The Decision to Die: When and Why People Turn to Suicide

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Death is at times messy and difficult to understand, suicide is almost always so.

The nature of such a death leaves many questions unanswered, the most pressing and confusing of which often being "why?"

Why would someone end their own life?

Attempts to address this question often cite a string of possible reasons – mental health, bullying, unemployment, relationship issues, the list goes on. While such an approach can help categorise the possible causes of suicide, it can also almost entirely miss the point on one of the fundamental reasons why people take their own lives.

These commonly cited attributions to suicide aren’t wrong. Short of being the impetus for suicide however, they are more often the generator of the true catalyst of suicide – deep emotional pain.

People turn to suicide when the emotional pain they are facing far exceeds their ability to cope with that pain.
Ever felt like you're being held together by just a thread?

Emotional pain in this sense can take a variety of forms. Heartbreak can hurt so bad that it is physically manifested, humiliation can be piercing, anxiety is paralyzing, and feelings of worthlessness damage more than just self esteem.

While we all experience emotional pain to varying degrees on any given day – how it can lead to suicide depends on the intensity of that pain.

Pain can be one-off or may accumulate over several instances. We are usually resilient enough to endure the occasional blow life deals us. However, when a barrage of these occurs at the same time or in quick succession, the pain that develops can be drawn out and seemingly impossible to heal from.

This is the kind of pain that eats you up from the inside, creating an endless void of darkness, dread, and despair. Any glimmer of hope or optimism for the future is slowly drained and mustering the will to live becomes a daily struggle.

As much as a person in this state wants to reach out for help, this otherwise simple act becomes immensely difficult as they are convinced that there is nothing and no one that can help turn their situation around anymore.

It's hard to shout for help when your head is under the water

The fear of being judged, labeled or reprimanded for how they are feeling also stops them from seeking support. This leaves them feeling further trapped and represents an added layer of emotional strain.

Very often, individuals experiencing a suicide crisis don’t want to die. Yet, they feel increasingly powerless to resolve the pain in their live or to remove the situation that is causing them that pain. The only option they feel they have is to remove themselves by taking their own lives.

The point at which a person goes from being in pain to being suicidal also varies based on how well-equipped someone is to cope with it.

What's been filling your bottle lately?

Imagine your capacity to endure emotional pain as a bottle. The events that cause pain are like water that flows in – mental health worries, bullying, unemployment, relationship issues, the list goes on. Now, imagine having holes at the bottom of the bottle where water flows out from. These help you cope with diffusing that pain – your reaction to adverse situations, a good support network of friends, family, a pet even. All this stops your bottle from flowing over.

But the thing is, everyone’s bottle is different. Other’s might be smaller, maybe there aren’t as many holes at the bottom or the holes are smaller, some might have had trauma growing up, some may not have friends or family for them to help cope with whatever happens in their life. That bottle is going to overflow and suicide becomes a very real risk when it does.

Don’t let your bottle overflow. Don’t let it reach that stage. Let someone know. Reach out. We all have something to work on and that’s OK. You are not alone.

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