Please, first of all let me make two things very clear.
1. This page is not meant to advocate suicide. Obviously, one of the intentions of this entire site is to help you avoid suicide: to consider alternative ways out of your depression.
2. This page is not about how to kill yourself. I don’t want to discuss actual suicide methods in any way, because to me that would simply feel wrong. Sorry. That’s how it is.
So why this page?
In my personal opinion, when you keep suffering terribly and in the long run nothing helps, in the end – after serious consideration, and only after having exhausted all possible kinds of professional help and advice – we do have the right to end our own life.
But this right comes with an obligation: if you really are sure that suicide is the only option left, you should still proceed in a careful, responsible manner. Please let me explain.
The One Suicide Rule
If you really see no option other than killing yourself, there is one essential Suicide Rule. In every way, you are obliged to:
Plan and prepare your death in a way that
seems not just best for yourself, but will also
be the least damaging or traumatic for others.
Meaning? When imagining what your suicide may do to others, you need to focus on these five main points:
1. Kill no one but yourself
Avoid killing or maiming other people. You don’t have the right to take someone else’s life along with your own, so you should avoid any risk of doing just that.
For example, you should not kill yourself by causing a huge gas explosion in your apartment, with the risk of killing your neighbors as well.
And you should not kill yourself by letting your car swerve into a high-speed frontal collusion, probably killing the people in the other car too.
Such “methods” are simply out of the question. You cannot do such a thing.
2. Don’t traumatize strangers
Avoid seriously traumatizing random other people. You don’t have that right, either.
For example, you should not kill yourself by jumping in front of a train, forcing the train driver to run over you and leaving him with your bloody remains. Many train drivers remain traumatized by such an event.
Basically, you should not kill yourself where bystanders may see you die. Another example is jumping from the tenth floor at a place where some innocent people on the sidewalk will helplessly witness your smash to death. There might even be children among them. Again, you don’t have the right to do that to them.
3. Minimize the trauma for family and friends
Your family and friends will probably be traumatized by your suicide anyway. But make sure you don’t make things needlessly hard for them.
For example, you should not kill yourself in some remote spot deep in the woods: forcing them to frantically keep searching for you for weeks or months, until they either have to give up, or finally stumble onto your already badly decomposed remains.
More in general, you should avoid confronting your family and friends with some horrible bloody mangled mess: try to choose a suicide method that allows them to part from you in a somewhat more peaceful, more dignified way.
The one unavoidable mess is of course that someone will have to find your lifeless body. So do think carefully about who you should find you, and where: this should be part of your planning.
4. Organize things that may be needed after your death
Because your family and friends may be traumatized by your suicide anyway, you should try at least to make practical things just a little bit easier for them.
Spare them unnecessary hurdles and queries: make sure they can find all the items they may really need to access after your death – such as your will, your keys, your computer password, your smartphone or your address book, your insurance policies, your bank accounts, etc.
Carefully collect such things and leave them all together in one obvious place, on your table or desk.
5. Write a clear suicide note
Don’t saddle your family or friends with gnawing, unanswered questions. Try to mitigate their almost inevitable feelings of guilt. This means you need to write them a clear and adequate suicide note.
Writing a Suicide Note
Your suicide note should be a honest, clear, explaining farewell letter to your family, friends, work partners, or any other people close to you. Don’t leave them for the rest of their lives with unanswerable questions, horrible conjectures, and tormenting feelings of guilt – which is exactly what will happen if you don’t leave them a letter clearly explaining yourself.
I do know, because I myself once lost a sister and recently a very good friend, who both killed themselves without leaving a message.
This farewell letter is something you write not for yourself, but for the people who will be confronted with your death. The people who will have to face the consequences (both the emotional and practical consequences) of your decision to kill yourself.
So your note should in the first place be helpful to them. Try to write down the following things:
1. At the top of your note, address all the people who you want to read it, the people you’re writing it for. Just to make sure that everyone you want to, will indeed get to read it. It also will help them to understand that you were thinking of them when you wrote your letter.
2. Explain to them you’ve thought about your decision carefully, and exactly why you want to die. Why you think death is best for you. So they won’t have to make wild, desperate guesses about your reasons.
3. List all the alternative solutions (therapies etc) that you tried first, and explain to them why all those things didn’t work for you. So they will understand your decision was not a sudden stupid impulse.
4. Explain to them this is your own decision and your own responsibility: make clear that it’s absolutely not their fault. So you won’t saddle them with feelings of guilt for the rest of their lives.
5. Explain to them why your chose your suicide method (poison, gunshot, hanging, whatever). If necessary, say sorry for the mess you may be causing. So they’ll understand, and not keep guessing about that.
6. For each of your suicide note readers, mention something personal: something good, something you liked, some nice memory – something like that. So they’ll know you loved them, not hated them.
7. If you want to leave some of your possessions to someone specifically, list them, even trivial items. So they won’t have to argue later about who should have what. If you don’t mind at all what they do with your things, state that clearly.
8. List everything you want to be done after your death, and especially what kind of funeral you would prefer (service preferences? cremation? etc). Maybe you should indicate some preference here even if actually you don’t mind. So they won’t have to waste time guessing how you “would have wanted it”.
9. End your note with something personal to show them you’ll be calm and relieved to die. So they won’t be left with the nasty impression that you died in terrible fear, sheer panic and horrible pain.
10. Think extra carefully about your last words: the words concluding your note. These will be very literally your last words to the others: the words they may never forget. The words that may come back to them years from now, when they wake up in the middle of the night. Make sure that those words will not hurt.
Of course there’s more to say about all this, but basically this is it. Take your time writing that letter.
Writing it will also offer you one more good opportunity to review your situation, reasons and motives in a clear and systematic way. Writing that letter can help you to carefully reconsider your decision one more time.
Even when death looks like the only solution left, life may still turn out to be a better option – given some time and effort. Don’t give up on yourself. Just try to try. One more time. Like I am trying here, too.
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