why the stigma in preventing suicide?

People always scramble when there is lightening but not for suicide prevention. Lightening takes less lives each year than suicide does. I think people don’t scramble because there still is this stigma that it won’t happen. People don’t want to acknowledge that suicide exists and if it doesn’t exist, why prevent it? The stigma is that you run into the old “every man has a choice”. People believe that suicidal people are just going to do it anyway so why bother preventing the inevitable. It happens to those that see it in the ER. Most people cannot fathom why someone would want to take their own life. They think life is so grand that nobody would want to take it. They believe in this bubble that if it doesn’t happen to me, it doesn’t happen at all. I have a cousin who thinks this way. She thinks that if she doesn’t pay attention to the bad stuff, maybe it won’t happen as often. She just wants to be happy all the time. There is nothing wrong with that but not acknowledging serious mental illness is a problem. They have to believe that there is always good things in their world for their sanity. Thomas Joiner, a psychologist that deals with suicidality believes that most suicide prevention would cost less if people actually believed it exists. In his book why people die by suicide, he proposes the risk of a bicyclist getting hit by a car over the prevention barrier of the SF bridge. More people die by suicide (30 per year) than someone dying by getting hit while riding a bicycle.

I think I understand why people are afraid. They still have it in their mind that suicide should not be talked about. If it is talked about then it is real. And if it is real, then something should be done to prevent it.  Unfortunately, not enough people think that suicide is real despite it climbing and it being in the top 10th percentile in the U.S.

3 thoughts on “why the stigma in preventing suicide?

  1. I don’t believe there is a stigma about preventing suicide. There is a stigma about the whole subject! It’s supposedly against the Law of God & Man to ‘take a life’ period~ANY life. the mere mention of the subject sends folks around the corner & they begin talking in terms of legalities & religion. ‘They’ find the subject so heinous as to be totally incomprehensible therefore it’s swept under the rug, ignored, dismissed etc. The same people who find the subject so distasteful will go on & on & on about a ‘murder’ talked about by MSM~but we can’t talk about SELF murder! There is quite a double standard in play.

    The medical profession is supposed to save lives, not help end them. Yet, more people die of medical MISTAKES than are ended by one’s own hand. We CAN talk of medical MISTAKES, but not of the purposeful taking on one’s OWN life. The medical profession has no mind set to deal with suicide, neither does the general population because the subject gets muddied by religious beliefs & legalities. The subject of the dead person’s torment is NEVER discussed!

    What IS discussed is God says it’s wrong to take a life; the CHURCH officials say a person who dies by suicide can’t be buried in consecrated ground, the legal eagles say insurance politics won’t pay off; the general public lays ‘blame’ at the feet of the family & friends for ‘not seeing the signs & preventing it’.

    What ISN’T discussed is the physical/emotional pain of the individual! We can’t talk about THAT! We can’t talk about or explain how we can’t get adequate medical care for PAIN! Folks think one just goes to the MD & the script is written/filled, the patient takes the meds & all is WELL! ALL is NOT WELL! MD’s/pharmacists are so afraid of having their licenses jerked by the feds meds aren’t prescribed in adequate amounts to CONTROL pain.The Feds are so consumed with drug addiction MD’s/pharm hands are legally tied. But try to explain that folks who have intractable PAIN are LESS likely to become addicted than someone who uses drugs ‘recreationally’.NOBODY believes THAT!

    Try to explain the EMOTIONAL pain caused by CHRONIC pain is totally useless~how can physical pain CAUSE emotional PAIN! Christmas Eve I had to be carried, wheelchair & 200lb me, into a house. It took 4 husky fellows who had great difficulty!! THAT CAUSED TREMENDOUS EMOTIONAL PAIN! My family’s answer was well lose weight! Oh Goody, now I get to add physical hunger pain on top of the other physical pain which ADDS to the emotional pain!” And I’m supposed to ACCEPT it!

