Exploring suicide – considering another way
“Suicide is not something that just happens, it is but the end result of a process where one’s belief in living is slowly dwindled away until one feels so empty that the only choice seemingly left is to discontinue life. We need to realise there is another way.”
– Martin Gladman
When we look at the statistics, one quarter of the deaths recorded in 2011 for men between the ages of 15-24 were due to suicide. One quarter – that’s a frightening number.
With suicide being the leading cause of death among young males in Australia, is it not time that we start to bring a new awareness and consideration to the possibilities as to what leads to, and finally influences, someone’s choice to take their life?
Our young men are choosing to die, with the significant word here being choosing, for this move is always a choice, albeit influenced. So the question needs to be asked – what is this saying about the world we are living in? What is this saying about the outcome of the pressures and beliefs that are hanging around our young men?
What we need to realise is that if one man can experience feelings of suicide, then it means that any man can. Suicide does not discriminate.
Any traumatic moment we experience is held in our bodies – our minds can’t always remember or recall it, but it is there, living with us every day. It’s impossible to be in this world and not have experienced some form of trauma at some point in our life: the time someone betrayed our trust, the time we were rejected by a lover, the time when we thought we had life figured out then discovered we were far from it – each of these experiences holds a self-shocking (and potentially devastating) quality that has the ability to nudge us to question our understanding of ourselves, the world we live in and our place in it.
Our bodies have the greatest memory and most of the time, we don’t even know it.
Trauma affects how we think about the world, but it is the meaning we make of the trauma and all that surrounds it that dictates the impact it actually has on our lives. Every time we experience an event, a conversation, a situation, be it major or minor, we are making meaning of the experience and the meaning we make then dictates the impact the trauma has on our lives; the actual event which caused the trauma itself can be irrelevant. Someone may live a horrific life, full of abuse and disappointment, but have the ability to understand what is going on, come back to a sense of themselves and rise above it. Others on the other hand may lead a seemingly ‘normal’ life but then experience one relatively small and ‘insignificant’ thing that can deeply devastate them, changing their understanding of the world and their way of being in it. So how can this be so?
Every day we are making choices. When we give meaning to a situation, a decision is made, and thus, a choice. That choice can either confirm who we are and our connection to ourselves and all people, or it can disconnect us from what we know to be true and begin a cycle of dis-ease in the body and in our lives.
We are all making choices in every moment of every day. We are just not as aware as we could or should be.
What is important to know is the fact that a choice is being made and it is that choice which holds the key to how we come to live our lives, and it is in this that we could start to find the answer as to why many are living in a place of misery or function, instead of truly living healthy and vital lives. Choosing disconnection means living a life disconnected, and living in lack of connection with ourselves develops lack of true trust with self, and then ultimately, lack of trust with humanity.
When it comes down to it, suicide is a choice – a choice made when someone feels like they have no other choices. But before that choice is made and acted upon, there are a myriad of other choices that have been built and contributed to one even beginning to think of suicide in the first place. Suicide is a slow process of disconnection from oneself that starts long before someone makes/takes that final choice to take their life.
So, what blurs our ability to see the choices we have before us? Most people who have experienced suicidal ideation but not followed through, often report having being offered an opportunity to truly see that there is a different way of being, something worth living for, be it big or be it small, essentially a moment of re-connection to life.
Is it possible then, if we take this longitudinal view, that the cure to suicide can be found in connection? And if so, would it not be important to consider the nature or sustainability of that connection? For we can easily talk about connection, but what exactly is it that we are connecting too? And what is getting in its way? And why aren’t we building that every day?
Connection that relies on any source other than the one which is in one’s inner heart sets up both a dangerous and dis-empowering game, leaving one at the mercy of whoever or whatever it is that they have chosen to connect to. This is worth taking time to ponder on.
What we invest in, we exist in. It’s a very simple but deeply profound formula.
If we are truly worried about the state of our men’s health, then we need to start considering the role that true self-connection plays in our lives, and be open to the possibility that maybe how we think, act and behave is not necessarily always clear, but sometimes blurred by the experiences we have had and the choices that we have made leading up to and following this. At any time we can stop and reimprint this.
Building connection with self should be paramount in our discussions when exploring ways in which we address mental health, especially when looking at the alarming suicide rates amongst men. True connection to self offers us the ultimate form of empowerment – one of true choice and ultimate freedom.
To revisit a statement from earlier in the article, if one man can experience losing their will to live through living in disconnection, then so can we all, but equally so. If one man can choose to re-establish and re-form his connection with himself and then re-commit to life, then so too can we all. We must never forget this.