The single most important thing I ever learned about suicide, I learned from my mother. I was badly depressed as a teenager and told her, shaking, that I didn't want to live if it meant being in so much pain.
She listened, and was very calm as she said...
If this were going to last forever, of course you wouldn't want to live. But it won't last forever. Nothing does, sweetheart.
I've thought a lot about that day, and the way she was so calm. It must have been so hard for her, but she was so calm. And she was right - my depression did go away, eventually. She understood that suicide was an impulsive behavior - and the most important thing was to fight that impulse and wait it out.
Now I use my mother's words almost every day with my patients. Strong emotions make it hard to remember when you didn't feel that way. But learning how to pay attention to how moods change helps you remember.
It's okay to think about suicide when you're in a lot of pain. But have any of your feelings ever lasted forever?
The most amazing thing is hearing those same words from my patients, as they help others hold on in times of terrible pain.
It's okay to be sad. But you won't be sad forever.
You didn't know it, Mom, but you saved a lot of people's lives that day!