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(Links to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention)
Suicide is a disturbing topic to talk about. But we need to talk about it. We have to somehow consciously block that immediate “cringe response” when the “s” word comes up. It’s got to move to the front burner of discussion around mental health. The reality, however, is that it’s hard to do this.
Say the word “suicide” in your mind. What is your first emotional response when you say it? Fear? Disturbance? Does it momentarily upset you? In a relatively healthy mindset, the thought of killing yourself is an unthinkable visual. And an immediate, conscious response is to dig a hole, bury it and hope it never enters your mind again.
But for someone who is sick, mentally, what emotional responses are triggered when the thought of suicide enters their mind? The short answer: nothing. At least, this was my experience when haunted by suicidal thinking. For those who have never experienced a mental illness like depression it is difficult to find the words to describe the emotional numbness that a victim of this disorder can experience.
My best attempt is that you are drowning in what could be perceived is a sea of hopelessness. With clouded perception, you question your significance in life as you fail to find a reason to keep swimming. In this contaminated mindset, your cognitive ability to distinguish between rational and irrational thinking fades, leading to impaired judgement when contemplating ways to make the hurting stop. And in this panicked state, void of any cognitive defense, this thing called ‘suicide’ presents itself – not as a threat or disturbance, but rather, disguised as an opportunity – a way out.
Desperate, the victim may tragically perceive this as an only source of hope in his condition. This entity – suicide – draws the victim in, deceptively comforting him while attempting to oppress any lingering trace of consequential thinking he might have.
In this cognitive-oppressed state, suicidal thinking can then prevail without triggering a defensive emotional disturbance in the victim. It is in this state where the contemplation of suicide becomes as inconsequential as choosing an appetizer at a restaurant – like having to decide between garden salad or caesar.
This is truly a disturbing and tragic mental state. If you can relate to this, or have been entertaining suicidal thinking, please click HELP ME! above to get support.