by Nathan Chua
Not sure about the statistics, but it seems quite often that we hear about suicides (sadly of the successful variety) lately. Numbers aside though, it’s probably not as surprising to most of us how often it happens as, why it happens at all. Frankly, most, if not all of us have had times when it felt better if we could just end it all. All this, while we see all over us the constant search for the fountain of youth, the profuse number of ways that life can be prolonged with breakthroughs in medicine, and our inherent desire for immortality, as seen in statues and places that bear our names.
We often ascribe suicidal behavior to a need for escaping from the suffering that life inevitably presents to us. It could be an escape from reality, or a messy and difficult situation. Taking it a step further, it could be a reaction to indescribable shame or guilt, because of tragic life events like the loss of a loved one, or a much-publicized failure. In fact, such shame and guilt would normally come together with a need for the comfort zone that isolation provides. Guilt and shame drives us to isolation that results in loneliness, the type which can curtail any attempts at connecting with others, who can help prevent self-harming behavior.
If this last one is what you guessed, then you are starting to get why people make the ultimate decision of ending their lives prematurely. As counseling is a means to alleviate emotional suffering, people in the practice know how our emotions play such a crucial role in the decisions that we make. In fact, we often hear people say that we should not make emotional decisions, as these can ultimately result in unwise choices.
Why do we kill ourselves? Because the mind plays tricks on us. According to a source, the part of the brain that tells us about our emotional pain, is the same part that tells us that we are in actual physical pain. We all know that any amount of emotions cannot, and will not, do us actual and immediate physical harm. However, because the parts of the brain that are activated by emotional stress are the same parts that react to physical pain, emotional pain can feel just like a ghastly broken bone, or a knife stabbed into our body.
Hence, we say the pain is too much to bear. The only escape will be to not feel anything at all. We do this through many ways, one of which is suicide. Death is the ultimate pain-ender and stopper. The other ways are through drugs, alcohol, and even sex.
Maybe we can also learn something about us through this understanding of where the urge to quit life comes from. As we all carry in us the same anatomy, we must understand that no one is immune from wanting to end it all. You and I have gone through moments in life wanting the ultimate back door, and it is in these times, that we need each other more than ever.