We’ve all heard the news by now that Robin Williams, an actor and comedian who was about as universally loved as one can get, took his own life recently. While I don’t want to write specifically about Robin (I didn’t know the man and am not even going to begin to speculate about what he was going through), I have been asked many questions about suicide, in general, and have coached several people through surviving a partner’s suicide (it’s a lot more common than one might think). So, I thought this was a good time to share my perspective on this topic.
Why do people commit suicide?
I want to be clear that I am not talking about people who attempt to commit suicide, as a cry for help (or threaten to commit suicide as a manipulative tactic). I’m in no way diminishing their pain, but there’s a real difference between someone who is crying out in pain, but doesn’t actually want to die, and someone who actually orchestrates their own transition. The two manifestations are profoundly different, in that one represents the actual decision to end of our physical experience and the other doesn’t.
There is no one reason that people end their lives. It’s a profoundly personal experience and there are as many reasons as there are people. It cannot even be said that all suicide is committed in a state of deep despair, although those are the cases that we’ll be focusing on today (this IS the most prevalent reason, but there are exceptions).
What can be said, however, is that no death, not even one that comes by way of suicide, is a mistake. It is never untimely. It is never “too soon”. It is never wrong. Every transition, no matter how it happens, comes in perfect timing, and with the agreement of our higher selves. In that sense, every death is a suicide.
It’s important to note that if someone, in their human form, has decided that they want to die and tries to take their own life before it is their actual time (before their WHOLE being agrees), the attempt will be unsuccessful. They will stop themselves or be stopped by someone. If a person does actually transition (die), they were always going to do so. The suicide was simply the delivery method of the manifestation.
I know this is hard to hear. We like to think of death as a horrible thing, as a failure to live. But it isn’t. It’s no different than deciding to go off to college, or moving to Florida. It’s a new chapter in an infinite existence. Some cultures think of every death as a birth on the “other side”, with a loving family welcoming the newborn spirit into their world. For me, this metaphor isn’t really accurate, because it implies that we are either here or there (we’re actually always there), it does bring a valuable shift in perspective on the whole death thingy.
Is suicide a release from suffering?
This is a question I get quite often – both from those whose loved ones have killed themselves (if it’s a release from suffering, it’s easier to accept) and from people contemplating suicide (sometimes asking for permission to go through with it, which neither I or anyone else can give). And in some sense, I have to say that all death is a release of resistance. But here’s the thing (and the main message of everything I teach): we do not have to die to stop suffering. The belief that we do, however, can keep us in a state of suffering until we die.
Death is also not a result of resistance, as in, if you have too much of it you’ll die. If that were true, anyone sufficiently miserable would croak, while only the happy would stick around. Clearly, that’s not true. Death is not a punishment for failing to be happy.
The idea that someone who has killed himself was in a great deal of pain (which is often the case, to be fair) does help many people make sense of what they consider to be a tragedy. At least they’re in a better place. This same principle applies to those who have died of illness. We can forgive them for leaving if they were having a really bad time while they were here. When there wasn’t any clear suffering, however, or when we don’t judge that suffering to have been sufficient (“what the hell did HE have to be so sad about??”), we suddenly find ourselves at a loss. If only they had sought treatment, had talked to the right therapist, had gotten on the right drugs. Why did this person end their life? Did they not realize that they had so much to live for (from our point of view)? And, more importantly, was there anything WE could have done to prevent this?
Like I said, I’ve had the opportunity to coach several people through the “loss” of a loved one through suicide. As part of that process, the transitioned party (“dead” person) often made contact during our coaching sessions (and no, this no longer freaks me out). So, I’ve had the chance to have a conversation with those who’ve actually gone through this experience first-hand. There’s a few things they’d like us to know:
It’s never your fault
No matter who this person was to you, no matter if you had an argument the day before they left, their suicide was in NO WAY your fault. Not even indirectly. Suicide (as all death) is a profoundly selfish act. It has NOTHING to do with anyone else. Ever. Even if the person claims they are feeling bad because of their partner (in a last ditch attempt at manipulation), it still isn’t about the partner. Ever. This doesn’t mean that you should go around telling people to go ahead and off themselves, or that you have no responsibility for what you say or do (that’s actually the only thing you have responsibility for). But you cannot prevent someone from dying. You can participate in their continuation of life (as in, when you are inspired to step in and stop someone from killing themselves. You are then participating in their manifestation, which was never going to include death), but you cannot control when and if someone dies. Sorry doctors. Not even you.
Again, this is hard for many people to hear. We like to think we can control everything, even death. We like to keep it at bay as long as possible, often in painful ways. But considering that we are all going to die (yep, 100% of us), we don’t seem to be doing so well with that battle. Death comes when the timing is right and it does NOT come UNTIL the timing is right. We can’t stop death from occurring. But we can ruin our lives worrying about it.
