that death is better than life and at least to fulfill that thought.

People who are Survivors of Suicide often have unanswered questions that range from Why? to What Should I/ Could I have done?  Those who hear of a suicide with no real connection may not understand it all. Matter of fact, unless you have been suicidal, have walked that very dark path, you won't understand it all.  Most people know it's most often caused by depression, a mental illness that one suffers, making you feel hopeless.

I have been suicidal and have attempted suicide.  In some cosmic way, the Universe has decided that I still needed to be here (although I often disagree with that decision).  I want to discuss you the thoughts, the feelings, the views of the suicidal mind.

The Pain

Generally, first comes the pain, most often emotional pain which can lead to physical pain.  The physical pain can be dealt with, but emotional pain, not so easy to deal with.

It's like this:  In my case, I feel like a waste of human skin, a cosmic joke.  Having been told all of my life by my mother that if she could do it all over again, she would raise puppies or flowers or something other than me. I never had a good relationship with my mom, but that's not all of the emotional pain.  Try as I might, I was never good enough to be loved like my sister was.  My mother adored my sister, as do I .  But, the pain of seeing her loved and not me, showed me that there was something inherently wrong with me and yes, I am still jealous of that.

My sister was protected by my mother, but me, she chose to give me to the state (foster care) instead of giving up her husband who was abusing me, but that's a whole other story. The pain of not being acceptable, of not being good enough still haunts me today and that is over 50 years later.

With this deep emotional pain, no matter where it comes from, with no relief in sight, you become fixated on trying to end it.  Many turn to drugs, alcohol, sex and any of the other addictions out there, which only leads to more emotional pain.  Eventually, you find that there is only one real way to escape the pain—death (this is not true, but to the depressed/suicidal mind, that is the truth).

Tunnel Vision


Next will come the tunnel vision.  Many people don't truly understand how this works, so I will explain it as I experienced it.

As the pain becomes more and more unbearable, you will start trying to do ANYTHING to get rid of it. Your vision, or your focus becomes narrower and narrower as you look for relief, until that is all you can think of.

I personally equate and explain it like this:  You're in a totally dark area, which you can't see anything to the left or right except for a few feet.  In front of you is an abyss where if you drop something, you can't hear it hit, you can't see the other side of it at all.

Off in the distance on the other side of the abyss,  you see a tiny sliver of light and you know that that is the hope, the happiness, the good life in there.  And, you know, even if you were to dig for a thousand years or try to fill the abyss, it will never happen and you lose all hope.

At this point, a person is so focused on the fact that they feel like they have no hope, the pain is so immense, that they can't see anything else at all.  This tunnel vision can be deadly, because this is when a person will most likely begin to consider and plan suicide, feeling like they have no other option.

They may sleep more or less than normal.  They may eat less or more than normal.  Both of these are symptoms of depression, but it goes so much more deeper than that.  It is more than simple depression.  At this stage, getting help, be it medication, counseling or a combination of both, is beneficial, but it doesn't necessarily stop the suicidal mind from continuing to consider, even plan this option.

While hospitalization does offer a chance to give some time for the medications to work, most hospitalizations only last 7 – 15 days, while the true effectiveness of medications can take up to 6 weeks to reach optimal levels.  Add to this problem, is the fact that each person is different and will react to each medication differently.  The side effects can be horrendous and a person may have to be tried on several different medications to find the right combination and doses.

That means if the average hospitalization for suicidal ideation/attempt is 7 – 10 days, these people maybe released well before they are truly ot suicidal or even able to develop coping skills.  That is the sad reality of the suicidal mind. Even when they get help, forced or not, it's often not enough to change how they are feeling or planning.

"Toxic" Thinking

Along with, and very similar to Tunnel Vision, is toxic thinking.  This is the circular thinking that spirals out of control, dragging the person down, increasing the feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, causing more pain.

"Toxic" thinking goes like this:  You make a mistake, say, you burned dinner.  It's innocuous, but to the person who is entering the suicidal mind, it becomes so much more.  You start thinking things like "There is just proof I can't do anything right" and "I'm so worthless, I can't even do this right" and so on.

This will all lead to more circular thinking, getting worse as each thought comes in. This will lead to thinking like "I'm so worthless, I shouldn't have even been born" or "I'm a cosmic joke" and "my family would be better off without me".

This coupled with the tunnel vision leads to somebody who searches out a way to relieve their thoughts, their feelings, their pain by any means possible, even death.

Planning/Attempting/Completing

So, by now, the suicidal mind has realized that there will never be any end to the pain (that is their thought pattern).  They will feel hopeless, helpless, worthless among everything else.  They will start to believe that their family and friends would be better off without them.

