By: Suzanne Maiden, M.A., LPC
Years before I became a therapist, I began my own therapeutic journey. My first therapist, Ed, said something so profound I never forgot. I was depressed and felt hopeless. I thought about suicide. I didn’t have a plan or anything, but it surely seemed as a possible option at the time. Although I felt deep shame about my suicidal fantasies, I knew I needed help, and confessed to him. I asked if my thoughts were normal – did everyone think about suicide at some point? Was I crazy? Ed calmly answered, “Suzanne, if someone has never thought about suicide – they are not paying attention. Life is hard!”
I sighed with relief. I was, at least in that moment, normal. Well, whatever defines normal - and that’s a whole other blog post. Ed validated my suicidal thoughts and feelings as being within the normal spectrum of human emotions. Today, as a practicing psychotherapist, the majority of my patients, at some point, express some suicidal ideation. That’s the psycho-babble clinical jargon for suicidal thoughts. According to Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung, when someone feels suicidal – they have the right idea! Yes! Jung used to tell his patients, in his thick Swiss accent, “Thank God! You understand now that something needs to die!” Jung meant that something needs to die psychologically for the patient - not physically. Suicidal feelings signal something very big within us needs addressed and resolved – not physically killed. A popular saying by therapists who assist suicidal patients is, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” According to SAVE – Suicide Awareness Voices of Education:
- Suicides take the lives of almost 30,000 Americans each year
- Over half of all suicides are completed with a firearm
- For young people, 15-24, suicide is the third leading cause of death
- The highest risk factor for suicide is depression
- 80% of people who seek treatment for depression are treated SUCESSFULLY!
If you or someone you know struggles with suicidal thoughts, please seek immediate medical attention at your local emergency room, call 911, or call: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There is HELP. There is HOPE. There is HEALING.