Causes of Suicide Complex

Suicide is tragically all too common today. And it is one of the most complicated and heartbreaking ways to lose someone you love, especially a child.
The causes underlying this tragic act are complex and varied. Many sources report that a mental condition such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or personality disorders may be an underlying cause. Sometimes it is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Additionally, teens and young adults can have mood swings, be impulsive, and lack perspective. They may see no alternative after a significant loss or other stressful life event.

A Catholic priest, Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI, has written extensively on suicide. One particularly powerful excerpt states: “The majority of suicides should be understood as death by a mortal illness: a deadly chemical imbalance, an emotional stroke, an emotional cancer or an oversensitivity that strips someone of the resiliency needed to live.” 

Depression Like Other Diseases

Depression has been compared to cancer. Some people with cancer can be cured, others managed with treatment, but some cases of cancer are fatal. Similarly with depression, some can be cured, others can be managed, but tragically some are terminal. Suicide is the result of terminal depression.

After a suicide parents must face both the brutal reality of their child’s sudden death as well as the many additional emotional issues and stigmas associated with it.

A mother shared the following after losing her teenage daughter to suicide, “It was like a bomb went off in our home. Absolutely everything changed.” After finding her daughter’s still warm body and trying to revive her, she suffered from P.T.S.D. along with crippling grief. She and her husband divorced. Exhausted after work, she barely had enough energy to make dinner and go to bed. Her younger son withdrew and didn’t appear to need her help. However, several years later he needed professional care for major depression.

What Parents Say

The following stories are from parent survivors who share their unique struggles after losing a child to suicide. One mother describes “choice” as related to suicide this way:

“Our son, Keith, was 29 years old when he decided to end his life by suicide. Suicide is a frightening word, and it is not only ignorance but fear and stigma that keep people from understanding why someone would take their own life. In a way, it is easier to think that a person made a ‘choice,’ freeing us from knowing the truth.

“The word ‘choice’ continues to perpetuate the stigma of suicide. The definition of choice is; ‘the freedom in choosing, both in the way one chooses and in the number of possibilities from which to choose.’ In a pre-suicidal state, an individual is overwhelmed in a given situation. They suffer extreme mental anguish and a painful sense of hopelessness. Their sense of judgment is distorted, and they do not have the ability to make ‘choices.’ They usually want to kill the pain rather than themselves.

“Suicidal people may be unable to restrain themselves from acting on feelings or impulses. This strong impulse to end the pain is often due to the depletion of the chemical called serotonin. This is a chemical within the brain that helps restrain impulsive behavior.

“We can only imagine the horrible mental torture our son endured. Depression is one of the most terrible and pervasive illnesses of our day.” 

Guilt is ‘Biggest Burden’

This mother describes her battle with guilt and finding courage to move on:

“Guilt is still the biggest burden I carry. Had I been a good mother? Had I given him all the tools he needed to survive and thrive in what can be a cruel world? Did I love him enough? Yes to that last question. I did love him enough, but in the end my love wasn’t enough…. (From Carol Loeher, The Compassionate Friends, Heart of Florida Chapter Newsletter)

Life is Still Good

“Although guilt rears its head periodically, I don’t dwell on it. That would be a waste of time with no resolution. I have come to a place of peace now. It has taken time, patience and support from many, including my Compassionate Friends. I have learned to love my hobbies again, including photography and travel. Each time I visit a new place and take it off my ‘wish list,’ I think of my boy and know that he traveled with me.

My mantra has been ‘Life is Good.’ It does not need to be said that Jeff would not want me to enjoy life. ‘I will see my boy again’ is my other mantra.” (From Joan Conley, The Compassionate Friends, Kamloops, B.C. Chapter Newsletter)
Read more from Linda on Open to Hope: Recognizing Signs From the Afterlife – Open to Hope

Linda Zelik

Linda Zelik is a retired occupational therapist who specialized in treating hand injuries. Unable to have children, she and her husband felt blessed to be able to adopt two newborns: a girl in 1984 and a boy a year and a half later. Being a family with these two beautiful children was a highlight of their lives. Tragically in 2010, Kevin their 24-year-old son, died in an accident. Linda and her husband have been consoled through witnessing many and varied signs from their son since his passing. Linda wrote a book entitled From Despair to Hope, Survival Guide for Bereaved Parents. Its purpose was to assist other bereaved parents and siblings through their painful grief journeys. Additionally, she details the many signs she has received in hopes that the readers will be open to recognizing signs from their loved ones on the other side.

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