I was recently asked why people commit suicide. If I simplify it, I come up with two primary reasons. Firstly, the person is linking their sense of self worth to what they have.
Often I ask my clients “If you won the lottery today would you be a better person tomorrow” and their answer is always “No, I’d be the same person”. Then I say “If you became bankrupt today and lost everything, including your relationship, would you be less of a person tomorrow?” They desperately want to say yes to that question, even though they know its the wrong answer. I say to them “You would be a person with less, but not less of a person”. One reason people commit suicide is they believe they would be less of a person.
Another thing I often ask my clients is “Finish this sentence: I will be good enough when…..”. The answers are often along the lines of ‘when I have a great relationship’, or ‘when I’m earning $x’, or ‘when I’m successful’. This is not a good sign as they are tying their sense of self worth to ‘things’. When those things are not there they feel completely worthless, and suicide is a follower of worthless.
The second reason people are more likely to commit suicide is that their level of happiness is low to begin with. We all have ups and downs in life and we all drop in mood when there is a negative life event. However if your happiness levels are higher to begin with you only drop to (lets say) half way. If your happiness levels are half way to begin with and you get a negative life event you will drop to the bottom. That’s a horrible place to be. Not only that, but those with higher happiness levels will bounce back more quickly.
Their down mood will be more temporary. Those who are less happy to begin with won’t have the skills or resources to bounce back and will stay there. It is the staying there that is the real problem that causes suicide. It is the lack of hope that things will get better. The answer therefore is to learn how to be happy (and it is a learned skill) and learn how to love and accept yourself as you are and where you are on life’s journey.
Both of these are things I help my clients to do. Both of them are learned skills.