Why Would Someone Commit Suicide?

The Conventional Answer

I am in a unique position to answer this question, because, I tried it.

I could tell you that I had low levels of serotonin.

I could tell you that I was depressed.

I could tell you that I become worse with drugs & alcohol.

I could tell you that I developed horrible cognitive patterns.

I could tell you that I failed out of college.

I don’t think that any of those, or even all five, are the complete reason why.

The Philosophical Dilemma

Think of it this way: we don’t know the reason why we exist.

We try to understand; we try to assign meaning to life; we tell ourselves stories so that life makes sense. We will never fully comprehend our own existence. If we are lucky, we will gain some wisdom and meaning in life.

Just as we’ll never fully wrap our heads around life, we’ll never fully wrap our heads around why one would end life. 

There are just too many unseen factors in the equation. If you are lucky – like me – you or your loved one will not have completed their attempt, and then they will have plenty of time to examine and learn from it.

That basically happens … almost never. If the suicide is completed, the family is left scrambling to piece together a half a box of puzzle pieces. If the attempt is incomplete, the subject will often struggle with mental health issues for the rest of their life.

How Many People Are We Talking About?

Every seventeen minutes someone in the United States commits suicide. Tens of thousands of families left asking each other “Why?” every year.

Each and every single one of these cases is related, but unique. They share certain general characteristics, however misguided those may be, such as feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

You might be able to take most of those cases and neatly categorize them with five bullet points as I did above. That would make you feel safe. You could say to yourself, ‘Oh, he did it because he went off of his medication.’

Except, if it were that simple, why haven’t we solved the problem? The opposite is true; suicide numbers rise every year.

There Is No Short Answer For “Why”

We search for ‘the reason why’ so we can be at peace, so we can understand, so we can feel better about ourselves as parents and friends, so we can help others in need.

We want to prevent this from happening again, but we can’t. But, if we hastily categorize each case with a ‘why’, if we think that we’ve found the answer, then we are able to move on. We can say to ourselves:

As long as I don’t do [ his or her why ] I’ll be safe.

I was guilty of this for a long time too. I did some therapy and said to myself, ‘I know why.‘ Then I moved on.

Except, I started this blog, and I realized that I only knew part of my own story. That’s after more than ten years of living depression free.

Just as my perspective today is different than it was five years ago, so too will it change five or ten years from now. Ask me again then, and I will have some more insight.

We must not move on. We must continue to examine. We have so much more to learn. We must keep asking ‘Why?’

It gets a little bit less painful every time. I promise.

14 thoughts

  1. I had a friend who tried to take his life several times. One day I expect that he will succeed. He is my best friend and such an amazingly funny, intelligent, caring person. But he is a person who wears a mask (a metaphorical one not a literal one) because on the inside he feels quite the opposite. I find it very hard to reconcile the person I know on the outside with the person he says he is on the inside. It is truly heartbreaking. No matter how much we love him and how much people care, sometimes it feels that person on the inside can never be reached by any of us.
    So you are right, we must never stop asking why. But we must also never stop letting people know how much they mean to us and hope that one day, knowing that, might be the difference between them choosing to stay here with us and not taking their lives.
    You are very courageous and you will offer hope to those in the dark.
    Thank you
    Lisa

    1. Well Lisa, I think it’s important to remember that they are both two parts of the same person, and also that, there is only so much you can do. Simply letting him know that you are there to listen, if he is ever ready, is a lot.
      I hope that one day, he learns that he doesn’t need his mask.

  2. This is a question that has no answer.
    There isn’t a singular reason why people attempt and commit suicide.
    Each case is unique.
    Each instance fits in to the context of that person’s life.
    The only thing one can do is try to understand on an individual level.

    1. Hi Mick. Thanks for stopping by & commenting and also, I like your site.
      You’re 100% correct, there are infinite ways to answer this question. Even though some generalities may apply.
      It’s the first question that everyone asks after it happens to somebody they know.
      It’s also a question that we need to keep asking because it keeps happening.
      It’s very important to realize that there is no ‘canned’ answer. There’s nothing the newscasters can sum up in 30 seconds to make us feel safer that it wasn’t our friend or relative.

  3. The question “Why?”, there’s no answer which explains everything. People’s lives are complicated and their feelings are intricate. A person looking happy can be so unhappy in the inside, and no one can guess. So each case is unique.
    And I think people who have close friends with whom they feel comfortable to share their thoughts have less chances to commit a suicide than who feel alone.
    Anyway living is a wonderful thing! And there are always people who care!
    Good luck! And thanks for sharing.

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