Yes you read that right. Yes I understand that makes no sense. Stick with me a second and let me give you my side of the story, then tell me what you think.
Often times when suicide is discussed members of the situation try to understand the why’s or what ifs of the situation. An extremely natural response, almost a subconscious trigger for most. It’s normal to hear or to say to ourselves, “I can’t understand why they would ever do that, they had such a good life”, “If I were in that situation I would just get out of it”, “I wish I was there, maybe I could have done something”.
There is a couple reasons why this is such a problem but first I will deal with the most obvious and universal reasons. You can look under every mattress, stack of papers, or list of emails, you will never understand why a person would take their life. Even if you’ve experienced the thought yourself, it is different for everyone. Putting yourself in their position and trying to understand is like starting a mile back for a 100 yard sprint because you think it will allow you to reach top speed sooner.
Second never put yourself in the position of ” what if I were there”, you cannot, even if you were there would you normally track that person 24/7? It is often a sad way to look at it, but for many people once the decision has been made to take their life at some point they will succeed. Watch for signs early to divert any need for a decision; these are the times when we have the chance to make the greatest difference for those around us.
Finally the most important I that is lacking in suicide belongs to the person that took their life. Often times we assume that the letter “I” fills the mind of someone who took their life. We imagine quotes like ” I am a failure”, “I hate my life”, “I do not want to live anymore” The brain, our internal critic is much more likely to look at others as a reason. When someone loses their job rather than thinking “I am such a failure” it is “What are they going to think”, “We are going to have to move to a smaller house”. Our brain all to often compares us to others or fears what others will think. We focus all to often on the words “success and failure”. To often these words are the final thoughts of our loved ones.
A passage from 12 Rules For Life by Jordan B. Peterson discusses this all to well. It basically describes how our internal critic ” selects a single, arbitrary domain of comparison. Then it acts as if that domain is the only one that that is relevant. Then it contrasts you unfavorably with someone truly stellar, within that domain.” He goes on to discuss that the idea of success or failure is all to black and white in our complex world. Although someone may be more successful than you at your job, or in the gym, we take away whats truly great about life. The uniqueness of each individual, what we lack in one place we can make up ten-fold else where.
I ask each and everyone of you to go out of your way sometime, write down what you believe you’re good at and what you fall short at, take a good hard look at it, analyze it if you want. Then I want you to burn that fucking page and realize that list isn’t your life, but it is so much more. We all to often forget about the changes we have made in others lives because we cannot see their gratitude inside. Stop comparing yourself to someone else but rather compare yourself to who you were yesterday.
Signing off for now,