Suicide is an alarming word in our world among individuals, families and society. However, we often hear news about individuals or even whole families taking the extreme step. Why does a person intentionally kill oneself? This option of suicide seems to be an ‘escape hatch.’ During times of extreme stress like exam results, breakups, business failures, etc, some people may feel unworthy of living. They may think the way out from this unworthy feeling is the route of suicide. The question is, when some choose suicide, there are many who choose to live. What contributes to the difference between these two types of people?
Dr Eric Berne, the founder of Transactional Analysis (an integrative approach to psychology and psychotherapy) showed, that all of us have written a life story about ourselves. He called this story “script”. We all have scripted the story of how we will live and how we will die in this world. The script is based on our childhood experiences and major events that happened in our early life. This life story of an individual may contain many schemes but one of the major components that influences a person to commit suicide is: “As long as I am doing certain things well, I can live in this world. When I do not live up to certain expectation, I must not live.” An example of not satisfying a condition may be, “As long as I am able to get good marks and keep others happy I can live, when I fail and others are unhappy because of me, then I should not live.” These decisions are not conscious choices, but a blueprint of life made in an unconscious process and stored deep in us.
These decisions manifest as patterns in our thoughts, fantasies and actions which we can become aware of. Psychotherapist Bob and Mary Goulding have identified seven ways in which this “I mustn’t live” decisions are ‘lived’ out by an individual. Any thought of suicide has any one of the below theme in action.
If you don’t change, I will kill myself
If things get too bad, I will kill myself
I will show you even if it kills me
I will get you to kill me
I will kill myself by accident
I will almost die (over and over) to get you to love me
I will kill myself to hurt you
While physical death is one manifestation of the above beliefs, other lesser manifestations include neglecting physical health, excessive smoking, alcoholism etc. As humans, we are all prone to experience positive as well as negative feelings at times. There are times when one may feel shameful, depressed, guilty or even isolated. Suicide may seem one of the most viable options as a way out of these negative feelings. During such tough moments, remember to watch your breath. Keep watching your breathing for a while. The good news now is that you are alive. At the unconscious level, every living organism has a survival instinct and so do human beings. We just have to exercise our will to live. The conscious decision every individual can take when they feel suicidal is, “No matter what, in fantasy or consciously or unconsciously or even accidentally, I will not harm myself or others”. This sentence can be an antidote for the suicide decisions as well as to close the escape hatches at times when a person contemplates suicide. When suicidal thoughts persist, it’s advisable to take professional help or find people who can help you.
Recall the proverb “When one door is closed, many doors open”. Close the door of suicide and you will see many more open doors of life. For more inspiring articles from our psychotherapist, visit www.ncpc-india.com