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Why does suicide ever seem like a good idea?

By Stpehen C. Schultz

It was a Thursday afternoon and I was sitting in a seat at 36,000 feet above the earth. While I have made the trip to Atlanta from West to East many times, the trip coming home always seems to take forever. I put down my novel and tipped my head back against the seat. The stale air from the little nozzle overhead blew in my face. I closed my eyes and thought sleep would help the time pass. I was wrong...sleep never came.

I was thinking about my time in Atlanta. I was there with Shawn Brooks, the Executive Director of Oxbow Academy. We were in Atlanta providing a workshop to clinicians on the struggles teens face now days around the development of healthy sexuality. It was a good workshop that covered topics from abuse, to trauma to ASD. It was actually a fun and a productive trip.


I reached under the seat and pulled my carry-on up onto my lap. I reached in and slid out my I-Pad. Since sleep was not an option, I thought I might as well check emails and catch up on some communications. I logged into my email and there was a message from an Educational Consultant friend of mine. The subject line read, "Sad News". My heart skipped a beat. When I opened the message, I was saddened to read that the 24 year old son of another friend and Educational Consultant had taken his own life. This time my heart sank and immediately I said a short prayer for my friend and her husband. I knew the emotions would be raw and the thoughts of emails distant in their time of sorrow and pain, but I sent off a short message expressing that my thoughts and prayers were with them.

The flight did not seem to go faster. I personally knew this young man and I was aware of some of his struggles in life. From my life's perspective, none of the concerns he was struggling with seemed to be insurmountable. But from his life perspective, suicide must have seemed like the best option. But, why? What is the thought process one goes through to reach that conclusion? Is there any thought about the effect on family? Is there any thought about the effect on the person who finds them? Is there any thought about the effect on friends?

The questions seem to be endless. The acute pain of loosing a loved one will fade over time to a nagging dullness, only to be resurrected by a sound or a smell or a memory that races into consciousness out of nowhere. Approximately a year ago, this same thing happened to another dear friend and colleague. I wrote a blog post then as well. The CDC has recently reported that thoughts of suicide amongst teens is on the rise. No matter how many times I am confronted with the pain of someone taking their own life, the one lingering question is always, "Why does suicide ever seem like a good answer?"

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