Guns aren't lawful;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
Dorothy Parker 1893-1967: 'Resume' (1937)
Whatever that haunting song from M*A*S*H may have claimed, suicide is not painless. The topic of suicide seems particularly gruesome or morbid, because it is meant to be. Suicide is not a fool-proof or painless proposition. The fact is that suicides fail and even when they succeed, it may not be at all like what you had imagined.
Even the Best Planned Suicide Can Fail
The New England Journal of Medicine (Feb 22, 2001, Vol. 344, No. 8) dealing with physician assisted suicide shows that even with expert medical advice, things can and do go wrong. The study was conducted in the
, where euthanasia is legal. Some of the statistics reported: Netherlands
- In 16% of cases where patients tried to kill themselves with drugs prescribed by a doctor, the medication did not work as expected.
- Technical problems or unexpected side effects occurred 7% of the time.
- Problems occurred so often that in 18% of cases a doctor had to intervene to ensure death.
- Even when a doctor performed the procedure, patients took longer to die than expected or awoke from a drug-induced coma that was meant to be fatal in 6% of cases.
If a physician can't pull off a perfect suicide, what are the odds that you will?
Suicide is Not Pretty
Assuming your suicide does go as planned, what do you imagine will be the scene left behind? Do you have glamorous fantasies of being found with a peaceful smile upon your face? Consider the following:
- When you die, you lose control of your bodily functions. To put it nicely, you defecate and urinate on yourself.
- If you have taken an overdose, you may vomit before you become unconscious.
- Violent forms of suicide such as cutting ones wrists, hanging or gunshots leave a very grisly task for whoever has to clean up afterwards.
- Victims of strangulation and hanging will be bloated and purple.
- Your chosen method of self-annihilation may present a safety hazard to whoever finds you.
The High Cost of Living
So what are the consequences if you survive a suicide attempt?
The best is that you will live to discover the truth about depression: that it really is a temporary condition. Circumstances change and medications work. The old saying that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem is sage advice. When the blinders of depression are lifted you see very clearly how true this is.
The worst result of a failed suicide is that you will be worse off than you were before. Consider these facts:
- If your brain goes without an oxygen supply for more than about three minutes, you will suffer permanent brain damage.
- Gunshot wounds that miss will leave you with permanent disfigurement and disability.
- Overdoses on many substances will leave you with damage to kidneys and liver.
- People who have swallowed caustic substances like lye can survive with severe burns to their GI tract.
- Just about all suicide methods have the risk of severe, possibly prolonged pain if things go awry.
The Hurt Doesn't Go Away After Suicide
Perhaps the most common reason people commit suicide is to stop the pain they are feeling inside. The thing is, the pain doesn't go away. It gets transferred to those you love. Your parents, your spouse or significant other, your kids, your friends, and acquaintances… Everybody you know is touched to some extent by suicide. Grief is one of the strongest emotions a person can feel. Do you really want to make your loved ones feel the sort of pain you are feeling? Think about it. If you are convinced that people will be better off without you, you are dead wrong.
It's Your Choice
This article is not meant to be an all-inclusive list of reasons why you should not take your own life, but is meant to give you a starting point in really thinking about what it is that you are considering. If you are reading this, then you are an intelligent person who is capable of making informed choices about where you want your life to go. Do you really want your life to end? Or just the pain? Depression is a treatable illness. If what you really want is relief from your depression then you owe it to yourself to exhaust all of your treatment options before choosing the final solution of death.
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