All about the mind

Ending it all

Last night there was an episode on House that hit me hard.

It covered the topic of suicide. One of the member’s of House’s team kills themselves.

Not many prime time dramas shock me…after all, I am a big fan of Law and Order: SVU which covers issues such as sexual abuse and rape.

But for some reason, this one did.

I kept thinking there would be a mystery…such as the person being murdered, which by the way, was House’s hunch. And honestly, that would have easier to deal with. That would have been almost expected by a television series. But once it became clear at the end of the show that the person did actually suicide, I found myself in tears. (No, the character was not my favourite and House is a show I watch only because everything else is crap!)

I think it had to do with a few things.

For one, this character seems to have everything going for him. He seems to have friends. In every episode, he seems ok in terms of his mood. He seems to enjoy his job. So why? Why did he do it? There was no note to say so.

The other thing that scared me was probably a lot more personal — what if I have a client that ends their life? We are taught to conduct suicide risk assessments with clients where we assess ideation and intent. But what if, a client tells me that everything is going well, and then they kill themselves overnight?

So far, in my short career, I have not had a client kill themselves. However, statistically speaking, the longer I work as a psychologist, the more likely I am to encounter a few that will.

And it scares the shit out of me.

The only brush with suicide I have had was when I was 14 years old. A boy in my apartment block committed suicide at the age of 20. I can still vividly remember standing in my balcony with my sister as the police brought his covered body. He drank poison.

Back then, I thought all people that killed themselves were cowards.

I know better now.

There are some people that abide with the rule that if someone says they want to kill themselves, they are only doing it for attention…because if not, they would have done it. Then there are the impulsive ones — the ones who suddenly feel like there’s nothing to live for following a number of stressors in their lives. There are those individuals who feel so hopeless and can see no reason to live for. And finally, the ones that are feeling so hopeless but pretend to the rest of the world that things are just fine — while at the same time, they are planning their good-byes.

If you know someone who talks about wanting to end it all, please don’t laugh it off. That could just be their cry for help.

And if no one listens to that cry, their thoughts of worthlessness and hopelessness are only further justified, leading them to take action.

For those in Australia, if you are distressed or know someone who is, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800. For those in other parts of the world, do seek help if you need to.

Until next time,

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  • Ersa
    24 April 2009 at 5:37 pm

    For me, suicide is a very scary topic to ponder. I had a close friend from childhood who committed suicide. And I was shaken when I heard the news.

    It brings tears to my eyes when I think about it even today, after so many years. And I can’t imagine what her parents must be going through, given that she was the only child.

    The fact that nobody saw it coming was surprising. She was very normal, no signs of depression, nothing. Or maybe no one took the time to notice… Who knows.

    Well, not sure why I’m writing about this now. But this was the only thing that popped up in my mind after reading your post. Sorry for hogging your comment space…

  • Psych Babbler
    24 April 2009 at 10:03 pm

    @ Ersa: I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. And you are in no way hogging the comment space… Suicide is a very scary issue but unfortunately very prevalent as well.

  • Skywalker
    6 September 2009 at 1:12 pm

    you have categorized people pretty accurately into three categories….and yes suicide is nothing to be laughed at..a batch mate of mine attempted by consuming something and ended up in hospital where her stomach was washed, and then for about a month she was not herself, instead of making her comfortable people were cursing her for commiting that act

  • Psych Babbler
    7 September 2009 at 8:18 am

    @ Skywalker: Welcome to my blog! It’s sad that most of us still have that stigma towards mental illness and suicidal attempts/behaviour.

  • Skywalker
    7 September 2009 at 11:15 am

    able to follow now 🙂

  • Renie
    7 September 2009 at 9:24 pm

    This was an amazing episode – real shocker!