by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.
Chairman, The National Center for Emotional Wellness
Suicide is now the leading cause of injury deaths. In fact, more Americans commit suicide than die in car crashes (AJPH). In our military, significantly more troops took their own lives last year than were taken by the enemy. Since suicides are frequently unreported, the numbers are believed to be even higher than data indicates.
Living through a challenging experience can feel overwhelming. And it’s not uncommon for us to want to avoid or escape our painful reality.
Thoughts of never waking up or even ending your life may feel like a solution, particularly when you’re emotionally and physically weakened and vulnerable. It may seem like a way to stop all the hurt. However, t’s critically important to understand that taking this action results in the most permanent consequence—a life-ending consequence for you, and incredibly severe life-altering consequences for those who care for you and need you in their lives.
If you’re having frequent thoughts of harming yourself or others, please reach out to someone, such as a doctor, counselor, spiritual leader, relative or a special friend. So many people have told me that at some point they had these thoughts. I can’t tell you how many people in the months and years after their experience were beyond thankful that they didn’t act on them!
I’m not going to tell you that time heals all wounds, because it doesn’t. What time does do is give us the opportunity to work through the normal phases of coping and learn to survive. It’s been said, many times, that there’s no way around a crisis, only through it. What you’re feeling now is normal—uncomfortable and extremely painful—but normal.