It is at this point that they will plan to die.  People around them will often say "I didn't know he/she was planning this. They seemed so relieved, so "hopeful".  The reason for this renewed "happiness" or relief is that they have finally seen the end of the pain.

They not only will seem more hopeful, but will make "plans", knowing that they probably won't be there to seem them through.  They may also start quietly giving stuff away, making final preparations, doing things that are their way of saying goodbye.

However, this is not always the case or isn't even seen until much later after they have completed or attempted.  Many people believe that a suicide, in their final moments, change their minds, but in actuality, this rarely happens.

For the suicidal mind, this is the end of all pain, all hopelessness.  It is the happiness, or at least the peace they have been searching for.  Many people say that a person that commits suicide is selfish, but truly, it's not that they are selfish, they just can no longer stand the pain of loneliness, the lack of peace.

Things That You Can Do To Help The Suicidal Mind

First of all, let me say this:  As a person who has had a suicidal mind, that taking help offered is not easy.  As a matter of fact, many, if they survive the suicide attempt, are angry at having lived because all they can think of is "Great, I still have to live with this pain.  I have to live with no peace."

They may fight you, the authorities, hospital personal and even themselves in an attempt to relieve the pain.  Don't let that stop you.   If they can get the help that is needed and are given enough time, they most often will be able to see the light again.  But, it does take time and they maybe fighting mad at you.  That's okay.  Let them.

You see, when a person commits suicide, their pain is done.  It's the ones left behind that suffer the most.  With the should have's, if only's, and what could I have's, it takes an emotional and, often, a physical toll on those who are still alive.  AND, people who are survivor's of suicide are more likely to attempt it themselves.

So, if you notice that a person is in "Tunnel Vision", they feel hopeless, or helpless.  They talk about being worthless or unloved, get them help.  You can contact the National Suicide Hotline

You can call them yourself if you believe someone is at risk. You can give them the number and even sit by while they call it.  You can call your local crisis number.  You can search for groups both in your local area and online.  There are plenty out there.  You can help them find someone to talk to.You can even take them to the ER and let the nurses know the situation and the suicidal thinking.

BUT, if they are in immediate danger, if you feel they are about to try or have tried, call your local EMS.  DO NOT WAIT, as seconds can mean the difference between being "saved" and either death, or worse, life long damage.

I know a young woman who was 17 and attempted to hang herself.  She was found before she died.  The resulting lack of oxygen to her brain from the hanging left her paralyzed, severely brain damaged, needing 24 hour care.  Locked inside her inability to talk (her vocal chords were so damaged, she could barely whisper) was a woman who was fully aware of what had happened.  She wanted to die even more.

Don't condemn the person.  That will actually do more harm than good.  Do let them know how much you do care for them, how much they are valued.  Don't use such statements as (and yes, I have heard these said to me) "It's a sin, so you will go to hell if you do this".  That is so damaging, that the person will definitely attempt suicide since they are "doomed" to hell.

The most important thing is to watch for the signs that somebody is heading towards the suicidal mind.  That includes:

  1. Changes in physical appearance:  They gain or lose weight, they don't seem to take care of basic hygiene needs like they used to, their clothes are unkempt, unchanged where they used to change them more often.
  2. Changes in eating/sleeping patterns.  Eating/sleeping less or more than normal.  Now, this would be over a few weeks, not just days.  But, if you start to notice it, keep track of it, because they could be starting the spiraling down.
  3. Loss of interest. That could be in activities they normally enjoyed, but now have no interest in, loss of interest in sex, loss of interest in family, friends.  You'll know it when you see it.
  4. Changes in thought patterns.  If they seem to be more depressed or focused on the negative, step in and find out what's going on.  They could be hitting the toxic thinking or tunnel vision stage.  
  5. Talk of death. This would be more of the "If I were dead, no one would notice or miss me" or "Everyone would be better without me".  If you hear those statements, call your local crisis center, get them in to their doctor's office, call the national hotline, but do something, because they are truly spiraling down are in the tunnel vision and toxic thinking stage.

This is not everything, but it is a start of what to look for.  I have had the suicidal mind often and, really, suicide is always on my mind.  For me, it's whether it's the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think of when I go to sleep, or whether it's just kind of hanging out in the background.  I know myself well enough to know that when I enter the tunnel vision stage, when I am getting to the point of trying, I do try to reach out to get help.

But, not everyone can do that, so you have to do that for them.  I'm lucky, in that I do know myself, and know when I am getting to the trouble point.  I have developed my own coping skills, and my own warning signs to watch for.  I don't always reach out, but I have had others do that for me and because of that, I am here today to let you know that…….

The suicidal mind is deadly.  The suicidal mind lies and deceives.  The suicidal mind is not selfish, but only looking for a way to relieve pain, physical or emotional, And, the suicidal mind really just wants peace.