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Is Suicide an Option?

by Ralph Seland 1999

I work as a trained volunteer on a help/distress line.

One of the most difficult calls that I remember came from a man who had just been diagnosed with full blown AIDS. He told a "friend," and the news spread from there. A short time before, he had had a well- paying job and lots of friends; now he had nothing. He had shut himself off from everyone he knew and felt utterly alone. I knew that he wasn't playing games with me, and I didn't offer him sweet platitudes.

In most cases people don't really want to die; they just wants the horrible experience -- whatever it is -- to stop. But they don't see any way of making things get better, so assume that suicide is their only option. If I can show them that there are other options, I have lowered a ladder into the pit of their despair.

Why didn't I say, "Go for it, and God keep your soul"? (I do not even consider that he will be lost if he suicides. The two are entirely separate issues in my thinking).

There are at least three reasons why I would like to see him live, although the future looks black to him:

  1. When people have adjusted their thinking after going through trauma and despair, they will likely find that there is still something worthwhile to live for. I have seen it happen.

  2. I have been to funerals of those who have completed. The sorrow experienced by the bereaved far outstrips the pain that comes via a tragic accident or a long illness. It is estimated that the lives of at least one hundred people are affected by a suicide.

  3. As I told one father who was on the brink of suicide, "I can guarantee that if you suicide, sooner or later, one of your sons or daughters, relatives or friends will follow your example. They will look back at your life and remember how nice a guy you were and see how people still love you and respect you. They will forget that they have other options and will follow suit." I have seen it repeated time after time.

Let's consider other options.

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Last modified 10 May 2010 08:12 PM