Obligation to prevent suicide?

Discussion in 'Suicidal Thoughts and Feelings' started by Ryguy, Sep 29, 2010.

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  1. Ryguy

    Ryguy New Member

    I was planning on providing some background information, but I think a single sentence summary is sufficient. My close friend, "Mr. X" is severely depressed, and has alluded to suicide on many occasions. I have offered him all the support I can, but after hearing him repeatedly reference ending his life, I am unsure where my priorities should lie.

    Do I have an obligation to protect his life against his wishes? Know that I have personally dealt with suicidal contemplations in the past, and having surmounted those difficulties, would recite endless volumes of inspirational messages to convince my friend to spare his life. Life of any kind is infinitely valuable, but if in the case that he bids me goodbye through some verbal act, should I take further action by involving others? Is it more noble to prolong what he claims to be his miserable existence, or allow him the freedom of choice. The way Ive phrased my dilemma certainly makes option B sound more desirable. I'm really in a mental bind here. I certainly wouldn't want my own decision making abilities to be relinquished, but conversely, I couldn't bare to lose a close friend.

    I realize that saving his life is in his best interest, but who am I to make his decisions? Am I missing some angle? Perhaps I should treat his ailment as more of a disorder than the norm. That would at least allow me to rationalize and treat his depression as something inhibiting his abilities to think clearly, which I suppose is true to some extent. But he's really quite intelligent, and has a few strong, albeit naive arguments supporting suicide. The issue here is whether or not depression/ anxiety inhibits judgment to such an extreme that decisions no longer represent the true thoughts and feelings of the individual. When my depression was at its worst, my thoughts werent necessarily saturated with clarity, but I think they represented who I truly am/was. Though, I never attempted to end my life. I feel like I'm possibly over-complicating things. Thoughts would be appreciated.
  2. DannyBoy

    DannyBoy Well-Known Member

    I think the best thing you can do is just talk to him a lot, especially about your experiences.

    I think depression puts a cloud over you and changes who you are a little bit. It's always showing you the negative side of life.
  3. dreams4life

    dreams4life Well-Known Member

    I agree that you should talk to him about your problems. Help him understand that people go through tough times. You can share stories or videos of those who struggle like Pianist Liu Wei (no arms: yet plays piano) or Nick Vujicic (no arms or legs). One way is to help him understand that the people around are all suffering one way or other. So he should fight till the end.
  4. Domo

    Domo Well-Known Member

    Yes, it does go to that extreme, therfore you should do everything you can to stop him, if that means getting other people involved, then do so.
  5. mulberrypie

    mulberrypie Well-Known Member

    This is a tough question, and one i've thought of a lot since I found this site and read so many different stories.

    I believe we hold a moral responsibility to prevent others from harming themselves. The only time I, personally, would find suicide acceptable is if the person were in excruciating and incurable physical pain that can't be treated at all. But what makes unrelenting emotional pain anymore tolerable than physical pain? It’s a value judgement, which is why I'm sometimes conflicted about this too. Most (if not all) of the cases here boil down to a matter of perspective. I've noticed that it’s usually not the situation in and of itself, it’s how the person focuses on and amplifies the bad aspects of their life, while diluting if not completely invalidating the good. Sometimes, when a person is so convinced they are thinking rationally and believe there is no other way out, they will withdraw when you try to encourage them or ask them to seek help. I’m not sure if this is the case with your friend, but if you think this is happening, make sure to ease off so he doesn't push you away completely. He needs your support. I think the best thing you can do is simply be there for your friend. listen, comfort, console, and encourage him to seek professional help
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 30, 2010
  6. icewolf

    icewolf Member

    In my experience being in a depressive state changes how you think slightly.

    But, in a suicidal state, you become a completely different person.

    So, if mr X is just moaning and being dramatic, then I think your obligation is not to talk him out of it, but to try and cheer him up, take his mind off negative things.

    If, however he is in a suicidal state and seems like a different person to you, I think you owe him one intervention. Parents, doctors, the works. when I went seriously suicidal I remember they had to force me to get help.

    After an intervention he can contrast it for himself: How his thoughts were while breing suicidal, and after getting fixed up a little.

    After that it becomes his own choice. He should then know from experience that he cant trust his own thoughts while he is suicidal. Then it's up to him whether he wants to hang on in a life of misery like the rest of us depressed ppl or not.
  7. mulberrypie

    mulberrypie Well-Known Member

  8. Ryguy

    Ryguy New Member

    This is precisely what I think my friend has done. While I may still feel conflicted in the future regarding suicidal friends, I believe Mr. X is amplifying the negative aspects of his life, while subduing the positive ones (which comprise the majority of the aspects). I suppose in this case, his personality is altered to an extreme when in a suicidal rage, which consequently clouds his judgment. Mr. X and I had a lengthy conversation this evening, and I think I've managed to coerce him into therapy. You're insight is just what I was looking for. Thank you so much.
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