I have been hearing and responding to several online and offline posts lately in which some friends have been in terrible despair. One such person ended her life. Others have been contemplating it.
While others take on a “holier than thou” attitude (meaning, in this case, “stronger than you”) I am very sympathetic to those who have gone down such mental paths. Not only have I contemplated it but I have several friends who went thru with it, and succeeded.
Back when I was a Woolworth manager, of a wealthy northern New Jersey town, I had a young lady on my staff, whom we’ll call Andrea. Andrea was extremely pretty, came from an upper-class family and had all the advantages of such- plenty of boyfriends, social status, popularity. She was also very unhappy.
I was going thru a tough time myself, since my first marriage had broken up. I had moved to the Somerset County area to try to be physically away from the situation with my first wife, and for the most part it was a very nurturing and healing atmosphere. But I still cried myself to sleep every night. I remember thinking “Am I ever going to stop crying? What will it take?”
Somehow, on a slow night, Andrea and I got into a discussion of her personal life (she was still in high school but was somewhere near a senior, and I was still in my twenties, so we weren’t far apart age-wise). Somehow the conversation turned to my personal situation and hers. Anyway, at one point she said something to me that stuck with me ever since:
“People want to commit suicide because they just want the pain to stop. Mental or physical. They don’t care how, they just want it to stop. And they don’t think it will ever stop hurting, so that’s the only way they can think of to get it to stop.”
When people commit suicide, others can be very judgemental: “How could he/she do this to his/her kids? Why didn’t he/she get help?” and on and on.
But someone who is in pain isn’t always thinking rationally. They can’t ask themselves these questions.
There have been several times in my life when I “just wanted to the pain to go away.” Not just after my first marriage, but even as recently as earlier this year after a brutal split with a tremendously talented singer, who turned on me after I left the band. With no music career left and no way to get one back my despair was palpable. And though it NEVER crossed my mind that I just wanted it to stop, I remembered back to the time when I did just want it to stop.
No one wants to go to bed crying every night. No one wants to wake up crying. No one wants to get up and leave their desk at work, or even walk off a stage, because they can no longer keep their composure. But sometimes life hurts. So sometimes people want to pick up that gun, or that bottle of pills, or make that jump. They don’t care anymore how they can get it to stop hurting, they just want it to stop hurting.
And you can try to reason with them: “Things won’t always be this bad.” “Think of your family.” “Count your blessings.”
But by the time the person has chosen that bottle or that gun or that bridge to jump off, all of these have been thought of already. The pain won’t stop. That’s all he/she knows. This will make it stop.
I wish all of you who stand in judgement of such feelings could get into the minds of those with these feelings (and maybe this little piece will help you). If you know someone like this, they don’t need rationalization. They don’t need to know whom that are hurting besides themselves. Maybe they need a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on or a hand to squeeze the pain away. But they don’t need your judgement. God will judge them and all of us. And he will see that, at least for a while, the pain was too much to bear. So someone jumped or swallowed a bottle of pills or stuck a gun inside their mouth. Maybe He will forgive.
But all we can do is try to understand, and maybe help anyway we can. We cannot know what is in a person’s mind, or broken heart. All we can do is to try to get them to understand that they don’t have to suffer alone, that we can give them our love and compassion, whether or not they appreciate any longer.
Even in our most powerless moments we still have ourselves. And that in itself is no small remedy- in fact it might mean the difference between life and death to someone at some point.