Understanding suicide

Twin Rivers Rehab is a registered, residential treatment centre that has a programme and staffing team that is geared to assisting those who suffer from a dual diagnosis. Many of our clients report suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide because of troubled childhoods, chronic trauma, addiction, and mental health disorders.

Very few of us have not been touched by suicide throughout our lives. Whether we, ourselves, struggled with our mental health and suicidal thoughts or whether we lost a friend or a family member or perhaps a favourite performer such as Robin Williams.

And while it’s all fair and well to try and tell people that “suicide is never the answer”, it doesn’t really help much. This is where mental health awareness becomes crucial in preventing suicide. And this starts by debunking some of the myths and half-truths about suicide that’s been doing the rounds for many years:

Suicidal people want to die

The first myth that needs to be addressed is the fact that those harbouring suicidal thoughts have a deep desire to die. But this is not the case. Those contemplating suicide have rather reached a point where (in their eyes) the cons outweigh the pros of staying alive.

Suicidal vs mental health illnesses

Although this is often the case, there are many times when suicidal thoughts are the ‘side-effects’ following certain life crises or traumatic events. These can include things such as the ending of a relationship, the death of a spouse or a child or maybe an individual who sees no other way out of the grips of addiction other than to end their life.

While challenging and emotional circumstances can leave you so devastated that you may wish to die it does not mean you have a permanent life-threatening mental health disorder, it can be more about a temporary inability to address the crisis, stress, or trauma in a measured fashion on your own. Pride, for example, may get in the way of exacerbating the life event which could be ‘managed’ in a healthier way with the help of a professional. Unfortunately, there are those who do suffer from severe mental illness (sometimes undiagnosed) that can ‘drive’ the sufferer to truly believe that they have no options!

Suicidal thoughts and emotions

Although there might be plenty of disturbing thoughts and emotions involved many reluctantly choose suicide as their only way out. We already touched on those suffering from addiction, but there are many other examples of tragic situations that lead to suicide such as financial ruin, which was common during the pandemic, or being diagnosed with a terminal disease for example.

Suicide and the pandemic

We live in a fast-paced modern world filled with all sorts of stressors that have increased since the pandemic and the onset of the war in Ukraine. Suicide rates have doubled in the last couple of years along with suicidal thoughts and attempted suicides.

To really put this into perspective, cavemen relied on their flight or fight hormone release to save their lives in situations whenever there was an imminent threat. Today, studies have proved that most of us find ourselves in a constant state of fight or flight with things such as financial survival, extreme comparing, relationship challenges, the fear of local crime, and global warming to name but a few!

Identifying suicide

Suicide is perplexing for many of us especially when there is a sudden suicide that no one saw coming! No signs of depression, not much fluctuation in mood, life routine appeared ‘normal’ and no talk of any kind of dissatisfaction or pain! So why did they commit suicide?

We can presume that suicide is ‘easier’ to comprehend when someone was extremely depressed and negative, but it may not be that straight forward especially when family and friends believed that the ‘moods’ would pass or that the clinical professional will sort it all out!

Depression therapy

We must acknowledge that depressed people do NOT pretend to be depressed, in some cases, they pretend to be happy which can be difficult for a therapist to see past. Therapists are not mind-readers or have any form of superpower but can assist depressed clients who respond well to Cognitive-Behavioural-Therapy (CBT) and usually some form of anti-depressant, mood-stabilizing medication. From a therapist’s perspective, it’s more about helping the client to ‘manage’ known elements that impact their mental health and NOT at all about a cure!

Unfortunately, there are many people who strongly believe that mental health is not about them but about everyone else! The more we acknowledge our own mental health the more we can perhaps recognise it in others or at least take an interest in the minefield known as mental health.

If you would like to know more about how Twin Rivers can assist clients suffering from suicidal thoughts or those who have attempted suicide then please contact us and speak to a counsellor.

+27(0) 44 533 6821

+27(0) 828 633 159

Suicide Crisis Line
Hours: Available 24 hours. Languages: All 11 official languages of South Africa are supported.
0800 567 567