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A Divorce Therapist's Perspective on Suicide

A permanent solution to pain with devastating impacts for survivors

As a seasoned divorce therapist, I have seen countless numbers of ordinarily high functioning people be knocked completely off center by a breakup. I've witnessed men and women who have been brought to their knees by the termination of a relationship; rendered non-functional.

For some, as we recently saw with fashion designer, Kate Spade, the pain is so intolerable that suicide seems the only answer and the only way out.

Suicide is called a permanent solution to a temporary problem but for many—if not all—of those who take their own lives, they just can't see a way out. They believe their pain will never end. And, indeed, for some, they have already endured years of pain and can't see why they should stick around for still more.

Suicide is not for anyone to judge. Nonetheless, it's human nature to point fingers when seemingly senseless things like this happen. People will say thoughtless things such as "that was a very selfish act" or, "how could he or she do that their loved ones?"

Although it can seem senseless to someone who has never contemplated killing themselves, no one is in position to criticize as we can never know another person's pain—be it physical, mental or emotional.

Given that suicide rates are on the rise (it is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the 2nd leading cause among those aged 15 - 34), it has become a public health crisis.

Just as we have seen happen with divorce, when a friend or loved one (or famous person) commits suicide, there seems to be a tacit permission to follow the same path. The unthinkable happens, making it less unthinkable. It has the potential to become contagious.

We know that certain mental illnesses increase the risk of suicide (depression, bipolar disorder and PTSD, for example), but there are likely cultural causes as well. Social isolation poses a tremendous danger. Not being able to ask for help or—worse—not having a support network of people in place to ask help from, are common in our increasingly every-man-for-himself, fast-paced and stress-filled lives.

It makes sense, then, that divorce (or any kind of breakup), might trigger thoughts of suicide.

Can Suicide Be Prevented?

In a word, yes. Suicide, when carried out for emotional and mental reasons, is a by-product of hopelessness. While it's no one's fault, there are signs and symptoms that might indicate a person is contemplating their own demise.

Here is information put out by the Center for Disease Control:

Know the 12 Suicide WARNING SIGNS

Feeling like a burden

Being isolated

Increased anxiety

Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

Increased substance use

Looking for a way to access lethal means

Increased anger or rage

Extreme mood swings

Expressing hopelessness

Sleeping too little or too much

Talking or posting about wanting to die

Making plans for suicide

5 Steps to help someone at risk

Ask someone who is exhibiting the signs about whether they are contemplating suicide. Don't be afraid to be direct.

Keep them safe.

Be there.

Help them connect.

Follow up.

Find out how this can save a life by visiting: BeThe1Tocom

Reaching Out for Help and Support is Crucial

If you are considering suicide, and think you might hurt yourself, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

Talk: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

On-line chat: suicidepreventionlifeline

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