Let’s talk about suicide for a moment.
I have cried several times now from Robin William’s death. It’s amazing how one person can touch so many people’s lives. I wish deeply I could have given him a smile in his time of need.
This also illustrates one of the challenges of suicide for the survivors: we are left behind doing our best to fill in the hole we feel in our own life.
Be true, be kind, share a smile. It does make a difference. Unlike an illness we treat after we get sick, suicide is about prevention and care. Our actions make the difference before suicide even happens not afterward. Discover in spirit we can make a difference simply in how we hold ourselves. To connect with others or our-self in a manner to encourage the desire to explore further in life.
Are we always alive?
Or is it an inspiration,
upon each waking.
Each day – > a doorway
Story of Suicide
Every morning, every waking is a new birth into our selves. Yet, so many chains, chains of our own making, limit what we think is possible.
It’s possible to get stuck in a story, and that is a very serious problem that can lead to suicide.
An Animal is a living being that lives against its instincts.
A human being is an animal that extends its instincts with stories.
Animals don’t commit suicide, in fact their instincts fight to live.
It’s when a living being crosses the line to becoming human that suicide becomes a problem.
The trap of being human is when we hold our story to be the same thing as our life. They are not the same thing. This is where suicide enters the picture.
Suicide is: When a person gets so trapped within a story, they make the mistake to think the only way out of the story is to end their life.
It’s always possible to start a new story in life. I know for I have faced this hard challenge myself.
Once I was stuck in a bad marriage and glued into a literal hell job. It was at this moment I discover how powerful stories could be in trapping a person. One night after work, while driving home, I had a deep feeling it would simple to slam my car at 80 miles per hour into the I-90 Highway Mercer Island tunnel. I reached the end of one lifeless story… It would have been a quick and simple death. Yet, at that moment my Taoist beliefs kicked in to save me as I was about to turn the steering wheel to end it all, the idea just shocked me. I shook my head realizing: if things were this bad -> I could just walk away from the problem. I didn’t need to end my life, rather I just needed to change the stories limiting me. The next morning I started the process to close down the work project I was on, I started the process of shifting out of my bad marriage. Then each day, in a journey that moved across seven years, I moved each morning into a new life. It was a process of weaving seven years of aspirations and dozens of distinct changes together as a whole new story to live. I recreated myself.
16 years later I am here to tell you it was worth every second to create new stories for my life, to expand my life rather than get limited by outside stories which in retrospect weren’t true to me.
My personal story illustrates many truths about suicide. One truth is that most suicides are moments of opportunity that occur when we are weak within our story. I share this story to illustrate how human it is to confuse our life and the story we are acting out -> to be the same. The trick is not to get carried away by our emotions that can limit a person to a single story.
We are each a story teller and we often confuse our tales to be the same thing as our life.
Our life is comprised of actions, but stories are the clothing we layer over our actions.
Life is hard; yes, life has challenges, and our stories can get complicated. Never confuse the stories you live to be absolutely your life. You can always shift, change, explore life from countless different stories. Be open to living and explore them all.
When we have a partner who is feeling suicidal, that is a challenge of immense proportions. We don’t want to push too hard for fear of creating more damage, and we want to help enough to assist in their path.
It turns out to be very hard to get outside assistance also. People will tell us not to worry, or they will overreact.
One thing you can do is this: Be aware when your partner isn’t happy in their story to not be afraid to help them laugh, don’t be afraid to show them other stories to explore.
Friends & Family of Those Who Pass Away
The challenge of friends and family that have experienced suicide are the unanswerable questions and the feelings of guilt.
What could I have done?
How could they leave?
And hundreds of variations to these questions.
No one answer we find quite answers everything. A person can be left in a state of shock after someone close to them commits suicide. For us the survivors: we ourselves are left behind doing the best to fill in the hole we now feel in life.
I will say this. Be patient with yourself. It will take up to two years to come to terms with what has happened. Don’t rush the answers. You will feel the hole for a while. Instead, ask yourself this:
What can I do to make life better?
