Preparing for the End ... Suicidal Thoughts and Planning
by Edward B. Toupin, Life Coach
An ominous title for this short blurb, but one of great importance to me. I recently had a client sit down with me and discuss his immediate desire to take his own life. He wanted to chat with me because he wanted to make sure that everything would go well for his family once he was gone and he knew that I would not judge his decision.
What a heavy thing to throw at someone! Especially since, I am not seen as judgmental about suicide. However, I have seen my share of suicides and that topic no longer rubs close to a sensitive spot. But, it does tend to interest me when indeed people begin to disclose their desires to take their own lives. Not to worry, we had a long chat and he is with a doctor now, but I found the discussion to be an eye-opening experience for me.
--- Problems and Poundings ---
It seemed that his life had, as he put it, "gone into the big latrine." Every way he turned, he was pounded on by one thing or another. He just couldn't take it anymore. Being the inquisitive person that I am, together we looked at each of his "personal poundings" and indeed, these situations were not minimal. But, the question that kept coming up was, "could you have avoided each situation or treated it differently?"
Obviously, one cannot go back and change the past, but you can learn from you errors and move forward not to repeat them again. It seems that revisiting old "wounds" tends to desensitize the feelings and, in this case, buy some time to find a way to have him seek help.
--- Planning ---
He actually had it all planned out, right down to when, the equipment required, the location, and even the toxicology and physics involved in the process. He is a very smart fellow with a lot of knowledge in numerous areas. Far from insane, as so many people view "suiciders," he knew what he was doing and he had a solid direction and plan.
But, the one interesting thing about his situation was that, once he planned it all out and was ready, he realized that he was happier now than he had been in years. He had two weeks before his demise, yet he was willing to live it up and enjoy it to the fullest. This, because he pain and turmoil were coming to an end.
--- Conundrum ---
Obviously, the inner turmoils, the pain, and the inner suffering that he had experienced would not simply go away. But, by setting up a situation where he could see the "light at the end of the tunnel," by killing himself, he had eliminated the impact that his inner pain and external poundings made on his life.
Additionally, the entire process of planning his own death had provided him with a project and a process that took his mind off the troubles that he felt. Instead of living in his head about any of his situations, he simply focused on the task at hand: "a perfect suicide."
--- In Retrospect ---
As he explained all of this to me, he began to slow down and I could see the little wheels in his head turn. We began to discuss a new view. Perhaps it was just merely the fact of bouncing the ideas off someone else who would listen that his notions began to trigger some life-saving information stored in his own head.
With the idea that indeed his life now looked brighter with the knowledge that he was indeed going to die, he was now happier than he had been in years. Also, he felt all of his troubles and fears lift the minute he knew what his "vision" in life was: "his own death." But, after some basic discussion, he and I concluded that "we're all going to die anyway." If life looks so good now when you know you're going to die in two weeks, then give it a whirl and see how it is in a year since you're going to "die anyway."
With all of the time that he spent working on his own death, he learned that he could have been doing something else that would have benefited his life considerably. If indeed, simply the act of "having something different to do" made a difference in his feelings about himself and his situation, then perhaps it is beneficial to "find something different to do" that makes a change in one's life.
--- In the end ... ---
In the end, he decided that he needed to put as much work into living as he did into dying. What did he have to lose at that point? But, he was keeping his suicide plan handy. Actually, it was a 10-page document containing a suicide note, drawings, chemistry, and some mechanical calculations. If it were not for the context, it was well thought out, impressive, and indicative of someone who did put a lot of work into it. But, the idea is, if he had put that much work into living, then indeed he would have seen things so much differently.
At a later meeting, we chatted about his ideas and he has a completely new view of this life. Instead of planning to die, we're going to sit down and make a plan for living. Why not put as much work into living as into dying as, indeed, one can make just as drastic a change to life as one can in death.
About the Author
Edward B. Toupin is an author, life-strategy coach, counselor, and technical writer living in Las Vegas, NV. Among other things, he authors books and articles on topics ranging from career success through life organization and fulfillment. For more information, e-mail Edward at email@example.com or visit his sites at http://www.toupin.com or http://www.make-life-great.com.
Copyright 2003 (c) Edward B. Toupin, All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to electronically reprint the following article as long as no changes are made and the byline, copyright information, and resource box. Minimal content editing is allowed; however, you may request changes to the content or byline by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org with necessary changes. For print publications, contact the author to discuss and to obtain US mailing address to send courtesy copy. Let the author know if you use this article and where it is published by sending an email with the URL or a copy of electronic publication to email@example.com. HTML code and additional content is available at http://www.toupin.com.
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