The last thing that most people expect is that they will run out of reasons to live. But if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, you need to know that you’re not alone. By some estimates, as many as one in six people will become seriously suicidal at some point in their lives.
Suicidal thinking is usually associated with problems that can be treated. Clinical depression, anxiety disorders, chemical dependency, and other disorders produce profound emotional distress. They also interfere with effective problem-solving. But you need to know that studies show that the vast majority of people who receive appropriate treatment improve or recover completely. Even if you have received treatment before, you should know that different treatments work better for different people in different situations. Several tries are sometimes necessary before the right combination is found. If you are unable to think of solutions other than suicide, it is not that solutions don’t exist, only that you are currently unable to see them. Therapists and counselors (and sometimes friends) can help you to see solutions that otherwise are not apparent to you.
Although it might seem as if your unhappiness will never end, it is important to realize that crises are usually time-limited. Solutions are found, feelings change, unexpected positive events occur. Suicide is sometimes referred to as “a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Don’t let suicide rob you of better times that will come your way when you allow more time to pass.
A famous psychologist once conducted a study of Nazi concentration camp survivors, and found that those who survived almost always reported strong beliefs about what was important in life. You, too, might be able to strengthen your connection with life if you consider what has sustained you through hard times in the past. Family ties, religion, love of art or nature, and dreams for the future are just a few of the many aspects of life that provide meaning and gratification, but which we can lose sight of due to emotional distress.
Help is available for you, whether through a friend, therapist, or member of the clergy. Find someone you trust and let them know how bad things are. This can be your first step on the road to healing. Contact a crisis centre. Source: American Association for Suicidology, www.suicidology.org
What is it? Is it curse or blessing or both? The sense of having no hope deepens our despair. One of the worst things we say to another human being is that they are hopeless. We speak of being hopeful… of feeling hopeless. We cannot give another person hope. Reality teaches us that what is hope to one may be a burden to another. In other words, my hope is not your hope. The challenge is to find a definition of hope that is truly our own.
The key to this illusive concept of hope is finding our own definition of what it means in the midst of life. As we struggle with darkness, fear, despair and apathy we can feel that there is no hope. Perhaps that feeling comes from our understanding of what hope has been in the past. Perhaps what we experience in the extremity of struggle is a whole new definition of hope. Victor Havel writes, “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.”
Experience teaches us that our understanding of hope changes throughout our life time. When we are children hope is what makes us happy. As we age, hope is a goal, a vision, a dream. It is far less immediate. Something we might attain, rather than a state we can dwell in, right her and right now. Hope, at the darkest moments in our life, is not a comprehensive commitment to faith and belief. At those times hope can be as simple and as profound as the voice of another human being who appears to hear our fear; hope can be the knowledge that the sun will rise tomorrow, hope can be the smell of fresh spring rain, or the first snow flake, or the photo of someone we love. When despair seems to overcome us we feel disconnected, isolated, lost. What we need most in those moments is a means of re-connection, relationship and belonging. This “means” can be surprisingly simple or deeply complex. What matters at the moment is that we find this path of meaning in this life, here and now.
As someone who studied the science of hope, Ronna Jevne writes, “Hope; we ridicule those who have too much of it. We hospitalize those who have too little. It is dependent on so many things yet indisputably necessary to most. Those who have it live longer. Words cannot destroy it. Science has overlooked it. A day without it is dreadful. A day with an abundance of it guarantees little.”
If you are reading these words; you have hope. Try not to compare it with anyone else’s expression of hope. Try not to get caught in the dualism of good – bad, hopeful and hopeless, worthwhile and worthless… the only kind of hope that will succeed is one that melts all the need of competition and comparison. When we can come to this understanding we experience a sense of peace, both within and beyond ourselves. In this state we trust life to be a journey of adventure, meaning and worth.
Imagine hope as an energy that melts the difference between life and death. Life then is no longer either/or, it becomes more than we can even imagine. Ending life then is not the option for the end of struggle because life is not an endurance test of endless struggle. It is rather a mixture of struggle and strength. This is radical hope because it is often born in a sense of hopelessness. It is a new definition of the meaning of hope, which is not about happiness – rather it is about fullness, meaning and connection. It is being constantly reshaped and redefined, and it is constantly inviting us to the never-ending story of life’s meaning.
This is how hope becomes energy for whatever we have to face in life. It is not optimism, rather it is strength of seeking and realism. Hope irks many professionals. Professionals are trained to know. Yet the choice is ours to make in relation to hope. We can open ourselves to the mystery or stay with the illusion of certainty. Books abound on the topic of hope, but before you begin reading take some time to read from the book of your own life. Here some questions that may help you define your meaning of hope: