Losing Self: A Ticking Time Bomb
Four months ago, a twenty-year old young adult was referred to me for he was suicidal. Our conversations got deeper and deeper as I assessed his thought patterns, emotional breakdowns, relational issues and family history of abuse. He was a university student, very intelligent heading to be a scientist. According to him, he had had a bad life of neglect and abuse which he attributed to his depression.
We had psychotherapy and he enjoyed all our sessions, however, the desire to end his life was so strong that he attempted three times and we rescued him and hospitalized him involuntarily. Unfortunately, he escaped the last hospitalization and threw himself from 7th floor of a building and lost his life.
That was quite a blow for me. No matter how much I tried, I could not rescue him. Neither medication nor psychotherapy helped him to survive his misery. I was left with lots of pain and questions.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. The theme chosen to remember the Day is: Suicide Prevention: One World Connected. According to the World Health Organization Report every year, over 800,000 people die from suicide and this roughly corresponds to one death every 40 seconds. They stated that number of lives lost each year through suicide exceeds the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined. It is reported that overall estimation shows during 2012 for each adult who died of suicide there were over 20 others who made suicide attempts. The psychological pain that leads each of these individuals to take their lives is unimaginable. Hence, this year WHO wanted to emphasis the theme which reflects the fact that connectedness is important at several levels if we are to combat suicide.
When that young gentle man took his life two weeks ago, one important question kept on coming to my mind – “Should our past determine our future?” Are we destined to misery if we start off wrong? Or can we choose to take a different path and redeem our life? Behavioral psychologists say that past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior. This means the likelihood that we can act in a predetermined way is high. However, are we doomed to our past?
Today, I want to share with you some of the lessons I have taken from my client’s life. He used to say, “I am not a bad person, but I had a bad life so I have to end it.” As I could understand how deeper his issues were, so I would not dare give him simplistic answers to take it easy or chill. If we have unpleasant or rather difficult life, should we end it? I tried to review what went wrong in his belief, attitude and actions.
First of all, the belief that we cannot change our lives is so detrimental. That is where we need to work on. Difficulty is not impossibility. For many of us, we must work to straighten our life if we have a difficult set up.
Second, there is no short-cut for emotional healing. We need to work on our personal life be it emotional, mind-set, relational or familial issues. If we believe that we are determined by our past, we are lost if that past is unpleasant. Hence, working on our pains and releasing them little by little will facilitate our emotional healings.
While remembering our loved ones who took their lives, my message for strugglers, but who never gave up hope but rather thrived, is that I recognize the burdens you carry with you, but I salute you for resisting the temptation to use them as excuses. Am happy that you decided to use them as stepping stones to transform the way you think about humanity, and set higher standards for yourself and others. To push your life forward, you understood that each of us has responsibilities not only to ourselves, but to one another, and to future generations. My hats off to you!
To those who are dictated by your past, I do understand how hard life predisposed you to be in a twisted path. However, I want to encourage you not to let your past to determine your future. You can be in the driver seat of your life. Choosing our belief system is important. If you constantly say detrimental things to yourself, you will act accordingly. If you excuse yourself for what happened to you, you will stand on your way of happiness. That is why I want you to be aware of the past and use it to be a change agent not to repeat the ugliness of abuse. Success may not come quickly or easily. However, if you strive to do what is right; if you work harder on yourself and dream bigger; if you set an example in your own life and do your part to help meet the challenges of our time, then I am confident that, together, we will continue the never-ending task of development and hence betterment. If you choose a life style that dwells in the unchangeable past, the ticking time bomb is doing its work to blast in due time.
To those who have had a good beginning, I am happy for you that you have been set to fully realize your potential. Use your opportunity to excel. Not many people have had your chances. You may create enabling system for those who struggle.
As WHO recommended, connectedness prevents vulnerability to committing suicide. AWiB has created a networking forum whereby we meet once a month at Hilton to network, connect and develop good friendship. We develop relations challenging our minds. I want people to come and feel at home and use this opportunity to connect. This will protect us from taking emotional suicide and develop our interrelatedness.
Are you connected?