If you have a loved one who has committed suicide, do not, even for a second, blame yourself. In the cases I’ve been involved in, this was the first message the departed vehemently wanted to convey: “It’s not your fault. It had nothing to do with you. There was nothing you could’ve done to prevent this.”
They were always going to die
I can’t say this enough: your loved one was always going to die when they did. The fact that it happened by their own hand is kind of irrelevant in terms of their transition. It is relevant only in that it made you feel certain things that a different death wouldn’t have. There is a difference between dying by “accident” and dying by one’s own hand. People react very differently to each. And while another person’s death is never your manifestation (you don’t have that kind of power. No one does. You can’t manifest in their reality), the way you experienced that death is all yours.
Public deaths, such as those of celebrities or those who are widely reported in the news, are always part of a mass manifestation. Again, the crowd did not cause the death, but every person who experienced it manifested that experience for a reason. If you are not a match to that experience, you won’t even hear about it. But if you do participate in a transition, the reaction you had to it is what you want to pay attention to.
They weren’t thinking of you
People often ask me how someone who had children could possibly commit suicide. How could they leave their children and loved ones behind? How could they be so cruel? Here’s the thing: They weren’t thinking about you, I promise. If they had been thinking of you, they couldn’t have gone through with it.
Suicide, and I do have to generalize a bit here, occurs in a kind of bubble. Depression is a self-centered state, in that it draws one inward. It is designed to. Since depression is so often the result of focusing way too much on the outside world and how one can’t control it (and the despair that comes from believing that ones’ own well-being is dependent on that outside, uncontrollable world), depression will cause us to block out that world and focus completely on ourselves, giving us the chance to figure out that the outside world doesn’t matter, doesn’t have nearly as much power over us as we thought it did, and that we do have control over what really matters – ourselves.
When depression spirals into suicide, however, it usually culminates in a moment of what might call clarity – when the outside world cannot be blocked out, won’t leave us alone, or can’t be made not to matter, one might suddenly come to the conclusion that there is only one solution (this is never actually true). In that moment of clarity, that solution will actually bring relief. In this state, the state in which one not only decides to kill oneself but actually goes through with it, there is no room for thoughts of one’s family. In fact, thinking of how one’s death will affect loved ones would make the action of suicide impossible.
Your loved one wasn’t thinking of you, not in the way you might hope they were. You likely weren’t even on their radar in that moment, which is also why those who kill themselves often don’t give much thought to who will find them. This can seem cruel to those left behind, but when you understand that the state of severe depression actually shuts down thoughts of others, it often explains a great deal.
You will get through this and you will be stronger for it
I’ve written a whole post on grieving and helping others through grief. I know, in this work we talk incessantly about feeling better. The part that a lot of people like to gloss over though, is that you have to first acknowledge where you are, how you currently feel. And you are completely entitled to feel the way you do. If you’re in grief, there’s no point in denying it. Just feel what you are feeling. There can be tremendous relief in owning your feelings, which will actually put you on the road to recovery much faster than trying desperately to get happy again. So, don’t try to rush through the grieving process because you think you ought to be happy and shiny.
Your emotions are not wrong. The sadness and anger you’ll be experiencing are completely normal and even helpful. Remember that anger pulls you out of sadness, but only if it’s directed outward (anger directed inward will lead to depression). And yes, you can be angry with the dead. They don’t mind, trust me on that. This is the time to be totally selfish. Surrender to your emotions and you will get through them much faster than if you fight them.
And the day will come when you do actually feel better. You’ll also notice that as a result of your experience, you’ll be stronger. You’ll be more vibrationally steady. You’ll care less about petty shit and more about the big picture. You may have even made a shift large enough to cause a major life change – one more aligned with your passions. When this happens, for God’s sake, don’t feel guilty. You’re not only allowed to go on and thrive after someone has died, it’s kind of stupid not to. Your suffering will not bring the person back (not that they actually went anywhere), and it will not help anyone else. All you can do is either ruin your own life or live it to the fullest. Do you really think that the death of another is sufficient justification to give up your own? Never mind if that’s what they would’ve wanted, is that what YOU want??
Learn to set boundaries
It’s kind of a sad fact, but death and particularly suicide tends to bring out the vultures in certain families. Family and friends whom you haven’t seen in years suddenly drop by (often unannounced) to “help”, bring food, and gawk at the carnage. Now, make no mistake, there will be those who will actually bring you comfort. But if someone is making you uncomfortable in your grief, do not hesitate to tell them to go away (or to fuck off). Even if they mean well, if you don’t want them there that has to take precedence. You do not have to babysit anyone through your grief.
