Cry of Pain – Understanding Suicide

“Suicide is the worst possible death on friends and family.” It leaves everything unanswered and there’s no closure. Suicide has an edge that other forms of death don’t.” Steve Fugate, NBC, Bay Area.

“Why did they do it?” “How could they do this?” “Why did they not see there was help available?” “Why?”. Suicide is often tragic puzzle to be solved by family and friends, and by mental health professionals involved with someone who has committed or attempted suicide.

Understanding suicidal thoughts and behaviour is to view them as a “cry of pain”. Suicide comes out of mental anguish and unbearable pain. A reaction to overwhelming stresses that arise from the environment, or from the uncontrollability of the mental anguish of itself. As they become more and more convinced that they have failed, or that they have been rejected or abandoned, the anger becomes mixed with hopelessness and despair. The person feels they have run out of solutions to problems that seem unpreventable, intolerably painful, and never-ending. Offers of help are rejected or misinterpreted. The person feels more isolated, increasing his or her feelings of anger and hopelessness, and begins to seek substitute ways of escape the unbearable pain. A tunnel vision ensues, in which normal escape routes are not noticed, only death will end the pain!

Suicide is a breakdown in our meaning system that leads to a profound state of negativism, pessimism, nothingness and emptiness. The will to live has become a will to die. Most of the times, suicide comes right out of the blue with no warning at all. Even if the deceased has been depressed, even if they have talked of suicide, actual death often comes as a huge shock. Working with suicidal people and their families, we can estimate that for every person who commit suicide there will be at least six who are deeply affected, the bereaved family, friends and close workmates. For the survivors enormous problems follow in aftermath of such a death.

And what can I as a mental health professional provide? I can’t answer all questions. But I help to bring hope to those in despair. I offer support. I help my clients to see that perhaps some of their problems are solvable. Hep them gain some distance from the constant propaganda of their mind that would convince them they are a failure. Help them balance between acceptance and change. I allow my client to see their moods as normal. I encourage them reframe the question of, “How can I make everything different?” to, “How can I take care of myself right now?”. I encourage client to be gentle with themselves.

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heav’n of Hell or a Hell of Heav’n.” -John Milton


Williams, M. (n.d.). Cry of pain: Understanding suicide and the suicidal mind.