Are Suicidal Thoughts Normal??
Most people in the Western world know about depression, and most also know that when people are very depressed they sometimes hurt themselves or even go fo far as killing themselves. But for the most part, that’s all the information that’s readily available. And that kind of paints a dreary picture, doesn’t it? It gives the impression that depression is a really scary thing and that if you’re having thoughts about taking your own life then you must be SUPER messed up. But actually, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Suicidal thoughts are a very common and normal response to extreme stress
When we feel overwhelmed by a situation, we are unable to access the calm and rational part of our mind. When this happens in an extreme way (especially if it’s occurring repeatedly) then our mind begins to search for ways out of this feeling, because it seems UNBEARABLE. And when no other options occur to us in the moment (because of past traumatic events, current stressors, and/or a biological predisposition to certain thought patterns) our mind comes up with the only way out left: Ending our life.
Now that may seem rather extreme…and it is! However, it’s not saying that we necessarily want to end our lives in a global sense (although sometimes people do feel that way when they are trapped in this mental pattern for long periods of time. But usually we’re just saying that whatever situation we are currently facing seems like TOO MUCH for us to cope with. Which really means: This FEELING that we are experiencing seems like too much for us to cope with.
Because at the heart of it, suicidal thoughts are a symptom of not wanting to feel our feelings.
And this is why they are SO normal in our culture. We live in a world where we are exceedingly and increasingly cut off from our emotional world. We are constantly distracting ourselves with technology, social media, working, socialising, eating, drinking…ANYTHING to prevent us from having to feel what we’re really feeling.
Why do we do this? Well it’s simple, because a lot of our feelings are UNCOMFORTABLE. The purpose of feelings is to help us understand what is working and not working for us in our lives. They are showing us where our edges are, where we haven’t resolved something, where we want go or where we don’t want to go.
And the problem arises because we think being uncomfortable is a bad thing
As soon as we feel this initial sensation of discomfort, we high-tail it in the opposite direction as fast as we can by any means possible, even if that means is destructive to us.
So, how can we change this pattern? Easy! Start feeling!! With support of course. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, the most important thing is to link up with a professional (in person or on a helpline) who can ensure your safety. And then all you need is guidance about learning how to feel - what your feelings mean, where they came from, and what they are trying to tell you.
Because our feelings will always come from somewhere
When we’re feeling that overwhelmed it can seem like we we must be going CRAZY. I know it does for me anytime I have suicidal thoughts! But if we can slow down and notice what our emotions are, we can actually use these experiences to become more connected to ourselves and our world.
As scary as they are, these experiences don’t actually have to be a “bad” thing…
Want to hear more? Check out the inspiring story of 18-year-old Taylor (pictured below) about learning to cope with suicidal thoughts.