Welcome to stren #62: Preventing Suicide.  Let’s reveal the startling reason why humankind exclusively monopolizes the suicide market and animals offer no competition. The answer to a few questions leads us to simple interventions that more effectively halt the rising rate of suicide than our traditional advice.

  1. Why does one of our kind intentionally commit self-murder every minute?
  2. Why was this bright happy 10 year old singing as she was stopped just in time from hanging herself?
  3. What made this world-renowned musician murder himself after such a perfect recording performance that the entire symphony orchestra gave him a rarely offered standing ovation?
  4. And why did kamikaze pilots and now suicide bombers disrespect one of our most powerful instincts – self-preservation?
  5. Even though the answer to these questions is obvious, why do we avoid recognizing it? 

     We will lack effective suicide prevention until we squarely face what we don’t want to hear.  We ourselves are the primary reason suicide is an exclusive human trait!  The common denominator is that the faulty assumptions we teach our children provide the motivation for suicide in the same manner our parents taught us, and as they learned from their elders.  The young girl wanted to die so she could visit her beloved granny after she was told that would be possible in heaven.  The musician, even though the recipient of constant adulation, could never satisfy his learned perfectionism, and the role of education is quite obvious in the multiple instances of kamikaze pilots and suicide bombers. 

     Most persons have had suicidal thoughts.  My bout came as an immature pre-teen from my conclusion that I was responsible for my parent’s off-and-on-again divorce and the painful frustration from feeling pressured to take sides.  Fortunately, I was able to turn around the negative thoughts by picking an alternative route when I naively asked myself what I might do to straighten them out.  This was the beginning of my motivation to become a psychiatrist.  Faulty assumptions too often end in harmful outcomes.  Suicide prevention is most effective when we teach ourselves and then proactively educate our children to consistently make common sense interpretations of the data we receive.  Most current interventions focus on what to do when a crisis emerges, when it may be too late to effectively reverse the faulty assumptions that create guilt, self-punishment, helplessness/hopelessness, depression, perfectionism, and related thinking that incites self-murder.  We need to modify the early education that invites suicide as an alternative to learning to manage life’s stresses.  This stren offers twelve specific easily taught common sense examples of interpretations of data that establish the joys of living.  Recent news has dramatized the frequency of suicide by young people subject to bullying.  Bullying is a natural instinct quite difficult to eliminate. Bully-proofing, i.e. teaching resistance to bullying promises to have a much higher payoff.