Yesterday, September 10, was “Global Suicide Awareness Day”. Whilst circulating this information, I realised that sharing my own reasons for suicide might be informative.
The traditional view of the suicide is of someone whose deep personal despair means they have given up on life. Well, I don’t know about anyone else but when I first tried suicide, there was a great deal more to it than that.
The first time I chose the suicide route, I was in the middle of being unlawfully evicted from my home by a gangster landlord. I was recovering from a serious illness and I was trying, and failing, to extract myself from a relationship with a psychopath. At the time, I believed that there was no Love in the world and I had an absolute-refusal-to-consent-to-this feeling although I didn’t know it well. My attempt, which should have finished of an elephant, failed. I’m here to share this with you.
In the years since, I have stepped up to the suicide line a number of times and always for the same reason. That new feeling introduced itself. It’s not despair; its rage. It’s an “over my dead body” response to experiences of cruelty or abuse. It’s my “I will not consent to this” rage.
In all truth, I admire this new aspect to my being. I think she’s definitely a bit of alright. I respect her refusal to consent to abuse and I understand why she chooses this path. We both saw what happened when we chose to respond to abusers in their own language of violence. These days, with a criminal conviction hogtied to a determined attempt at redemption, I have lost the right to express my violent feelings outwardly. There’s nothing wrong with feeling violent – it’s what you do with it that matters. Feelings as powerful as this have to find some form of expression if the person feeling them is to remain accessible to sanity. If I can’t express my outrage at abuse outwardly, I’ll turn it inwards instead. I fully understand those who self-immolate. When I am in this kind of rage, I am capable of such an action too.
What I particularly like about this aspect of me is the fact that she will build up her reasons slowly. When I’m feeling free and don’t find myself surrounded by criminal stupidity, thoughts of suicide don’t figure in the picture at all. There maybe problems but these can usually be sorted out with a bit of effort and commonsense. If, however, in my search for solutions I encounter a deliberate blockage, then ‘the woman who ends at suicide’ steps up to deal with it.
Reflecting on these experiences is interesting. For example; I know that my experience of despair alone is not enough to kill me. I’ve spent a lot of time down there and my despair drove me into psychotherapy in order to learn about it. In a clash between my extremely powerful will-to-live (or will-to-love in my case), despair loses every time. Only rage is powerful enough to enable me to step over the edge into suicidal behaviour. By the time that happens, I have a trail of evidence proving that the blockage I’m dealing with refuses to move, despite every effort to negotiate a workable settlement. They are usually ‘winning’ whilst I am normally being forced to ‘lose’ something I regard as sacred. Well, anyone who thinks they can force me to betray my faith-in-Love can think again – it really will be over my dead body. The greater the force being applied, the greater my refusal. I regret to say that I have caused some very skilled prison staff some very real headaches as a result of this. I would also say that they are the reason I am alive now, that’s how good they were.
In mental health terms, my suicidal ideation is reasoned and I can show cause, but there’s an interesting development when I shift my exploration into spiritual dimensions.
For example: a ritual act of suicide is often the qualifying act of indigenous shaman. I’d forgotten that when I swallowed my suicide dose, only to find myself alive afterwards. The shaman is one who has taken the lethal dose and lived. But I’ve met a lot of people who’ve survived their act of suicidal intent. I’m definitely not alone in this.
After I survived, I found that some of my old beliefs didn’t work anymore. One that ‘died’ was the belief that I had no right to live on this planet – a feeling I’d had all my life. I reasoned that I’d given my ‘god’ the choice to kill me off and the bastard had sent me back! I was supposed to be here after all! It’s a profound change that set off a deep seismic shift in my psyche that I’m still coming to terms with.
One outcome was encountering people who disagreed with my new understanding. It wasn’t simply that we agreed to disagree – which is always, in my opinion, a best outcome. No, this was the “I’m going to force you to comply with my will” type of disagreement. It was exactly the same behaviour that had led to my suicide attempt and they didn’t give a damn about it. What I uncovered, as I dug deeper and explored the implications and consequences of their behaviour, was an underlying intent to incremental murder. I could document it because I could force them to write it down. Once I had it in writing, I used procedures to challenge what was occurring. With every knock-back, my challenge grew until I was poised on the suicide precipice. If the force continued, I jumped into the void. It must piss my enemies off something rotten to know I’m still here; still talking about what they do; still teaching others how to spot them; and that there are those who are listening! I’d be most surprised if my name wasn’t on someone’s death list somewhere. My response? Bring it on!
Attempting suicide enabled me to lose my fear of Death. In shamanic terms, Death is a forever friend. I can ask Death if it’s my time to leave yet as I embark upon my next adventure. The answer is still “Not yet”. It’s a very liberating experience and means that I can explore how I want to die when I do. With Suicide Woman as my guide, I know I can die a warrior’s death if I choose to – that I can die ‘with Honour’. What’s not to like about that?
I’m not recommending suicide – for many years I believed that the karmic price for death-by-suicide was to repeat the lesson I was refusing to learn, only worse, in my next life. It’s a good belief to have if we are simply trying to evade our own evolution. When I did finally try suicide, I was willing to pay whatever price it took because I knew there would be forgiveness at the end of it. I wasn’t refusing Life – I was refusing to collude with murderers. That’s a whole different ballgame. The Way of the Samurai teaches these disciplines.
If I encounter someone with a suicidal ideation, I’ll take all the steps needed to help them but this will also include an exploration of any ‘miraculous’ escapes from the clutches of Death. Are they also meant to be here too? If they are, then whatever they are experiencing that would drive them to the precipice of suicide is likely to be murderous too – and that needs dealing with. But if they are dealing with it and suicide is their next weapon in the battle, I am going to respect their choice.
In the end, I want to have lived a valuable life for my community. In my mind, this means that I become a part of any love-based solution to the problem of murderous intention, up to and including dying for it. These are ancient spiritual values that find their way into the present all the time. I feel good about me when I know this, and it’s the reason I still keep suicide as an option if I can’t get the murderous to actually finish me off.
After all that, I haven’t the faintest idea whether this is useful to anyone, but it’s my take on the subject. I post it only because it might help someone else struggling with these issues. I’ve found that really does help to know we are not alone.