How can I expand the stories I am living?
How can I celebrate and remember the person I loved and still love -> fully?
To learn and flip around the nagging doubts and instead live more fully as the person we loved would have wanted us to do. This last line will stir up some anger because from our perspective, suicide is a selfish act. But it doesn’t remove this true contradiction: Those who do pass away would have wanted you to go on more strongly and live more fully. Honor them by doing so.
A Question About Suicide
This question was posted in A Personal Tao blog
I want to end my life. I have been at war with ‘this world’ and my place within it since I developed consciousness.
What do you interpret from Taoist writings about the act of suicide and the consequences?
Firstly: Such answers need to be presented in person since a proper answer depends on one’s circumstances.
Secondly: It helps to talk to another person to get some outside perspective, The following resource is a good place to start
To answer your question in a general manner
Taoism says the following about suicide.
We exist to live as ourselves. The moment you feel life needs to end is the time not to end life, but to change a life. To walk away from the problems or what is driving that feeling of embracing death. Different paths do exist: Always. Suicide is the moment of feeling so stuck that you fail to see the other options. But those options always exist. Always! We live in potential, and in that, a Taoist discovers all paths.
If a person takes a moment to pause before suicide, it turns out most people turn away from suicide as that moment of pause is enough to show a new path.
Taoism doesn’t see suicide as negative nor positive. Suicide is the deep need to change a story that has gotten out of hand. People make a mistake feeling as their story has become pointless to transfer that overwhelming feeling against their actual life and into suicide. Suicide is simply not logical nor practical from a Taoist perspective.
I have considered suicide, its nothing to be ashamed of and it was an important turning point in my life. So I know the feeling. Taoist teachings showed if life was bad, rather than ending life; it opens a new door to walk away from the bad marriage, bad job and all the parts that didn’t fit life to keep the parts that were important. So I changed my life. To create a new life.
Death comes in many forms. Death isn’t always in the form of physical death. Many people embalm themselves within a living death as a form of suicide. Or others can commit emotional suicide.
Every moment we live in the now, every moment is a new life. The problem is people can also live to past or future, getting stuck into places that literally “kills” or shreds them. The way out is always living now, by just deciding to live. Nothing more is needed. Is it easy: no, which is why people at times resolve life with suicide. But suicide isn’t a resolution to Taoist thinking. Suicide in Taoist thought doesn’t end your life; it just puts you back into your life. To relive life. This means suicide is a waste of potential and time. In Taoism in effect, we believe you will relive it until you don’t commit it. Life is eternal. Death merely a transition back into your life. So it’s preferred to change lifestyle and to skip past suicide.
You can always talk to another person!
You have reached out to another person, me, and others who read this and I would miss you now. We are all connected. Take the step to discover a new life. In retrospect discover it does make a difference and touches other lives in ways you never suspect.
I know in my case because I made that choice, to live in potential. I am here now, talking to you, and so you see: it does make a difference. Life isn’t pointless.
It’s not about being talked out of ending your life. It’s more to discover: Countless other options exist. In Taoist terms, we have many potentials. We choose which one to experience. When living in one potential that doesn’t fit, that its time to shift living, truly start living in another potential that does fit us.
If you ask how, A Taoist will always reach out to touch your heart: smile and in that smile show you a path for a new life.
The most important gift I can share right now is this
A smile to share in life. I only ask you to share it back with others since such connection opens up new answers that will surprise you.
My answer isn’t meant to be perfect, only to help give pause and to consider other options. In that, you can discover new potential, new life.
Closing Thoughts on Suicide
This article has been my personal perspective based on my own experiences and talking with others who have also encountered suicide. What I wrote here isn’t an answer as much as opening up the discussion a bit so you can feel a bit more open in exploring the nature of suicide. I feel too many people are afraid to talk about suicide, which only increases the chances for people to be disconnected and hurt themselves in feeling alone or worse when feeling near the end of a story.
Don’t be afraid to do more research and find out more. Don’t be afraid to reach out to start new dialogues or find new stories to push into.
A good starting place is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.