Understanding Suicide

by Clay Langhorne
(Victoria BC)

Whether or not they experience a catalyzing loss or disappointment, a person?s suicidal tendencies generally precipitate from a life-long failure to know themselves, not a failure to love themselves as many believe.. Many ?suicides? become so proficient at hiding their ?self? in order to be liked, that they forget what they hid or where they hid it. Consequently these statements about suicides fall into context:

"He really tried to appear light and carefree all the time . . . but there was always something he was holding back."

"He only showed the mask we all wear in our everyday lives to cope, and to make sure others see the appropriately well-adjusted exterior.?

?He was the guy who really took care of everyone and went out of his way to make people feel good. He did all that for other people, but in the end, he couldn't do it for himself."

"An all-round giver who failed in the ultimate human quest to love himself.?

So as not to be too judgemental, it bears keeping in mind that the gravity of a lie or habitual lie, is defined by its intention. A lie to steal money; a lie to defame; a lie to feel big; a lie to be liked; a denial ? all have their own specific gravity. But for some reason our culture considers a lie to oneself to be unprovable, and its regarded as an opinion. A pattern of lying that kills the self ? that, for some reason is considered to be victimless.

In the extreme, persons with suicidal tendencies lie life-long, to be popular ? think movie-star. At the root of their outlook are two fundamental denials: (1) ?I didn?t intend to misrepresent myself; to lie or hurt anyone.? This purposely focuses on ?why I did? rather than ?why I do,? denying the fact that ?practice makes perfect? ? a life-long habit becomes autonomous, making current-day intent irrelevant. (2) As opposed to an inability to love themselves, persons with suicidal tendencies do not believe they can be liked for themselves, common among alcoholics and addictive personalities.

They err in thinking that because they?re giving people what they want, they are noble; that somehow the universal obligation to be true to yourself and honest to others is cancelled out because they ?got along;? were lambs; were ?nice,? non-confrontational or politically correct. The right to privacy and the right to be untrusting is perverted into a right to be unforthcoming ? whereas to be forthcoming is the essence of honesty.

A person?s identity is tied up in how they have succeeded. Consequently, this statement falls into context:

?it seems people are only defined by what they do.?

A person whose identity is tied up in succeeding at being perceived to be a ?nice person,? paints themselves into an emotional corner. Obligated to obtain their values from outside themselves, from society, they build their identity on sand, so-to-speak. They obligate themselves to refrain from anything that might be remotely threatening or confrontational -- angry voice is not OK, angry tears are OK. Unfortunately this attitude discourages ?reason,? the act of confronting one premise with another. When friends dissipate, or replace their Peter Pan identities with core-values and families, where there was once great validation, now there is none. When you look at the sum of your life and say it was all striving after wind, how do you come back? You have to reason with yourself -- take a long, cold look and ask, who was I, who am I, who did I become? To realize that you are a shadow; to come back from that, and say ?My whole life, and everything I believed in was not real,? many people just can?t fathom what will they fill that void with. The denial that fuelled their persona has a habitual momentum more absolute than ?cement overshoes? or a malfunctioning parachute.

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