    OK, we’ll just give you cymbalta, prozac or some other ‘emotion stabilizing drug’! then more drugs to counter act side effects~

    The subject of suicide is ‘in the closet’. We should be able to discuss it just as easily as the last box score. Talking about it doesn’t mean it won’t/will happen, it ACCEPTS the FACT that it DOES happen, that it DOES EXIST! Talking about it ACKNOWLEDGES that there are people in SEVERE DISTRESS for whatever reason. To NOT acknowledge such distress is to minimize/marginalize DISTRESS, period! To label people as ‘nutz’ is to deny that brains DO get fouled up, whether congenitally, from outside injury or injury caused by, in my case, trauma to other parts of the body. Trauma to the body DOES change brain chemistry & REPEATED physical trauma causes INCREASED brain chemistry change in some people!

    Suicide is also ‘in the closet’ because if the truth were known, the majority of folks have contemplated it at one time or another, whether seriously or not, won’t admit it & feel SHAME because of the mere thought! it goes back to the ‘Law of God & Man!

    ‘Accepting’ one’s limitations/pain is NOT an option for many folks. But to LABEL someone who attempts suicide as NUTZ, stupid, weak, unchristian,failure etc. is to DENY their personhood, their opinions/actions as valid for that individual.

    Personally, I don’t believe a loving God would EVER, FOREVER CONDEMN someone who takes her/his life. A soul in such torment has ALREADY been to hell and back a thousand times. But it’s for GOD to decide, my opinion is just that. But for the ‘public’ or the medical profession to be unable/unwilling to DISCUSS the subject is to be an ostrich with its’ head in the sand.

    Personally, I believe in the future, MORE people in intractable pain WILL commit suicide as inadequate treatment of it will diminish; fewer & fewer MDs will risk Fed intervention; those in emotional pain/emotional problems, for whatever reason, will be sent for ‘re-education’, for lack of a better word, or simply ‘done away with’.

    I believe many ‘accidental’ deaths, cleaning a gun & it went off, slid off the road & hit a tree, ‘over dosing’, alcohol, etc are in fact, suicides. Just because someone doesn’t ‘leave a note’ doesn’t rule out suicide; just because ‘he had every thing to live for’ doesn’t rule it out; just because he ‘didn’t show any signs’ doesn’t rule it out. An ‘accidental death’ is easier to explain & accept than suicide, for ‘those left’ because the public & families are ASHAMED. Take the SHAME out of the equation & all one is left with is a death.

    I BELIEVE suicide SHOULD be a subject that is talked about rationally, compassionately, without rush to judgment, without religious/legal connotations. Talking about it won’t prevent OR cause it. It simply RECOGNIZES it as a FACT.

    To ‘try’ & fail isn’t ‘FAILURE! It’s an opportunity to re assess one’s life/the value or lack there of, position, other options, possibilities. SHAME/STIGMA shouldn’t enter in to it. The SHAME/STIGMA belongs squarely on the shoulders of those who ASSIGN stigma/shame to suicide~the FAILURE to RECOGNIZE & ADMIT such PAIN exists in a person IS the stigma/shame of OTHERS, not of the person who is suffering!

    I would never ENCOURAGE/DISCOURAGE/ABET suicide. I would simply LISTEN if some one decided to talk to me about it. Sometimes it helps clarify one’s outlook/opinion/decision, other times not. But the conversation should not be muddled with platitudes/psychobabble, if possible. Don’t tell me I’ll feel differently in the morning/things will get better/call your therapist/take a pill etc~Hells bells, I feel this way THOUSAND TIMES A DAY!

    Again, the stigma/shame around suicide is ASSIGNED it by a ‘public’ unwilling to RECOGNIZE such pain EXISTS, FEAR it because they can’t understand the POSSIBILITY such pain is possible. FEAR because they don’t want to think it could/would ever happen to them! People can’t IMAGINE the sheer physical/mental EXHAUSTION that comes from PAIN!

    From reading your posts/blog~family counseling would be in order. BUT they would RESIST it with every fiber of their beings! It might FORCE them to see if not admit they’re part of the problem! My family REFUSES to see they’re part of the problem. To them, I’m the ONE WITH THE PROBLEMS! it’s as though each member of the family exists in isolation & because I can’t do XYZ they have no obligation/reason to pick up the slack!


  2. I really liked this. I read a lot of your posts and you and I sound so similar. I write and research suicide and depression, particularly the prevention and management of both. It would be interesting if we collaborated on a piece in the future!


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