A Person with a Good Life Can Still Be Suicidal
While suicidality is often driven, at least in part, by lifestyle factors, a person with a good life can still be suicidal. This doesn't make sense to many people. How can someone with an objectively good life feel like they want to die? The answer to that is simple and complex. A person with a good life can be suicidal because of the brain.
What Does Being Suicidal with a Good Life Look Like?
People often think of people who are suicidal as just having had something terrible happen to them. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the risk factors for suicide are:
- Serious illness such as chronic pain
- Criminal/legal problems
- Job/financial problems
- Substance use
- Violence victimization/perpetration
- Loss of relationships
The CDC points out many additional lifestyle factors.1
These things make sense to people. If you were a victim of bullying and had money problems, for example, that wouldn't be merely a "good life," so wanting to die of suicide makes logical sense.
However, one can have a good life on the outside and still be suicidal. That's because you can't see what's happening in a person's brain. Mental illness, for example, lives within a person's brain, and unless you are privy to someone else's internal monologue, you may not know what it's saying and how severe it is.
A Good Life and Suicidality Can Exist Together
A person may have a job, relationship, kids, home, and all the other trappings of a good life and still feel the pull of suicide every day. I've been there. I've had images of my own death play over and over in my mind when nothing else was really wrong. I have a home, friends, a job, kitties, and more, but all that does not protect me from suicidal urges. It just doesn't.
Why Would a Person with a Good Life Be Suicidal?
A person's brain usually reacts to positive external stimuli (like having a job) in a positive manner. This is what most people experience. But the brain is an organ in the body; like any other organ, it can get sick. A sick organ doesn't act like a healthy one. And a sick brain doesn't act like a healthy brain, either. Positive external stimuli can still exist, but they may not change the illness a brain is experiencing. And part of that illness may be suicidality. Part of that illness may be wanting to die, seeing images of death, no matter what. This is not the person's fault. A sick organ is never your fault.
What to Do About a Good Life and Suicidality?
The first thing to know is that if you're suicidal and have a good life, you're not broken, nor are you ungrateful. What you are is dealing with an illness of the brain. That illness is not you, but that illness lives inside of you. It is not your fault, but handling it is your responsibility.
What you need to do is reach out for help. Be honest with mental health professionals about what is going on in your brain. Talk about what your brain is seeing and saying. Professionals can help you, but only if you are honest about the problem. And if one person doesn't see your very serious suicidality because of your "good" life? Then, talk to another. You need and deserve help no matter what your personal bio looks like.
And finally, know that you can get better. Suicidality is not something that you have to live with. It's a symptom of something else, and symptoms can be quelled. You can return to your good life without suicidality. It can happen. But only with help.
For suicide help and resources, see here.
Risk and protective factors | Suicide | CDC. (n.d.). https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/factors/index.html
Tracy, N. (2023, September 8). A Person with a Good Life Can Still Be Suicidal, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, February 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2023/9/a-person-with-a-good-life-can-still-be-suicidal