Suicide: Does a Person Have the Right to Take His Own Life?

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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

Minimization -the "flip side" of over generalization; assuming that a good trait or event is unimportant or "a fluke" (e.g., I did well on that presentation, but it’s only because no one was paying attention to me).

3. Selective Attention -focusing only on negative information or information that confirms other negative or unhelpful thoughts (e.g., thinking "I can’t do anything right" and then reviewing your week for only those things that you messed up on, rather than also considering the things you did well).


4. Hopeless and Helpless-one particular way of thinking raises a serious red flag with regards to suicidal behavior. People may become (or are currently) suicidal if they feel hopeless- or that things will never get better.

You can find a longer discussion and more complete list of information at an excellent set of articles about suicide  written by Natalie Staats, PhD, and Mark Dombeck, PhD beginning at this URL:

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Fantasy in Suicidal Thinking:

There is also a lot of fantasizing among many of those who seriously contemplate suicide. Among those are:

1. "They will be sorry for what they did to me. I’ll show them."

2. In a similar vane, there are those who picture their funeral with loved ones weeping for the loss. This fantasy along with #1, carries a lot of vengeful thinking and feeling.

3. There are those who have "reunion fantasies" about loved ones who have died. In this type of thinking is reflected the wish to be with the lost loved one and living together for eternity.

4. Wishful thinking includes thoughts of peace as though death will bring the warm comfort of the Garden of Eden or some special place in heaven far away from the "Sturm and Drang of life.

Suicide, A Vicious and Angry Act:

When we think of someone who is suicidal most of us imagine a person who is drowning in grief. While this anguish may be an accurate portrayal of the suicidal individual, it does not give the complete picture.

1. I have known of many instances where suicides were committed in ways designed to punish love-ones.  In these examples, the suicide is done in such a public way that there is no way to spare the family, including children. In fact, some suicides attempt to take children with them.

2. Then, too, there are those horrible examples where a suicide ends up including harming and killing completely innocent and uninvolved bystanders. There is never a guarantee where a gun shot will end up.

3. There are also those times when a suicide-murder pact is made between two people. However, this sometimes really means that a murder is committed and the murderer commits suicide.

Some of those who have left comments seem angry in their stated intention to kill themselves. They seem to resolve that all is hopeless and that there is noting more to be said.

The Most Terrible Irony:

Among those individuals lucky enough to fail in their suicide attempts are those who suddenly realized that they wanted to live. Some of those are lucky because they managed to survive, sometimes due to nothing but pure luck.

How many people who succeeded in their suicides came to that sudden understanding but for whom it was too late?

Reach Out for Help:

If you are one of those in danger of suicide please reach out for help. There are several options available if you feel unsafe:

1. Call the suicide hot line.

2. Go to the local hospital emergency room and tell them firmly that you are planning to kill yourself and you feel unsafe.

3. If the danger is very immediate, call 911 and let them know that you are about to kill yourself. They will come quickly. Do not be afraid. I have seen many responses to 911 calls for suicide and both the health officials and the police, who always accompany them, are extremely kind and helpful.

After the storm is over, go into psychotherapy and learn how to cope with life. Please understand: No one here is implying that human tragedy is unreal. People do suffer terrible losses through death of loved ones, ill health, divorce, job loss and many other factors. But, it’s a matter of learning how to move on from there. For those with depression resulting from Bipolar or other types of disorders, help is also available and, with therapy and medicine, a happy and well adjusted life can and should be lived.

Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

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