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We Can Do Everything Right and Still Lose Them
Prevention & Postvention

We Can Do Everything Right and Still Lose Them

I don’t believe all suicide is preventable. It’s a falsity to try to claim it is, with a blanket approach for “prevention.”

I have often stated on the Alliance of Hope forum that you can be doing everything right, following all the protocols available to help your suicidal loved one, and still lose them to suicide in the end. Or conversely, you can be doing everything wrong, and your loved one may be miraculously saved from their suicide attempt. Or doing anything in between these two dichotomies, and you might still save or lose your loved one.

Many people have no clue their loved one might be suicidal until they discover them deceased via suicide, or someone else does. Others are beyond aware their loved one suffers from an undiagnosed or untreated mental illness, or that treatment has failed.

Suicide is the only form of unnatural death that we believe could have been prevented by ourselves, others known to our loved ones, the medical/mental health community, or someone else in proximity to the person who died via suicide.

Other illnesses, most notably cancer, may take someone’s life before what we consider to be their time, and we don’t blame the person with the illness or ourselves for not preventing their death. With suicide, we cast blame in all directions, and we needlessly suffer in the aftermath with guilt, because we do not ascribe a true disease, possibly terminal, to the final outcome of suicide.

I believe suicide to be the result of a physiological brain disorder that has manifested either silently or overtly until it overtakes the rational mind. Whether this is derived from a sudden mental aberration or a progressive and diagnosed mental illness, the illness has evaded possible detection in some, and successful treatment in others.

People die from cancer every day, some suddenly, with no warning, yet we do not question the “why” of their demise. We understand they suffered in some way. Some had shown no outward signs, and some showed gripping, crushing pain, and debilitation. We may be grateful for their release from such pain, even though we will miss them dearly and long for their presence. We don’t ascribe miracle powers to ourselves or expect to defeat such an illness, despite all odds against it. We accept that death is a part of life, and suicide is also a part of death, therefore a part of life, for many.

I am not suggesting that we shouldn’t try to save others from suicide. Of course, we should, with the full recognition that not everyone who successfully takes their own life could have been saved to live another day. Suicide and all the factors leading up to it are very complicated. Potential answers and preventive solutions, will also be complicated and not applicable across the board for all who are touched by this disease/situation.

We can improve our diagnosis and treatment for known mental illnesses and provide adequate and effective treatment for all who need it. There needs to be significant and cutting research into the properties of the physical brain, and how mental illness leading to suicide might spring forth from disease and disorders within the mind. There are so many mitigating factors involved with suicide, just as with many other diseases and life situations. If we can remove the blame and shame from suicide, we might make some headway in understanding it well enough to make a difference in decreasing its incidence.

I will always long for and miss my beloved daughter, who died via suicide in 2015. She suffered greatly beforehand and found her peace and release in this final act. It was not a choice made by a rational mind, but one dictated by her mental illnesses, her severe trauma and PTSD, and her psychosis which manifested abruptly. We had saved her from six previous attempts, but not the seventh. I believe it was time for her suffering to come to an end, as it could not be alleviated further by the best mental health treatments and attention.

Could she have been saved? Perhaps, but to what end? To continue to suffer so I could keep her with me, even if her quality of life was greatly diminished? There was no lack of Love between us, nor any form of misunderstanding. I would have done anything for her, and she knew that completely. Therefore, I am willing to let her have her peace, even if it means she is no longer in the physical. This is Love. Peace!

About the Author

Wisdom From Our Community

"Wisdom From Our Community" posts originally appeared on the Alliance of Hope Forum for Suicide Loss Survivors and are reprinted with the permission of the authors. Our online forum transcends time and distance, offering a culture of kindness, hope, and understanding to people who have lost loved ones to suicide. Operating like a 24/7 support group, our forum is supervised by a mental health professional and moderated by a trained team of loss survivors. Members can read and comment, share their stories, and connect with other suicide loss survivors.Read More »