Before There Is No Turning Back: Encounters with Suicidal Thought


Recently in the news we have read or heard about a young, beautiful woman and a talented, engaging young man who took their own lives. I do not know what brought them to the act of suicide, nor do I need to know.

Compassion is felt for the suffering that led them to end life, and for friends and family who now must grieve their passing.

Judgments and speculation about why they committed suicide are pointless and only serve to feed our baser emotions. The stark reality is some people reach a tipping point, where the impetus to die takes over. They do not leave clues. Here, there is nothing anyone can do or could have done to prevent their action.

The Several Forms of Suicidal Despair

Not all encounters with thoughts of dying are a prelude to suicide, but they can lead there if we hide from our feelings and believe we cannot share our thoughts. Death is a part of human life and needs to be an accepted part of our conversation.

Suicidal Waves

Many of us have thoughts or feelings of wanting to die. Sometimes they seem to pass through us as a wave. The idea hits and floods us, and then passes on. It can seem as if the thought and feeling do not even belong to us, but arrived because we were somehow susceptible to it at that moment.

Suicidal Steam

At other times, we may deliberately entertain thoughts of suicide. They act like a release valve, letting out the steam of despair and making our pain a bit more tolerable. The thought of dying lets us know that there is a way out of our pain, and this can help us get through a rough night or weather a seemingly unbearable situation.

Suicidal Guest

Life becomes dicier when the thought of wanting to die takes up residence in our being. It is as if an aspect of our self wants to die and keeps harping on the subject, yet other aspects of the self still have a voice and are very reluctant to go along.

This is an extremely painful way to live, though it is sometimes marked by periods of happiness or at least thoughts that things can change for the better. People can live in this frequently tortured state for months or years at a time. They may talk about it or conceal it.

Suicidal Leader

When the urge to die, to end the pain, becomes more intense, people may make a plan to end their life. They often leave clues such as giving away their treasured belongings, getting their business affairs in order, becoming more isolated, or leaving people appreciative messages that feel like goodbyes.

Though they are making a plan to take their life, some aspects of their self may not have jumped on board. Individuals might make pseudo-attempts to die, which can accidentally become the real thing. Or, in a moment of impulse, they will put their plan into action and make a serious, definite attempt at ending their life.

A Step Too Far

For some individuals there is the tipping point, already mentioned as a moment when the will to take their own life overshadows or consumes their desire to live. They have determined to walk up to the precipice and step over. There is no obvious or veiled cry for help, and no turning back.

Author’s Note

What is written here is not research-validated. It comes from my experience working with suicidal individuals, and from my own experience with depression and the specter of suicide. I do not believe my experiences and thoughts to be the only ones or the right ones on the topic of suicide. I do hope that writing about it will help to open up discussions about life, despair and thoughts of dying – topics we all think about.


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