Suicidal Thoughts Can Happen When Life Is Good
If I were to ask you to picture someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts, what would you imagine? My guess is someone wearing dark clothes with a haggard expression and overall looking like he or she are down on his or her luck. The image of someone who seems to have it all together might not come to mind at all. But, like mental illness, suicidal thoughts aren't reserved only for those whose circumstances "warrant" it. Suicidal ideation can and does affect anyone at any time, even when life is otherwise good.
The Stigma of Having Suicidal Thoughts and a Good Life
When you assume that suicidal thoughts only happen to people who "have a reason" to be suicidal, it's very easy to fall into the game of "what do you have to be upset about when so many people have it worse?" (See also, "Stop Minimizing Mental Illness: Worst Things to Say.")
It's an unfair game that only serves to invalidate those with suicidal thoughts and silence them. It doesn't lead to "snapping out of it" or getting help. Most often, it leads to a silent struggle and even the completion of suicide.
There's also the problem of assuming that things and circumstances — the good or bad in our lives — dictate whether suicidal thoughts do or should exist. Can the external influence the internal? Absolutely, but in this case, one isn't necessarily predicated by the other.
Both of these situations ignore the fact that the brain can get sick regardless of life circumstances. You wouldn't tell people with another type of illness that they shouldn't be feeling sick because they have a good life, so why would it matter in this situation?
Reconciling Having Suicidal Thoughts When Life Is Intrinsically 'Good'
On top of others reminding you there's no reason to be suicidal when you have it "good," you war with it internally. My most recent brush with suicidal ideation happened at a point where things in my life would be considered good. I had a job I had gone to school for (what many considered my dream job), I wasn't dealing with any physical illness or any sort of loss, my relationship with my partner wasn't in dire straights — things were pretty okay for once.
But I was still suicidal.
(Cue the guilt. Cue the self-stigmatizing thoughts.)
"How?" I wondered. "Why? What reason do I have to want to die?"
I didn't reach out for help, and part of me thinks now that part of the reason may have been because of those thoughts. What right did I have to take resources away from people who really needed it?
It's not been easy to reconcile having suicidal thoughts when things are good, but it just proves to me that these things just sometimes exist. There might not be a clear why behind it except that our minds get sick too.
The important part is to ensure people have access to the resources they need.
If you feel you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.
If you need help with distressing thoughts (including suicidal thoughts), call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
For more information on suicide, please see our suicide resources here.
Barton, L. (2018, September 14). Suicidal Thoughts Can Happen When Life Is Good, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, March 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2018/9/suicidal-thoughts-can-happen-when-life-is-good
Author: Laura A. Barton
I appreciate your post. You never know what someone is going through or their background. I touch on that a bit in a post in my blog, http://www.sobeit32.com/do-you-know-who-youre-talking-to/
You're so right, Brian. Thanks for your comment and sharing the link to your blog. :)