« Return to Blog

The Complexity of Suicide

Ronnie Walker, Alliance of Hope’s founder, often talks about how we each create our own narrative in the aftermath of our loss. We need to make some kind of sense to the seemingly senseless. The following is something Ronnie wrote in regards to that:

The paths that lead to suicide are so complex. So many variables are involved: psychological, physiological, social, etc. There is no doubt that each of us impact our environments and other people by our actions. Sometimes people do things that are terribly hurtful, dis-empowering, even evil. When we are treated that way – or when our loved ones are treated that way – we want to cry out, let the world know, cry “foul,” take revenge.

While it is natural to mourn our loved one – and to feel sad or angry if they were mistreated, it is also important to remember – and perhaps this is not easy, especially in the first months and years – that there are so many factors involved in suicide. We try to create a narrative around what happened, but we can never know for sure the full details of any relationship or why our loved one did what they did. We can never know all that was involved. We can observe that they faced life challenges, or were not treated well, or suffered intolerable pain or mental illness, but in the end, we never really can know all that was involved – all that led to that final act of ending Life.

This is especially important to distinguish because so many members of our forum fear that their words or actions, said in haste or anger, led to the suicide of a loved one. So many members of our forum carry around a lead overcoat of guilt for doing – or for not doing – whatever it is they think had impact.

We need to remember that suicide is complex. We do our best to understand and to create a narrative, but it is never one thing. Suicide is the final “dance” of an individual with Life’s circumstances. A given circumstance may lead one person to end his life, but it might inspire another to take other actions. We are complex beings living in a very complex society.