Today as I drove in to work, I listened to a radio station put out the question: who is responsible for the suicide of the nurse in the Middleton prank case? I heard callers respond with a range of reactions. Some people spoke about the fact that the pranksters had willfully put the nurse in a no-win situation, and that even if she had not killed herself, she would have been the one to bear the brunt of all the consequences of this prank. Others said they had no sympathy for the nurse, and felt suicide was selfish and cowardly.
I have been involved in suicide prevention for over 20 years, and I have heard this range of emotions most times that I have delivered a presentation on suicide awareness. Suicide is a very scary and emotionally traumatic event for survivors. It is going to trigger our deepest fears. And like any time we come face to face with a fear, we should look at it closely to understand it.
I personally believe that suicide is a choice. I am not suggesting it is a good choice or a bad one. All behaviour is a choice. Two people can experience the same circumstances, and one person may attempt suicide while the other does not. Each person makes a choice. I concede that the range of options a person believes they have while they are in crisis can be very narrow. But, at the end of it all, a person chooses suicide as the best option they have in front of them. They find themselves in a place of such hopelessness and helplessness, and need the pain to stop.
I think suicide calls us to recognize our deepest spiritual truths. A person who is hopeless has lost sight of their divinity, their innate ability to create changes. They are suffering from all the most painful beliefs from their childhood, relationships, and self talk, all manifesting in ways that look like life is out of control and will never change. One spiritual truth is that everything changes. The things that are very good will not last. The things that are very bad will not remain so. Everything changes.
The Magus teased me last night about really enjoying meeting new people. This is true. It is true because I love seeing the individualized expressions of the Divine in each person. I know that often that light of the Divine becomes buried under rocks of the human experience, and I feel part of my calling is holding the truth about the Divine nature of that individual so they too can see it.
With suicide, one of the most important things that happens when a person calls a suicide hotline is that they are talked down from the escalation of their emotions, and they are supported as they expand their range of options. They are supported in recognizing their personal power, and that little changes today can lead somewhere new. No credible hotline would call this a spiritual intervention, yet how different is it than having someone hold consciousness for you as you create something new? On that call, the worker knows you are capable of using your inner strength to choose to live, and live differently. In spirituality, a prayer partner will hold consciousness of your divine nature and all your creative power manifesting what is best in your life.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson
So for me, the question is not who is responsible when a person commits suicide. The question for me is how do we create a world where people know their own light? Where we approach each other with love, and hold consciousness for each other all the time. How do we create an awareness of our divinity in each person, in each interaction we have? How do we heal that sense of separation that makes it possible for one person to hurt another or to be so thoughtless about our impact on each other that we cause deep pain? With that awareness, we would heal the planet. We would create a world that sees each other as one family, one community, one life!
And the answer to this is in the words of Mahatma Gandhi - Be the Change You Want to See in the World.
My daughter reminded me today that I tell her to use her words to express her frustration or anger or pain with me, and yet I allow myself to get to a boiling point and simmer over with words of frustration or anger or pain. Does that really seem as significant as suicide prevention, or promoting human rights, or attempting to be ecologically sustainable? Absolutely yes. Because I will be the change I want to see in the world.