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5 Reasons Why Some People Die By Suicide

I worked on a suicide helpline, served in the Police, and overcame feeling suicidal.

By Leon MacfaydenPublished about a year ago 5 min read
Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash

I had stopped taking my meds for PTSD and Depression a week earlier. I didn’t want to deal with the side effects of weight gain and feeling like a zombie anymore. The first six days had been great. I felt like my old self.

But now this.

I was sitting on my back doorstep, looking at the ground. It was dark, and I felt like I had been hit by a bus. I could barely be bothered to move. I could only think of one solution to this anguish.

I tried to kill myself.

Obviously, it failed, but I often spent years in pain and fantasized about death. I planned different methods, routes, and strategies. Yet even in that much pain, something always pulled me back from the brink.

What makes someone hurt so much that they override their instinct for self-preservation and kill themselves?

1. Mental Illness.

If someone is depressed or suffers Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, they are vulnerable to suicidal ideation. It is estimated that around 60% of people who commit suicide have a mood disorder.

Nonetheless, the majority of people who have mental illness never attempt suicide. Only around 2% of people treated as outpatients for depression die by suicide, doubling for inpatients.

I had PTSD from my former job as a police officer. Losing that job due to my illness led to a dark depression. As I stated earlier, I wished I was dead many times but never took the final step. So there is more to suicide than mental illness alone.

2. Hopelessness.

If you have hope, you can endure anything. Total despair robs you of hope and leaves you “knowing” you cannot escape your intolerably painful situation.

If you cannot withstand the emotional pain you are experiencing, it’s only normal for you would think of ways to end it.

After speaking to dozens of suicidal people in my life, I have learned most don’t want to die. They want their current pain to end—a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

How tragic is that?

You’re not weird or crazy just for thinking about suicide. We all have a breaking point.

3. Being A Burden.

When depressed, you can see and feel the pain in those around you. You can feel their desperation to help you and their impotence from not knowing what to do.

Depression and suicidal thoughts create agony for entire circles of family and friends. This can make you feel like a terrible burden on those you love, leading to inappropriate guilt.

Suddenly reality distorts itself. You think everyone would be better off without you. By existing, you are a burden, so if you died, it would be a relief to everyone who cares about you, right?

You couldn’t be more wrong.

Those who are left behind after suicide rarely recover. As well as the usual devastation of grief, losing someone to suicide has unique agony points.

Your loved ones experience stigma. A review found the suicidally bereaved reported higher levels of rejection, shame, stigma, the need to conceal the cause of death, and blaming.

The guilt and shame are insurmountable. Your loved ones will blame themselves for your death. Nothing you say in a suicide note will make any difference. They will always think they could have done more to save you.

Your loved ones may even blame you. They may see you as selfish and never recover from the rage they feel against you — rage that leads to yet more guilt.

Overall, the suicide of a family member leaves a scar on the survivors that never heals. It affects EVERYONE and ripples to larger social networks and society as a whole. You will damage the developmental process of your children.

So never use your family's feelings as a reason for your suicide — because all they want to do is help.

4. Isolation.

If you have family support and a good social structure, you’re much less likely to commit suicide.

I was at my worst when I stopped talking. Terrible thoughts would circle my brain, torturing me all day. Gradually they would get worse as they gained momentum. At that point, my mum, dad, or partner would notice something was wrong, and we would talk.

Walking our dog with my mum every evening saved my life.

Imagine having all that pain bottled up inside without anywhere to go. Particularly after dark when it is just you and your torturer. How long could you survive such intense pain and no one to talk with?

5. The Compounding Effect.

Most people can deal with one tragedy at a time. The breakdown of a relationship, job loss, or family death is primarily manageable when they come individually.

Suicide happens when they all land at once. Most people I have talked to who express suicidal ideation lost a relationship AND a job AND suffered bereavement AND had their house possessed AND suffered another bereavement.

Suddenly, you go from just about keeping your head above water to drowning in a tidal wave of pain. You don’t know where to begin and are overwhelmed.


I managed to hold onto life mainly because I had loved ones that cared about me, and my tragedies were spread out. I lost my job. Then years later, my father died, etc.

Medication had a considerable role to play as well.

Many people are afraid to engage people in a conversation about suicide because they think they will give the other person ideas. This is a myth. You cannot talk someone into suicide.

If you want to find out how someone feels, nothing beats asking them. If they are so depressed that they express suicidal ideation, even minor tasks seem like mountains. Something as simple as offering to find a doctor and drive them there can be a huge benefit.

It’s ok to struggle. Make people feel comfortable discussing their feelings, even if they seem sad or frightening.

Talking about mental health is essential.

If you are in the UK, the Samaritans are a 24-hour listening service, and you can call with any problem, mainly if you are suicidal. Contact them on 116 123 or email [email protected].

In the US, you can call 988, a suicide and crisis lifeline also open 24 hours a day.

In Canada, you can contact a crisis responder to get help by calling 1.833.456.4566.

You can contact Tell lifeline in Japan on 03–5774–0992.

I cannot cover every country, but if you Google “suicide helpline” and include your country, you will find something to help.

These crisis lines are not a long-term solution. But they will get you through a crisis in one piece.


About the Creator

Leon Macfayden

From a police officer to a psychiatric ward and recovery.

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    Leon MacfaydenWritten by Leon Macfayden

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