Reducing Pain

As suicide is an effort to escape from unendurable pain, reducing pain is a crucial priority.

When I was taking a biology course I learned that a fundamental impulse of all living organisms is to seek pleasure and to avoid pain. Even single-celled organisms will move away from potentially harmful stimuli in their environment. This means that we humans, too, have been hardwired to avoid pain at any cost.

Right now you may be in a situation where you are experiencing agonizing pain that you would like to avoid. This pain may be the result of difficult circumstances in your life, such as personal loss, feelings of isolation, financial problems, or a serious illness. Or you might be facing a mental health challenge, such as depression, anxiety, a bipolar disorder, or PTSD.

No matter where the pain comes from, it just feels unbearable right now. As a result, you may feel overwhelmed, hopeless, and see suicide as the only option that will put an end to your agony.

But what if you could find a way to reduce your pain, even a little? Then you might say to yourself, “This pain is really bad, but I think I can handle it.” So ending your pain by suicide would then no longer seem necessary.

My own experience of  suicidal episodes, when my depression and anxiety would wax and wane like the ocean tides, can provide an example of this. On days when my symptoms hit a ten on my “pain scale,” I would immediately start to think about ways to end my life. But if the next day I felt calmer or less depressed, I would say to myself, “What was I thinking yesterday? Maybe I have turned a corner today.” And then, as if someone had waved a magic wand,  my suicidal thoughts would disappear.

The information below will give you some concrete ways to “turn down the volume” of your pain so it can become bearable.