25 Reasons to Avoid Suicide

©Susan Dion 

1.  Suicide is too horrible a legacy to inflict upon your family, friends, and other loved ones. For children -- whether age three or twenty-three -- the suicide of a parent is a blacker-than-black tragedy. They cannot ever truly recover from such a loss. Suicide leaves deep canyons of pain, sorrow, and chaos for each person touched. Each and every day, the survivors will be haunted by "Why?" We cannot inflict that kind of pain on others.

2.  The symptoms may improve. The illness may even resolve itself. It has happened to others -- many of whom also experienced periods of despair and hopelessness in the midst of life-wrenching sickness. There is much room for hope.

3.  There are always new and better ways to learn to live with the losses, limits, and pain imposed by sickness. Each individual can look forward to mastering new coping skills in order to improve his or her life with illness. Indeed, you can throw yourself into learning such skills. You can consciously choose to live better and smarter - in spite of awful symptoms. You can seek help.

4.  Your experiences in learning to successfully live with illness may assist others in similarly mastering such approaches. You can help. You can generously give to those who are still struggling. You have much to offer.

5.  New and better treatments may be found next week, next month, or next year. You'll want to be the beneficiary of such gains. You need to be here to benefit.

6. There are new people yet to enter your life -- people you'll appreciate, cherish, and love. These might include a grandchild, a special friend, a delightful neighbor, an intimate soulmate, a lover, a long-distance pal, an unexpected child (your own, a friend's, a 
sibling's, or one you tutor), and more. It is one of life's great magical mysteries to welcome new people into our lives. This is true even when one is homebound, or bedbound, or severely restricted.

7. A cause or causes for the illness may be uncovered sometime in the near future. Your innate curiosity requires that you find the answers. As different pieces of the puzzle are put in place by researchers, one sees the momentum for further significant advances. And, finding the causes will lead to a cure.

8. There is so much more to enjoy: more sunsets and sunrises, more garden tomatoes, more films, more food, more friendships, more creative pursuits, perhaps some travel, more books, more, more, more, more . . . 

9. You may contribute to significant medical research by volunteering to participate in scientific studies. If you're unable to do so or if you don't fit the research criteria, you can encourage others to participate. These volunteers are absolutely essential to finding cause and cure. The value cannot be overstated. We're all in this together. 

10. You may be needed to offer a crucial piece of advice to a loved one or a friend facing a crisis. You've got to be there to do so -- regardless if it is next week or ten years from today. You want to be there for them.

11. Suicide is not an option. We must repeat to ourselves and others: "Suicide is not an option. Suicide is not an option. Suicide is not an option."

12. You'll be needed to sustain others: your parents, partner, children, grandchildren, larger family, friends, pets, other patients, a stranger at the bus stop, still yet unknown companions, and more.

13. Suicide does not promote advocacy or activism. It does not help others to learn about the illness. Suicide kills.

14. Depression can be overcome. While it is a common response to debilitating, life-changing illness and disruptive pain, it is treatable. Time, counseling, medications, support, self-love, and prayer all contribute to a successful battle over depression. Many, many people have made it through the darkest depths of depression. They've gone on to live and love. There is light at the end of the darkest tunnel. There is life with sickness - even when one is paralyzed from the neck down and a respirator is required to breathe.

15. Each person is valuable. Each individual is filled with promise. Each human being has a multitude of gifts to share with the world. This is true even when we're uncertain as to our purpose and abilities at any given time. It will come - with courage, persistence, and patience.

16. Suicide lays waste to the value, promise, and gifts one has to share. Forever.

17. There are more smiles yet to enjoy. There is much more laughter to embrace.

18. Suicide hurts everyone. It does not aid anyone.

19. Living on offers so many possibilities. There are so many angles of life to watch unfold. There are many, many stories-in-progress (including our own) to follow. What will happen by 2001 or 2015 -- to family and friends, to the neighborhood, to the nation? What will be discovered about our illness and other poorly-understood medical problems? Will Liam Neeson and Will Smith still be making movies? Will I be symptom-free? Will the Phillies make it to another World Series? Will I be able to be more physically active? Will we finally elect a woman as President of the U.S.? Will I have less oppressive daily "flu" symptoms? Will my children have children? Will parts of California be lost under the sea? Will I be able to resume gainful employment? Will UConn continue to foster powerhouse women's and men's basketball teams? I want to know how zillions of stories unfold. More importantly, I want to be around to observe, reflect, and participate - in whatever ways are open to me. We all are a part of many stories.

20. Suicide is bad P.R. It confuses the public.

21. Suicide is the result of lousy judgment rooted in depression and pain.  It cannot be blamed on insensitive doctors, unsupportive friends, lack of a cure, and failures by others. While all of these things may exacerbate emotional lows, suicide is the decision of one individual. If that individual were ill with CFS or FM, but not suffering from depression, that person would never ever choose suicide. It would be incomprehensible. We need to do a better job acknowledging and receiving help for depression in its earliest stages. We need to help each other.

22. Do not confuse living with doing. Life is also be-ing. A rich life is possible even in the midst of dismal symptoms. (Read M. Scott Peck's book, "A Bed By The Window.")

23. You would not counsel a loved one living with a difficult, lengthy illness to give up and die. You would not tell a person living with CFS or FM that she or he is of no value and therefore is not worthy of living. You wouldn't pick up the phone and solicit help from "Dr. Death" just because a person faces depression while suffering with a painful, debilitating illness. No. You'd compassionately urge your loved one to value his or her self -- despite the rotten, despicable illness. You would fight relentlessly to have the person find a ray of hope. You would seek assistance and intervention from professionals. You'd recount how you and others have made it beyond the darkness. *** Counsel yourself in the same loving, life-affirming manner in which you would counsel another. 

24. Disability rights activists have several slogans, one of which labels Kevorkian a "serial killer." Another is a dog tag which requests that "no expense be spared" to keep you alive. The philosophical and political slants are readily apparent. It is wrong to judge a person as "unfit" to live because of horrific, ugly, painful illnesses. Don't succumb to false images of what it means to lead a "normal" life. Find strength and inspiration in the stories of so many severely disabled persons who courageously pursue life's challenges and joys. Get mad. Get angry.

25. Suicide ends life. It is terminal.

About the author:

Susan Dion resides in rural southern New Jersey. She's been ill since 1989, but continues on with hope and strength.

NB. Reason 11 has been modified by Brenda Reeves: 

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"The soul that is within me no man can degrade." 

Frederick Douglas 

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