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.