This is a heavy topic, but I believe it’s very important to talk openly about it.
By adulthood, almost everyone has known—or known of—someone who has taken their own life. For most people, it’s hard to imagine what might lead a person to make that choice, and yet it happens all too often. Suicide is actually the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2020, nearly 45,000 people in this country ended their lives that way.
Sadly, the ongoing challenges of 2021 may make that number go even higher.
How Hopelessness Grows
Some of the primary underpinnings of these painful endings have to do with the negative stories we tell ourselves about our lives, worthiness, character, and lovability, which in turn dictate our beliefs and behavior on many levels. When those stories tend to be agonizing and sad, it can be very difficult to see the goodness in ourselves. For some people, suicide may feel like the only way out of their suffering.Some of the primary underpinnings of suicidal thoughts and behavior have to do with the negative stories we tell ourselves about our lives, worthiness, character, and lovability. Click To Tweet
I understand this well because I used to have a very negative and distorted narrative about myself. There was a time in my past when I felt like I had turned my life into a complete train wreck. I was so depressed I prayed that God would take me because I couldn’t find a way to escape my own pain.
Have you ever felt that way?
A Book of Hope
Prolonged hopelessness is a very dark and lonely place. I’m so grateful someone was there to help me through that time of despair. Yet, I know not everyone has a helping hand to reach out to. Fortunately, one of our truly special psychiatrists at Amen Clinics, Dr. Daniel Emina, has co-authored an incredibly insightful book entitled, The Suicide Solution, (coming out September 14, 2021).
In this book, one of the topics discussed at length is the false stories—”narrative ruts”—that we repeatedly tell ourselves. These stem from malfunctions in our brain’s hardware (biology) and software (psychological processes), as explained in the following excerpt:
“These narrative ruts, produced by our ‘bugged’ hardware and software in tandem, have the effect of turning the strong protective mechanisms we use to defend ourselves against outside threats onto ourselves—like a soldier pointing his gun at his own head instead of the enemy. And so…
- If the story you are telling about yourself interprets the abuse you endured as a child as overwhelming evidence that no one can be trusted, then you will live your life trusting no one, including the God who longs to redeem you, because that validates your story.
- If the story you are telling about yourself is that you have always been an outsider, someone the “insiders” habitually ignore, then you will live your life unconsciously pushing people away, because that validates your story.
- If the story you are telling about yourself is that you are very difficult to love, and
that others can be coerced into loving you only when you perform perfectly for them, then you will live your life as a perfectionist, performing for people who never seem satisfied by your standards, because that validates your story.
- If the story you are telling about yourself is that your life has a kind of cancerous effect on others, even on those who insist they love you, then taking your own life eventually makes rational sense, and validates your story.”
The many factors that lead to suicidal thoughts and behavior are thoroughly articulated throughout this book. But even more important, The Suicide Solution also provides detailed strategies and steps for helping to heal the pain that can otherwise lead a person to that place of no return.
So, if you’re suffering with painful thoughts about the value of your life—or know someone who is—I urge you to read this book ASAP. Not only will the information give you a much better understanding about this topic, but it will also engender great hope for shifting your personal narrative away from a place of darkness to one that shines a light on the amazing, loving, and beautiful human being that you are.
For more inspiration, order my newest book, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child: How Persistence, Grit, and Faith Created a Reluctant Healer.
The Suicide Solution by Daniel Emina, MD, and Rick Lawrence offers hope and a practical toolbox for people who are struggling to find their way out of a cave of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts—and for anyone who cares for someone who’s been lost in that cave. Informed by the clinical realities of anxiety, depression, and suicide, the authors draw from the transformational relational strategies of Jesus to chart a path into life and freedom.