Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More
On April 14, 2007 I posted an article about the results of a Harvard study that showed the direct connection between gun ownership and the likelihood of committing suicide. There are many comments about that posting. The posting and commentaries can be found by clicking on this link:
What has impressed me about many of the recent commentaries is the pain and grief that people feel in reaction to the loss of friends or family to suicide. While that reaction is understandable and I have a great deal of sympathy for the people who suffered these losses, a question has lingered in my mind.
The lingering question I am referring to when reading the comments about the loss of loved ones to suicide is "where is their anger?"
It seems to me, as a mental health worker and a family man, that suicide is an extremely selfish and hostile act that is aimed at hurting others more than the self. In fact, I have know of cases of suicide where the act was committed in such a way that the body would be found by the entire family, including children. Surely, those who completed these suicides were aware of what they were doing and the harmful effects that the discovery of their body would have on everyone concerned.
Please do not misunderstand. I am not suggesting that depressed and hopeless people should find more thoughtful ways of ending their lives. That is ridiculous. What I am saying is that committing suicide is an extremely self centered act, regardless of how it is arranged, that is guaranteed to leave friends and relatives shocked and dismayed. It is also hopeless because it is completely final. There is no way to address issues and fix problems once someone has killed themselves.
There is no question that those who attempt suicide as well as those who complete it are filled with black depression, despair, hopelessness and great emotional pain. But, as the old saying goes, "where there is life, there is hope." This is something I firmly believe. Over the years of my work I have seen people emerge from the darkest depressions and the darkest points in their lives into full functioning and happy people. There is one thing that is always true about depression: if you wait, you will feel better because it often does pass. Better yet, if you reach out for help, it will be provided. Today more than ever, there is real help for those who suffer the worst of depressions.
For the loved ones who lose a person to suicide, I want to remind you that, along with feeling loss and grief, it is perfectly O.K. to have and express feelings of anger as well.
To those who may be thinking about suicide, please go for help and do not keep your feelings to yourself.
If you know someone who is contemplating suicide, speak to them, bring them to the emergency room, call 911, do anything and everything to prevent it from happening. For everyone, there is the suicide hot line that can be called, as well.
Your comments are welcome.
Allan N. Schwartz, PhD