Wednesday, 05 October 2016 13:27

Understanding Suicide

Written by  Deborah S. Cowell
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Someone once said that the only thing we can be sure about in life is change. Even though we work hard to maintain a stable and predictable way of life, some type of change always finds a way to throw us off balance. These changes for some are exhilarating, but for most of us we experience various levels of stress or anxiety.


Unfortunately, in recent years one solution to the anxiety and depression associated with unwanted change is on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014:


1. Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States.

2. Among females, the suicide rate is highest for those aged 45-64.

3. Among males, the suicide rate is highest for those aged 75 and older.


Suicide is not just being chosen by impulsive teenagers and young adults. An alarming number of older and more mature adults have put suicide on the table as a reasonable choice when life changes become overwhelming and an acceptable solution cannot be seen.


This solution is justified in a variety of ways. Some of the most common ones heard by friends, family, and counselors are:


1. “Everyone would be better off without me.”

2. “No one will miss me if I’m gone.”

3. “I can’t live with the “pain” anymore.” Pain is the description used for the unpleasant feelings caused by untreated depression and anxiety.

4. “It would be a relief to not have to deal with all the problems (life changes) I am now faced with.”

5. “I don’t deserve to live.”

6. “I see no hope for my future.”


Some people can’t imagine suicide as a reasonable choice. People who have had a family member or close friend commit suicide are at a much higher risk of also choosing to take their life. The idea of suicide has now been added to their list of options.


Life is hard. No one would disagree with that. Many of us have, at one time or another have not wanted to be here anymore. A brief escape from the struggles of life can be normal.


When that brief escape idea begins to grow into frequent thoughts of dying, paired with a plan to make it happen, you or someone you know has started down a dangerous path.


A permanent solution to a temporary problem is a tragic waste of life that leaves family and friends wondering, “Why didn’t they love me enough to stay?” The person feeling suicidal usually cannot see their value but others can.


 Here are a few suggestions that you or anyone can do that may save a life.


1. Ask if they are considering taking their own life. Some indicators may be withdrawal, giving away prized possessions, unnecessary risk-taking, drug/alcohol abuse, or loss of interest in pleasurable activities.

2. If the answer is yes or they have confided in you on their own, listen. Let them tell you their story. Everyone has a personal story that led them to consider suicide.

3. Always take their admission seriously.

4. Lead them to someone who can keep them safe. This could be a competent family member, medical doctor, pastor, or trained counselor.


Those of us who are Christians know that we were not created to face the constant and sometimes devastating changes in life alone. Those who do not know about Christ need the hope of God’s promises.


Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you.” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”


Philippians 4:13

For I can do anything through Christ who gives me strength.


Romans 8:38-39

And I am convinced that nothing an ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death or life, neither angels or demons, neither our fears for today or our worries about tomorrow. Not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.



Debbie Cowell is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and works out of our Prattville office. She is a member of the Alabama Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the American Association of Christian Counselors. Ms. Cowell works with individuals, couples, families, adults, adolescents and children. Debbie’s clinical interests include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, grief, spiritual and identity development, marriage and family counseling, parenting issues, adolescent issues, and child behavior issues.


Last modified on Wednesday, 05 October 2016 13:35
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