Why don’t we talk about suicide?

First, it’s painful. It hurts to think about because it makes us feel about it, too.

Second, we don’t know how to talk about something so painful that we don’t know how to heal. We don’t know how to make it better, and that makes it overwhelming to hold in conscious awareness with open eyes, minds, and hearts.

We have lots of kinds of pills and procedures to deal with some things that hurt us. But there isn’t a pill that we can believe it’s safe to rely on to fix this.

There isn’t a cut-and-dry medical solution to what hurts a person so deeply and intensely that he or she doesn’t want to feel any longer.

Our psychological and psychiatric models will address only parts of the issue. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t important, but that something else that is critical to understanding human pain, despair, trauma, and depressiveness needs to be brought in and added to the way we approach suicide.

I was inspired to write a post after hearing a talking head on a news analysis show passionately state that 20 US veterans take their own lives every week. THAT’S how bad it is, he was implying, but then he realized he misspoke and corrected himself: it’s really 20 per day.

Just now I looked up that statistic. It’s from a study released in 2016 that analyzed 55 million veterans’ records from 1974 to 2014. Then I looked at the American Society for the Prevention of Suicide’s stats page, and the numbers for the general population are larger.

Given that it’s such an issue, why aren’t we getting better at talking about it?

This site is organized around the truth that we are not yet practiced in dealing with the worst kinds of pain, anger, sorrow, and trauma that humans can experience. Large pockets of people still believe that there are certain life events that a person can never heal from. Many people believe that there’s something wrong with them because they feel what they feel. Even if they reach out for help in some form, they may not ever be told that all things can be healed.

And this is because, as a culture, we do not believe it.

In my mind, we must–each and every one of us–change our minds about why pain occurs.

And about why it sometimes stays, lingers way too long, why it can dog us and follow us around and rob us of sleep and more. In short, we have to stop seeing the existence of pain as a marker that something is wrong with us, that we’re doing this human life thing wrong, or that we’re being punished or deserve punishment.

Given the model of soul and how it sees its human lives I’ve laid out elsewhere on this site, I invite you to consider that pain is part of human living. It’s part of the path that humans explore so that the soul learns all it can about being human over the course of many, many lifetimes.

When a person feels pain, the soul considers it being pushed into pain so that he or she–the human self–is challenged to learn to heal it. As this site explains, the true nature of a soul is loving, but when it is born as a human, the human does not often retain that memory. As life experience adds up, so does pain and its residues. In time, we as humans will tend to define ourselves by the pains we’ve experienced and still carry–if, that is, we don’t learn to deal with it and heal.

Suicide can be thought of a natural outgrowth of our fears about dealing with the worst pain we experience along. And if we believe that the existence of pain and trauma in our lives means that we must have done something wrong and deserve them, then we may feel boxed in. If that happens, we’re going to try to figure out a way to escape having to feel that thing that is so awful, but that we feel deserve, but that we can’t deal with.

Each of us has the opportunity to become willing to hold space for our own difficult emotions. If you’re curious about how to do this, download the free 13-minute grounding meditation I offer anyone willing to try it. It’s a great place to begin cultivating willingness to be in the physical body, which is the required starting place for learning more about dealing with emotions, including–and especially–the painful ones.

Beyond that, check out the Resources Page for more tools and ideas, and keep in mind that I do one-on-one work with people to help them learn to deal with and heal pain, even the worst kinds.

We as a collective will evolve in the direction of more strength and compassion in the face of our pain–we are dong it right now as we learn to hold space to recognize just how widespread suicide is in our world. But we need to be willing to see pain and its parallels for what they are: Natural elements of the path of every single human to learn how to be human, and never as punishments or retribution for being a bad person.

1 thought on “Why don’t we talk about suicide?”

  1. Jasmin Phillips

    A great article, Tom.
    If only we all could have been taught as children to face the pain, as opposed to running from it, or attempting to become distracted from it.
    If only we as kids could have instead learned to FEEL it in our body, own it, process it, let it go, or use it as a means to own that part of our shadow that beckons compassion and acceptance of self in all its forms.
    If only.
    My Dad unexpectedly hanged himself from a tree last November after texting me a few hours earlier saying how much he loved me. I didn’t have any reason to interpret that as his last text to me.
    If only.

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