Understanding Suicide

woman jumping from window

Suicide[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ritten in the days following the death of film director Tony Scott, this is the most “human” piece on suicide I’ve come across. Please read this – you never know when you might need the information it provides.

Psychiatrist: I hate suicide but also understand it – CNN.com.

Whitby Shores, Whitby, Ontario

By Aisha Ashraf

An autistic Irish immigrant in a cross-cultural marriage, Aisha Ashraf is the archetypal outlander, writing to root herself through place and perspective. Published in The Rumpus, The Maine Review, River Teeth, HuffPost and elsewhere, her work explores the legacy of trauma, the nature of being an outsider and the narrow confines of belonging. She currently lives in Canada.


  1. Thank you so much for posting this article–what a moving post! I agree that it is one of the most human articles I’ve seen as well–expressing both sympathy and understanding for both those struggling with suicide and those family members. The final tip about increased anxiety was the one that hit me the most as I struggle with a severe anxiety disorder–and it’s a good reminder that anxiety can be just as dangerous as depression. Thank you for fighting the stigma related to mental illness.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment Nicole. That final part hit home with me too, it was a relief to see it given legitimacy in black and white by a qualified professional; somehow, experiencing it personally still doesn’t make one feel authoritative about it… but I guess that’s the nature of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.

  2. A thought provoking article. In my early days of blogging I corresponded with someone who was on the edge. He admitted he had tried to commit suicide as he was so ashamed of pretending to his wife he had a job when he’d been made redundant. He could not face the shame and the deceit. I often wonder what actually happened to him as his blog disappeared and he no longer responds to my emails. He was a great inspiration to me as he was great writer…berhaps his idea of suicide was fictional and I was a character in his book. I often joked about this, but still wonder what happened to him, nonetheless.

  3. Someone very dear to me suffers from anxiety and depression, so the article was illuminating. Thankfully they have responded to low dose medication, but you always wonder. I especially liked the ending, vigilance is warranted.

    1. On the farm where I grew up we kept shotguns in the cloakroom, propped against the wall. As a teenager, I was always grateful I didn’t live in a house that contained guns anymore; so quick and final. When my thoughts grew black my mind turned to acts of self-destruction. Once the seed was planted, it burrowed and grew, taunting me with my inaction until I was driven to do something. Impulsivity stepped in where courage was lacking. The article described this well; the increasing conflict/anxiety that precludes a self-destructive act.
      For many who’ve experienced depression or live with a mood or personality disorder, negative thoughts are a given. For me, those thoughts still return, even now, but without their former intensity. Somehow, I can dismiss them more easily. I now have four very good reasons to hang on – though sometimes skewed thinking makes it seem kinder to remove my flawed self from their existence.
      I’ve read that it’s a patten of thinking, a habit, nothing more. Those thoughts don’t reflect my real feelings, they’re just a playlist my mind runs to when I’m overwhelmed, I can tell myself this, but impulsivity scorns my common-sense, labelling it procrastination or lack of courage and pushes for action. Coupled with the bleak and weary outlook from an extended period of depression, it’s very hard to ignore.
      Talk, talk, talk, an absence of judgement and vigilance are a supporters greatest weapons against suicide.

      1. I agree. Having stepped into that darkening tunnel once or twice – the first time when I was seventeen years old – I know that vigilance is key. You have to keep reminding yourself that it just doesn’t make sense and that you have so many things to live for. My husband committed suicide, and I know now that I could have done more to prevent it if only I had known.

        1. I’m so sorry to hear that. What a terrible weight to have carried with you all these years, on top of your own troubles. We’re all the product of our experiences, but rather than darken our hearts I hope they teach us wisdom – in that way they won’t have been for naught. Much love and hugs winging their way from here to Kingston xxx

          1. Thank you so much from Kingston, where flood waters are flowing! Tropical Storm Isaac passed us by but we are just feeling its effects now – torrential rain and wind too… I think these experiences do teach you wisdom. I have learnt that human beings are fragile and that we all need support and protection at some point – or points – in our lives. Thanks for the love… the same to you!

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