Suicide: a How-To Guide

I came across a website today.  It’s all about suicide.  It provides a range of information – statistics about suicide; what causes it, who commits it, how they commit it. I read further and discovered several pages discussing the various suicide methods. There is even a table compiled, listing the fatality rate of each method, along with expected time required for death to take place and the amount of pain thought to be experienced from start to finish.  To my horror and disbelief, I also found a detailed guide on how to successfully off yourself using each method.

This website was one of the first to come up in a Google search for depression and suicide.  I imagined a person at their lowest stumbling upon this; a website to help them select whichever method seemed to best suit their death wish, and all the information required to implement their heart-breaking plan.  The worst possible form of “help” I could imagine for these poor souls.

It made me angry.  Livid. Why on earth would someone provide the world with information on how to end their own life?  How does this person sleep at night, knowing their words might have been (arguably) responsible for someone else’s death?  What in the world possessed them to create such an awful tool?

I continued reading, and I changed my mind.

On top of the how-to-suicide-guides, I found unbiased, factual information regarding the likelihood of failure (and potential lasting health implications) for each method.  For the particularly gruesome suicide styles (such as firearms, jumping in front of a train, or hanging), there was a section outlining what someone would be exposed to upon discovering the body – how it would look, the trauma the person may experience, and the clean-up they may have to do.  There were statistics, references and resources listed at the bottom of each page.

The website is written by a person with a history of mental health struggles and suicide attempts.  He shares a brief summary of his story on the website, carefully separating fact from opinion.  He describes his own suicide attempt, and his honest and raw thoughts upon realising he failed, “I woke up I don’t know how many hours later – it was still light on the same day … feeling like shit, and being bitterly disappointed I was still alive.” These words took me back to some of my own dark moments.

It’s not at all uncommon for a suicide attempt to fail.  “For every successful suicide attempt, there are 33 unsuccessful ones. For drug overdoses, the ratio is around 40 to 1. In fact, if attempting suicide, there is a much greater chance you’ll end up in hospital alive, with either short or long term heath implications, than dead.”

The author goes on to summarize these facts into one eye-opening statement:  “The first thing you should be aware of if you are trying to kill yourself is the odds are against you.”

On top of the suicide statistics, I also found information on the reality of mental illness.  The writer makes a comment many of us have likely heard before, comparing cancer to depression – both are real, diagnosable illnesses that have the potential to be deadly. He shares some referenced facts to show just how true that statement is, “According to the American Association of Suicidology, major depression is the psychiatric diagnosis most commonly associated with suicide. The risk of suicide in people with major depression is about 20 times that of the general population.”

To compare, the chances of developing and dying from cancer (of any form) in the United States is an average of 22.83% for men, and 19.26% for women. 

This information seems daunting at first glance – as though major depression were a death sentence, much like cancer can be.  Fortunately, the next paragraph presents us with statistics that prove otherwise, “The risk of someone suffering from an untreated major depressive disorder trying to commit suicide is around 1 in 5 (20%). However, the suicide risk among treated patients is around 1 in 1,000 (0.1%).”

So, this confirms that a depressed person has a 20% chance of falling victim to suicide, much like the average person has an approximately 20% chance of dying from cancer. The fortunate difference for those who fall into the former category is when depression is properly treated, the suicide risk factor is greatly diminished. 

The author writes in a way that is completely open: not encouraging, but also not directly discouraging, a person from committing suicide.  He writes in such a way that his readers are forced to take a step back and view suicide objectively; everything is to the point, and nothing is personal. 

While this website does provide information which could be used to end one’s own life, it also offers a refreshingly realistic and matter-of-fact discussion about suicide.  It allows suicide to be seen as the epidemic it is in today’s world, instead of hiding away from the reality we should not dare deny.  Instead of simply saying “don’t do it”, this website informs about everything that goes along with suicide – before, during, and after – to allow a person to really think strongly about what it is they are considering, opening their eyes to what suicide really entails, without attempting to persuade them one way or the other.

Suicide is a taboo subject, and the majority of articles online don’t go into too much detail – especially avoiding descriptions of how a person can successfully commit suicide.  One can assume this is because people are afraid of planting dangerous ideas into already unstable minds.  So, instead, they stick with the “just don’t do it” approach, which seems safe.

What this approach fails to acknowledge, however, is that suicidal people are often so desperate that they are willing to try anything, and simple discouragement is therefore not enough to stop them.  Many suicides (attempted or successful) are done impulsively. If a suicidal person can’t find the information they are looking for at their moment of desperation, they will try whatever they think might work.  While their uneducated attempts will rarely result in death, there is a good chance they will experience other negative side effects – anything from superficial scarring to permanent brain damage.

The website I found today takes an entirely different approach – one I had not seen before, and one that is nothing short of controversial.  It takes the suicidal back to a child-like state in a way; offering explanations for everything from how to get things done, to what to expect in the (statistically likely) event of failure.  Instead of shunning away the notion of suicide, this website embraces it and creates an educating and empowering environment, allowing people to make sound decisions, rather than impulsive ones.

This website challenged my perspective on suicidal discussions and how we should approach the subject as a society.  Simply saying “no” without laying out the reasons why – in an unbiased, educational way – is a sure-fire way to lose the attention of a potential suicide victim.  This website shocked me into wanting to read more, and opened my eyes to the fact that there are many ways to help someone.  Sometimes, we need to shock people into realising what they are considering before we can expect to open their minds enough to truly help them.

