Demise of Self

On the subject of suicide, it must first be acknowledged that the thought/attempt of demise by one’s own hand can be terrifying. It can be especially traumatic to feel that ending your life is the only way to get through an intense state of experiencing the world, its pain, and your own.

When one is caught in an exacerbated fear state, traumatized frameworks of association can take over and our minds generate thoughts of our own demise that are laden with image and old scripts of helpless loathing. 
The emotional pain of experiencing such a state can be almost unbearable. Suicidality, often triggered by trauma, can be very traumatic in and of itself. 

“I’ve watched myself die a thousand deaths. I’ve seen my mother get the phone call. My funeral made me angry. They didn’t realize that I was crying because I was mourning myself. I had lost. I was lost. I was, in those moments, already dead.”

The involuntary wishing of death upon oneself is inherently violent.  It is for this reason that suicidality must be met with compassion, gentleness, and recognition that the person is likely in great pain. 

Do not think that the person is “faking it.” 

If you suspect that the person is “just trying to get attention,” it may be helpful to consider compassionate attention as a basic human need, rather than investing the cynical view of attention-seeking as selfish manipulation.

 There is strength in that struggle and by orienting yourself to it, you will be a stronger support for the person.

Suicidality is a strong component of many people’s experience of extreme states and dysorder. The urge to die can come from many sources, though often it can seem to arise independent of the circumstances.  

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I love my life. Why do I want to die?”

Traumatized frameworks, though often built young, can arise at any time. 
However, if one has sustained trauma frequently over the course of their lives, it is far more likely that they will be vulnerable to additional trauma, including the trauma of wishing you were dead.

“I willed myself to stop breathing and it almost worked.”

Demise of Self is possibly one of the most traumatizing events within the range of human experience.  The world is devoid of anything other than pain. The physical body is listless and aching or writhing in the agony of itself and the world. The crush of destructive ideas nullifies itself into a simple grey statement.

“I can’t do this.”

The belief is tremendous and within it is enormous power.

There are some who say that our belief creates a pattern, a trademark way of interacting with the world and our ideas about it.

When we feel believably alive, the world responds and we notice and respond back. We see beauty where there might not have otherwise been beauty and we see value and possibility where before there may have been void.

Alternately, when we are lackluster, when we are void ourselves, the world fails to engage. We are adrift. Dysconnected. Nothing means anything and beauty appears as shallow line and flat shadow. People hassle us and coo at us and tell us to smile as they leer. Everything is terrible and it only seems to get worse.

What are the driving forces here? What gives life and takes it away?

These musings are based on an understanding of human consciousness as constructed signal and association, as schema and corresponding network. We develop our own distinct experience of reality based on several variables, all encompassing nature and nurture.

We learn the world and we learn how we feel about it and how it feels about us. Within a constant state of ebb and flow and impression and effect, we develop ourselves and, often, we become a walking civil war.                                                             

What if what we believe does not align with what we are told? What we are told becomes confusing. We don’t know what to say to ourselves anymore. Why do we have to do so many things we don’t want to do? Why are people so cruel? Why am I so powerless? We all cause so much pain. I cause so much pain.

It is documented that many people who survive abuse sometimes believe that, somehow, they deserved it. This is a false belief, otherwise known as a delusion.

(I have in the past, made the claim that there is no such thing as delusion, that if you believe in something, it is real. I don’t know if that is true or not.)

If experience leads to death’s door, it is likely that the body and mind recall the hall that precedes the door and, in the event of trauma, we are met sometimes with familiar fear nipping at our heels, pushed to turn that corner and face that door, knowing that behind it is the end of all knowing as we know it and we just can’t stand to know anymore and we know nothing of which way to turn. 

It is possible that some forms of suicidality are motivated by a wish to outsmart a looming death by embracing it? When life becomes a constant threat, how does one keep living?

There is ample evidence that people do keep living and that some are even quite triumphant in their cheating of death. Scattered throughout poetry and song is the old adage: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Often, those who have dodged death are quite vigilant in living their life well. 

This is not always the case for some who survive suicide.  Many are relegated to psychiatric models of care that actually diminish hope and support demise of self by reinforcing self-loathing frameworks. However, some models of support may be helpful, such as recovery education in best practice.

I am not yet skilled in the adequate language to communicate the truth about wanting to die. Many people want to die, almost everyone – at some point or another – wants to die. Is it possible that wanting to die is a natural part of the range of human experience?  Do the Japanese have a word for the state of wanting-to-die? What does suicide mean in China, where workers kill themselves so that they do not have to make anymore electronics?

Death-in-Living is in all our stories and yet we cannot discuss suicide without causing alarm, so taboo is the subject. We must grapple with our mortality alone…until we cannot, and then we must tell someone and that person might be you and that person might be me and we’ll have to decide how to handle it.

Do you think that sometimes friends take friends to the hospital just so that they do not have to sit with the person anymore, because they themselves can’t stand to see it?

One thing that has always helped me to negotiate demise of self and the determination to live triumphantly is this thought:

“I must face this and I must get through this. I refuse to hurt people by dying young on purpose. I am not the first person who has ever faced death. People have held onto trees in floods to stay alive. What if someone believes in me?* I am not alone.”

The thought that I am not alone, that millions of people have sat in the dark with themselves at one point or another, is hugely comforting. They got through it and it made them who they are, just as I got through it and I get through it and all of it makes me who I am. 

A woman,
alone on her porch in mid-May.
to save a life.

Mad Love to the friends we all lost and to those that are with us still, never lost after all.

*Sometimes, we have to be the people that believe.

One thought on “Demise of Self

  1. Pingback: Reflections on A Stranger’s Suicide At the Airport Hotel | PROOF OF GOD! …and other tragedies.

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