In their wake suicides leave a lot of pain, confusion and sometimes mystery. No matter how devastating suicides are there is something that can be learned from them. That is what I discovered in the last four years when I lost my two friends and a cousin to suicide.
Quality of life.
One of the things I noticed about my loved ones who committed suicide is that they lived better lives than they could have been ,taking into consideration their situation. They were making progress, and had an overall improved quality of life, but for some reason they had convinced themselves it was too little, that they were stagnating or it didn’t matter. Poor mental health has the ability to do that, to make us overlook our victories and measure ourselves against some unsatisfiable yardstick.
Lesson: All this has made me learn to appreciate every little accomplishment I make, never overlook them or belittle them, because they honestly matter.
When they were optimistic they overestimated their potential, luck or skill. This created a lot of unnecessary pressure, akin to perfectionism, that was stifling and too demanding. Those pressures coupled with, in some cases, depression created a state of paralysis – there was so much to do yet no energy, skill or time to do it. It is the disillusionment of those high expectations that created crushing disappointments and waning self-esteem.
Lesson: You have to have realistic, measurable and adjusted goals and expectations, something that suits your situation optimally and appropriately.
Metrics of Happiness
The biggest shock,often with loved ones who commit suicide, is how they had seemed very happy or accomplished. Everyday we look at people and we tick off a list of things we think constitute or make for a happy life. That might be money, education, a job, a flashy car, an attractive romantic partner etc. too often these metrics of happiness are challenged every time a successful person commits suicide. This forces us to consider what makes for a happy fulfilled life. While it is a difficult question to answer for everyone, clearly it is one we have to know for ourselves.
Lesson: We have to know what makes us happy, and what we want out of life rather than what society prescribes as a route to happiness. Pay attention to, nurture and never neglect what makes you happy, gives you a sense of purpose or meaning.
I certainly didn’t have to lose any of my loved ones to learn these lessons, but it is their deaths that constantly remind me of these important lessons. The hope is they work for you as they have for me. May their deaths not be in vain.