Suicide: On the Brink – What does it feel like?


Ten days ago, we reached the end of National Suicide Prevention Week, but the struggle continues.

There are a million reasons why someone sinks to the depths of clinical depression. Blend that with anxiety, and you have a disaster in the making every bit as potent as mixing bleach with ammonia. At any given moment, as you reflect on where you’ve been, there’s darkness. As you look forward, there is only more of the same. What’s behind + what’s ahead = hopelessness. Sometimes that sense of hopelessness, at that particular second of understanding, is enough to convince someone that suicide is not only possible, but desirable. Thoughts of family and friends, passions and daily joys strike against an impenetrable barrier and can’t relieve the mindset.

So, what does it feel like when you stand on that brink? Here’s an example.

Yesterday, as I stood looking up at the beauty of white clouds against a blue sky on a cool, breezy morning – a day that should have been joyous except for the fact I knew the moment would be fleeting before going to a dreaded job full of stress and anxiety – the thought occurred to me that I could actually end it. It would take only as long as receiving an injection and probably hurt just as little, but the pain would be gone. Imagine standing at a table. On it is a piece of your favorite chocolate, or a beautifully cooked steak, or a red velvet cupcake. All you have to do is pick it up and put it to your mouth; the joy of having that desire satiated is magnetic. Then imagine the inner strength it takes to talk yourself out of it. Ask anyone who has been on a diet for several weeks about confronting that temptation. How many resist the indulgence, how many say: well I’ve earned it, so I can treat myself just this once? Multiply that desire by a thousand and you can barely peek through the tiny keyhole of a suicidal individual’s mind at that moment. There is no fear of death – the one thing that keeps most everyone from doing something precipitous doesn’t exist. In fact, thoughts of suicide in that moment elicit an inner smile; peace floods your body with relief. Pulling back from that precipice is Herculean. That’s why 41,149 people killed themselves in 2013, one every 12.8 minutes in our country, and the rate has been climbing steadily since 2000.

I urge everyone to be sensitive to friends and family and co-workers. Watch for the signs. If you suffer from this, get help, see a therapist. If you’re reading this and you’re close to the brink, then go here: Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-8255. Don’t try to go it alone.

9/11: Never Forget…


9/11 Memorial

As each anniversary of this horrific event rolls around, there are the reminders to never forget. We renew our resolve to never forget the people who perished, the loved ones who continue without them, and the people who are still dying from the diseases contracted on that day and during the clean-up of ground zero. I believe that one of the tacit reasons we challenge ourselves to never forget is the underlying desire to strike back at the perpetrators of 9/11. I know that I am guilty.

That said, I must also remember to rise above my desire for revenge and to never forget that we have also been the perpetrators of obscene acts, as have the Germans, and the Japanese, and the North Koreans, and the Jihadists, and…well the list could, and does, go on and on.

The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor to eliminate our interference of their imperialistic goals and to end the oil embargo we had put upon them. (Just as a side note, we are now contemplating doing this with China as they flex their imperialistic muscles). They chose a military target and of all who died on December 7th, only 103 civilians were killed. A little more than three and a half years later we unleashed a new era by dropping two atomic bombs on Japan. We chose to drop these weapons of mass destruction on largely civilian targets, not military ones. Even though the battle for Iwo Jima ended almost four months before Hiroshima, all remaining civilian population had been removed from the island and bombing that instead, might have proved just as effective a demonstration and prevented a civilian death toll 75 times greater than 9/11. Just consider the fact that the bomb on Hiroshima was considered by some a failure because it yielded only 1.7% of its capacity during its release. Imagine if all its fissionable uranium had been used.

The United States has also bombed places like Libya and Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan along with 23 other countries. I believe much of it was justified, but if one were to add up the number of civilian casualties obliterated by American bombs, it becomes a little easier to understand the steadfast hatred leveled in our direction.

War is an abomination, but it would seem we will never be free of it. It’s in our DNA, and we suffer from ideologies of such extreme polarity that there is no hope for establishing a middle ground.

So yes, we must never forget. But the lesson is, we must never forget the extent of just how low humanity can morally descend and remember to seek the higher ground whenever possible.

Hiroshima Memorial

Hiroshima Memorial