For those of you who are interested, the website I have been referring to can be visited at:
http://www.lostallhope.com

Cancer statistics found at:
Lifetime Risk (Percent) of Dying from Cancer by Site and Race/Ethnicity: Males, Total US, 2009-2011 (Table 1.19) and Females, Total US, 2009-2011 (Table 1.20). 2014. Accessed at http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2011/results_merged/topic_lifetime_risk_death.pdf on December 27, 2015.

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4 thoughts on “Suicide: a How-To Guide

  1. This is a great website and the person does a great service to humanity.

    Suicide isn’t an epidemic. Suicide is a basic right. Life isn’t a blessing. I don’t care how much you like your life. That’s not a justified reason to bully people into thinking life is good.

    People only stop suicide for their own selfish reasons.

    We do not choose to be born. We are all forced into existence. At least let us choose to die. Sadly, euthanasia isn’t available for now so we have to make do with sites like these. I’m glad the bullies at suicide prevention organizations hadn’t gotten to it.

    Read the subreddit Sanctioned Suicide. Some suicidal people want help, they want to want to live. Some of us don’t want to live for the same reason you’re not into raising mantis shrimps or exploring the Sahara desert. It doesn’t appeal to us and it’s not worth the effort.

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    • Hey there. Thanks for the comment. I’d like to reply.

      First off, I’ll clarify what I meant by suicide being an epidemic:
      Suicide is a leading cause of death in today’s world, and the rates are rising. “between 1999 and 2010, the number of Americans between the ages of thirty-five and sixty-four who took their own lives rose by almost thirty per cent.”
      (http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-neglected-suicide-epidemic)
      These are facts. Of course, at the end of the day, everyone is responsible for themselves, and they have the right to end their life if that is what they choose to do. I never denied that.

      I disagree when you say, “people only stop suicide for their own selfish reasons.”
      I think I understand where you’re coming from; no one on the outside can truly comprehend a person’s reasons for wanting to end their own life, and anyone who tries to change their mind is brushing off that person’s pain and right to end said pain, likely because they don’t want to live with the aftermath of a suicide. That’s putting their would-be grief before an existence that is so miserable it doesn’t feel worth living. That’s not fair. That’s selfish.

      If this is on the lines of what you mean, i get it. I felt that way before, and I still have moments and days where i revert back to that opinion. But generally, i dont feel that way.

      When someone attempts to prevent a suicide, they are saving a life. Some people stop there. Cool, person is still alive- my work here is done. Right?

      Nah. I dont think it should end there. The main idea is: once the suicide happens, there is zero going back. There is no more chance to potentially help that person. Therapy, medication, human connections and love cannot save a life that has already been lost. However, as long as the person is still breathing, there’s a chance for things to get better.

      Of course, only if they want things to get better.

      Believe it or not, there are people who genuinely want others to improve – to be happy, and to not dream of death outside of nightmares. These people try to stop suicides from happening, and not for selfish reasons.

      The reason i like that website is because it informs. Soundly, without bias or advice. It gives opportunity for thought and reflection – it educates instead of hiding information for fear of it landing in the “wrong hands.”

      If someone truly, 100% wants to die, they will- nothing will stop them.
      However, a large number of people who commit suicide (or attemot to) do not feel this way on an average day- it’s often a bad period, or an impulsive decision.
      This, and that website, are for that population.

      Thank you again for commenting.

      Cheers,
      Becca

      Like

      • Gee, the wide gap between the natalists and the antinatalists! The great philosophical question!

        “The main idea is: once the suicide happens, there is zero going back.” – So what? When you force a person to exist, there is zero going back. When you learn something, there is also zero going back. You can’t un-know things. Things never turn back the way they were no matter what you do, so how suicide is any different?

        “However, as long as the person is still breathing, there’s a chance for things to get better” – There is also a chance for things to get worse.

        If we have a moral obligation to improve people’s lives, then I have the moral obligation to kill you. Life is harmful in and of itself. The state of non-existence has no suffering and no deprivation of pleasure (It’s called the Asymmetry Argument. I suggest you google it for a deeper explanation. If you can’t find a satisfying one I’ll try to find one myself).

        But I won’t do it, because what I perceive as suffering you perceive as pleasure. Therefore, we also have the right to suffer and to self-harm. This is why, no matter how much I think non-existence is good it’s wrong to kill you. That’s why the person who prevents me from shooting myself will get shot himself.

        “If someone truly, 100% wants to die, they will- nothing will stop them.” – No. Most methods are painful and complex. They’re not easy. I practiced jumping off and shooting myself with a gun and it’s no fun. If I had euthanasia available it’d make things easier.

        Suicide is not a negative thing. It’s a rational choice made by people who decide life is not appealing to them. We are obliged to help them if they want to live and obliged to help them die if that’s what they want.

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      • I can see we disagree on a lot of things.

        I’m not here to argue, and I did not write this post to debate the meaning of life and existence.

        We are not obliged to help anyone we do not want to help, and I do not want to attempt to help someone who does not want to be helped.
        I do not want to help a person die, because I simply don’t want to. I am of a different mind, and I do not feel like suicide is the answer in most cases (nor do I think it is a rational choice the majority of the time – though i do not deny it can be).

        Like

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