And feel free to enlist a good friend of family member who gets it to help you keep the vultures away (the fuck off shield). Setting these kinds of boundaries will not only feel great (truly, there’s immeasurable relief in telling some needy cousin who insists on making the whole affair about them and their drama to go and do pornographic things to themselves), but you’ll actually feel stronger in the moment.
Do whatever you need to do to feel relief. If that means being alone, eating tons of ice cream and watching old movies that make you cry, so be it. After a while, you may want to spend time with people, but only certain people. Honor that. You do not (ever) have to hang out with anyone out of obligation. The grieving process can actually help us (by giving us permission) to become much more discerning.
They are not gone
And finally, those who have crossed over always want us to know that they are not gone. They really haven’t gone anywhere. They’re still here, having an expanded experience, still very much involved in what we’re doing. And we can connect with them any time we like.
This is no different for those who have transitioned through suicide. They are not being punished, are not suffering as a result of their actions. Again, death was always going to happen when it did (we don’t actually have enough information from our human perspective to make the decision on when to die, and can’t really comprehend that timing fully), so there are no repercussions for having gone out in that way.
There is, however, a recognition that life did not have to be painful. There is no regret on the other side, but there is the strong message that we, those who are currently playing the game, can have so much more fun than we’re having. It’s like this: we all get on the ride. Some of us bitch and complain the whole time, while others throw their hands up in the air and go “Weeeeee!” At some point, the ride is over and we get out. Will we get punished for not choosing to enjoy the ride? No. If one wants to look at it this way, one could say that not having enjoyed the ride was punishment enough. Although, it’s not so much punitive as simple cause and effect. We choose to bitch and complain or focus on what we don’t want, or believe that we have no control but need to, or etc., etc., etc., and therefore we don’t feel the joy we could. The message that those who have departed are shouting at us is most often: “Enjoy the freaking ride already!”
To those who are suicidal
I’d like to end this post on suicide with a message to those who are currently contemplating such an action (or those who work with someone in this position). I know you’re out there, and I know that some of you read my blog. Whether you’re seriously contemplating leaving or are just pondering it as a possibility, this message is for you.
No, death is not a bad thing. And yes, it can be a release from pain. I won’t be so condescending as to lie to you about that. But, you do not need to die to let go of your suffering. In fact, if you are still here, right now, you’re likely not yet ready to die (if you were ready, you’d just die). So, as long as you’re here, you have a reason to be here, and believe me when I say this to you with all sincerity: You have no idea how good your life can get. And yes, I know what I’m talking about.
When I was 15 years old, I tried to kill myself. I wasn’t crying out for help, I really wanted to die. I’d made the decision, I was in that calm space where I felt like I was finally going to be ok. I was going to end the pain. And then, my inner being showed me an image of my mom at my gravesite, grieving for me. I’d already taken the pills. I was already getting sleepy. In that moment, when I was shown the one image that would make me change my mind, I made the decision to keep on living for her (it would be several years before I’d finally decide to live for me). I called my mom and she took me to the hospital where they pumped my stomach.
It did take some time, I won’t lie to you, and it wasn’t easy. My vibration wouldn’t allow anyone to help me, so even when I reached out to teachers, counselors and a psychiatrist, I was turned away. I had a lot of anger to release, anger that I had only ever directed at myself. I started to fight and claw my out of my own personal hell hole. By the time I graduated from high school two years later, I was hopeful about the future. There was still pain, but it wasn’t the same. The despair had lifted. The heaviness was bearable. And it continued to get better. Now, I have a life that I couldn’t have begun to imagine back then. I’m living my purpose. And I promise you, I’m not special. I wasn’t born under a lucky star. I’m just someone who kept on fighting, who kept on going, who wouldn’t give up. That voice inside of me nearly got drowned out, but in my darkest moment, I heard it. It was there for me and continues to be to this day. Just as your inner voice is there for you.
You have no idea the grand purpose you came here for. You are a unique aspect of the divine. NO ONE in the whole Universe is exactly like you, has the perspective that you have to offer, or has the value that you have to give. You are not here to suffer or be in pain. You are not here to learn some lessons, to attune for past lives, or to play in someone else’s game. You are powerful beyond comprehension. You’re like a racehorse that hasn’t been allowed to run. That’s what all that pain is about. And when you figure out that the latch on your cage has been on the inside all along, when you figure out how to release it and burst out of that stall and unleash your full power, you won’t look back. You’ll breathe in life; you’ll devour it; you’ll cherish it; you’ll celebrate it. If you knew what was in store for you, you wouldn’t even consider giving up, so don’t.
I’m not telling you not to die. I’m telling you that while you’re here, go ahead and live. And if it helps, when you’re not sure if you can keep going, imagine that I’m there with you, giving you the smooshiest hug of your life, KNOWING with every fiber of my being that you can do this, that you are a Master at this, and helping you to remember your power. Because goddammit when you find it, the world had better watch out.