Emotional Fitness

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Taking Your Own Life Hurts Others

For many, depression is a silent and painful experience.

According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, most suicides occur during late July and August, not at the holiday season as most people think. Most unfortunately, I have seen the devastation left behind when someone chooses to take his or her own life.

Suicide destroys more than the life that's been taken. Loved ones left behind have to grapple with many unpleasant feelings, including self-doubt and even the fear that they themselves may be susceptible to those same feelings of depression. When someone makes the decision to kill themselves, they hurt other people who care for them-greatly.

Those who are abandoned in this way may wear the scars for life. Afterwards, some people are unable to fully bond with another; other people develop anxiety disorders or fall into depression. The fallout from a suicide has deep repercussions.

For many people, having fleeting thoughts of suicide does happen every once in a blue moon. A passing thought that stems from a major disappointment, for example, would not be considered suicidal ideation. However, it is not normal to dwell on suicidal thoughts for more than several days, and if this is happening to you or someone you know, you should contact a physician or therapist immediately. There is also a National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE, where trained counselors can help 24/7/365. If you know someone who is having suicidal thoughts, make the call.

Whatever it is that is putting that person in so much pain-and making them consider leaving this world before their time-it can be dealt with. Feeling that kind of deep emotional hurt is hard, but most of the time, the wound can be healed. So if you know someone who thinks that the world would be better off without them-someone who says that there is nothing here that makes them want to stay, that life has been a waste, or that they will never feel loved and it is too hard to go through life alone-please recognize that this thinking is not normal.

I understand those feelings. It's important to know that depression distorts your thinking and can make you feel like hurting yourself. When someone you know feels this way, it is their depression-not the person you know-that is speaking. After seeing a professional and, possibly, taking appropriate medications, the person you know will come back.

I have known people who were so good at hiding their feelings that you never would have thought they felt depressed. For many, depression is a silent and painful experience they think is best kept to themselves. They begin to feel more and more isolated and are unable to separate their own misguided thoughts of suicide from reality. It can happen slowly, over time, or it can happen suddenly as a result of some trauma. Whatever the cause, there is a way to make life worth living once again.

Please, if you know someone who has shared with you that they are considering suicide, give them this article. You may just save a life.





Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, columnist, and radio host. His latest book is The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.


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