Help me

I am glad you are reading this, because if you are, it means that at least some part of you believes there is a chance you can be helped. I hope you can spare a couple more minutes to read to the end of this page. If you can't, please at least read Surviving today before you go back to looking at ways to kill yourself.

I know what it is like to feel there is no hope left. To feel like there is nothing worth living for. To not be able to face the rest of your life. I know because I felt it myself, and I am truly sorry you are in that place. It probably means you are past caring about anybody or anything, and don't believe it's possible to change how you feel right now.

Think for a minute. Have you always felt like you do right now? The chances are, there were times in your life when you did not. Which means something in your life changed to get you where you are now. But that also means that something can change to get you away from where you are now. Seriously - life is changing all the time - yours included. Surely there were other times you felt really low and something happened to make you feel brighter?

People think about committing suicide as a solution to a problem they see no solution to. But here's the thing - even if you don't think there is a solution to your problems right now, that does not mean it does not exist. It just means that you can't see it right now.

What does it take to feel OK?

Leaving aside for now those that are terminally ill, it is probably fair to say that most people who are considering killing themselves due to emotional problems, or intolerable life circumstances, have not always felt that way. People are not born suicidal.

It is probably also fair to say, that for these people, given a choice between feeling great about themselves and life generally, or dying, they would probably choose the former. We all want to feel great and happy. Death only becomes attractive once we lose hope that we can ever feel OK again.

For people that have been struggling with emotional problems for years, perhaps sought and had all types of treatments – from therapy to medications – it is easy to see how they could lose hope that anything will make a difference. I felt that way too. Not only when I was suicidal, but many times since.

Many people on this site have issues that have origins years or decades ago. These are tough sons of bitches to shift, and even if they are shifting, those shifts can be so small it is hard to notice them. So what can help?

I am re-writing this page 4½ years after the site was started. I write it with the benefit of email and feedback from the millions that have visited the website. I believe there are common themes of what people need to live (over and above physical health, a subsistence wage, food, heat, light etc.):

  1. Emotional connection. The suicidal often feel alone. They may have a partner, a family, friends, but they still feel alone. Because having people around us does not mean we are connected to them. So what is this elusive connection? Being seen for how we truly are – all our bad stuff, and being accepted and loved despite it all. Our desire to feel love is strong, yet can be quite unconscious.

    Of course, most of us are far too ashamed of how we feel to let anyone else see it, me included. And in that shame we hide who we really are, or parts of us anyway. Even if we are with people, they don’t see the “real” us – we see that part as unlovable. So who we really are never connects with anyone else, and thus we are isolated – desperately needing connection, too ashamed to make connection.
     
  2. Physical connection. This could be sex (as part of our genetic programming to reproduce, or simply for pleasure), or be something much simpler. The need to be held, touched, hugged, stroked. Studies on monkeys showed massive detrimental effects on those that had no touch from others, and humans are no different – we need touch.
     
  3. Support. In today’s world people have become more insular. It is easier to conduct a life from home in front of a PC. People don’t rely on each other anymore – we are fiercely independent. People can’t fall back on a community, a support structure. This can be especially true for those who are not part of a close family. That may be because their family are no longer living or spread over a wide geographical area, or because they simply aren’t close to their parents or siblings.

    We need this support desperately. So we have people to fall back on when times are tough. People that can hold us in that space. People we can be ourselves with. People we can really talk to. And people we can have a laugh with, do things with, discuss things with. People that can help us. Sometimes all the therapy and medications in the world just won’t work if people can’t feel part of a group. What constitutes a group is not set in stone – does not need to be a big group, but there is something about multiple people interacting that can be much stronger than just being with people one-on-one.
       
  4. Purpose. Everyone needs a reason to get out of bed in the morning. It might be to look after a family, to earn money for that family, to help friends, to overcome a challenge, to help those in need. There are lots of reasons, but we all need one. Theoretically, I have lots of reasons, but in my darkest moments there are only two I can fall back on. A promise I made to my sister not to kill myself (at least whilst she is still alive!), and one I made to myself to support my best friend during his poor health. Those can make me soldier on even when I don’t really want to.    

If a magic wand could be waved and you had these four things right now, the chances of you srill feeling suicidal would be quite small. Even if you had a major physical or situational issue in your life.

So is it possible to get these four things? Well, they aren’t the most impossible things in life. They are available to pretty much anyone. The question is, whether you believe it enough to make some effort on getting them. Maybe committing suicide seems easy by comparison. But of course, if what we really want is to feel OK, happy, loving and loved, then death is not an option to achieve those.

What next?

So I write this on new year's eve 2009. In the next month, and every month thereafter, over 16 million people will do a Google search on the word suicide. Yes, 16 million, so trust me, you are not alone feeling like you do. In the next 12 months the World Health Organisation (see Suicide statistics) estimates well over 20 million people will actually try and commit suicide. Over 1 million will succeed. A good chunk of the others will end up in hospital, in pain. Possibly with permanent health issues. Like brain damage.

It would be nice if big emotional problems had simple fixes, but that is rarely the case. As with all big problems though, the road to overcoming them starts with small steps. On this site, that step is to read Surviving today, so please do.