You hear about it in the news or on the street corner. “Did you hear? Jim died. He shot himself! Him — of all people! He was the last person I thought of who would commit suicide.”
I had an uncle who shot himself. Uncle George was a World War II veteran (he survived the Battle of the Bulge), he survived polio, came home and within ten years blew his head off with his younger brother’s gun. Nowadays, it’s no wonder Uncle George shot hmself. He saw the horrors of war; he had polio and his wife had just left him.
But in the early 1950s, men did not talk to anyone about wanting to commit suicide. You were considered insane if you did. When Uncle George died, Granddad refused to let anyone in the family talk about him. I never found out about Uncle George until Granddad died because no one in the family dared to talk about Uncle George — even after Granddad moved to Florida. But Granddad’s attitude persists today.
There is a great stigma attached to wanting to commit suicide. If you want to die, you are considered selfish, cowardly or (depending on your religion) sinful. This social stigma can prevent people from getting help so that they do not commit suicide.
If you feel like you want to end your life, please talk to someone. If talking to a family member or co-worker is off-putting (“They’ll think I’m crazy!”) then talk to your doctor. Doctors have to keep what you say confidential. Don’t feel guilty about thinking or imagining how to kill to yourself. Just talk to someone about how you feel and why you think that death is the only solution. You may find that you have a lot more choices than suicide or suffering in silence.
I think most people consider suicide at least once in their lives, but they don’t want to admit it. I haven’t found any studies to back me up on that hypothesis, though.
I wish I had met my Uncle George. I would not have been able to cure his depression but I certainly understood why he shot himself. At least I could have told him that I knew what he was going through. It surprises me that no one in the family or his friends told him that. That may have made the difference.