I’ve always found it annoying when people say a suicide attempt is
"a cry for help." And the best one — "She’s just looking for
attention." I ran into that quite a bit in high school.
While a suicidal person may not realize it (I certainly didn’t), a suicide attempt is a cry for help. It’s an action that says "I’ve come to my breaking point. I’ve run out of options
and I don’t know what else to do. My problems are too much for me to
handle and the only way out of them is to die." Suicide is the action
which stem from thoughts that likely were never verbalized.
The majority of people who commit or attempt suicide aren’t just
seeking to die "just because."
…[T]wo doctors who are among the most often-cited experts on suicide…readily acknowledged the high degree of impulsivity associated with [jumping], but also considered that impulsivity as simply another symptom of mental illness. “Of all the hundreds of jumping suicides I’ve looked at,” one told me, “I’ve yet to come across a case where a mentally healthy person was walking across a bridge one day and just went over the side. It just doesn’t happen. There’s almost always the presence of mental illness somewhere.”
They feel as though they truly have "run
out of options" and ending their life is the least favorite backup
plan. The common thread that runs through all suicides is hopelessness.
So to wrap this series up, is it possible to prevent someone from committing or attempting suicide?
Yes and no.
When someone shows the classic signs of suicidal behavior, a suicide attempt can be thwarted if immediate action is taken. This may not always prevent suicide, but assistance from a supportive person can help decrease the chances of attempted or completed suicide. Will building suicide barriers on popular "suicide" bridges like the Golden Gate Bridge keep people from attempting to jump off a bridge? Statistics show the potential of a significant decrease. However, the sad fact is it’s nearly impossible to prevent a suicide if a person is truly determined to die.
I’m not sure who this post might reach. I don’t know if it’ll be helpful to anyone or if it’s been effective in educating anyone. From a personal standpoint, I’ve learned a lot of things about myself and my thinking behind my suicidal thoughts and behaviors. On that end, I suppose, these posts have been worthwhile.
Hat tip: A sincere and heartfelt thanks to Gianna at Beyond Meds who tipped me off to the NY Times article that prompted this series.