Psychological Self-Help

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overwhelming guilt or shame, having untreatable and terminal illness,
or suffering a momentary loss of reason in an overly-emotional or
intoxicated state. 2. Existential reasoning: “It is better to die than
to live in prison or in such miserable conditions,” “People hate or
despise me, I can’t stand it,” or “I’m on the edge of killing myself, so
why not take a chance (like going over Niagara Falls) and see if some
good things might happen,” “Maybe they would treat me better if I
tried to kill myself.” 3. Characterological factors: An impulsive,
highly emotional, high risk-taking personality, an immature person
with mood swings and a history of poor and violent interpersonal
relations. These actions may look unintentional or almost accidental,
such as the person who thinks “I will not jump if just one person
smiles at me as I walk to the bridge.” 4. Cognitive causes (without
psychosis): Some suicides seem intended to change things, including
to reduce their pain and misery or to inflict self-punishment on
themselves or to hurt, punish, and defeat someone else. Suicides may
be an effort to resolve a conflict, to make a choice, or to force a
change on others. Often ongoing hopeless despondency is filled with
urges to self-injure, especially if the self-destructive thoughts are
mixed with angry and destructive impulses directed towards others. 5.
Serious psychotic illness: Persons with major depression, bipolar
disorder, paranoid schizophrenia and other psychoses get out of
contact with reality and rarely but sometimes make irrational decisions
that can result in death or suicide. Major depression and bipolar
disorders have high levels of suicidal ideation. About 10% to 12% of
persons suffering schizophrenia also have suicidal thoughts and it is
estimated that 25% to 50% of that 10-12% attempt suicide within the
first one or two years of being struck by their highly destructive
An early and prolific researcher of suicide, E. S. Shneidman
(1968), preferred to think of three types: (1) The results of thoughts,
e.g., for a social-political-religious cause, because of chronic physical
pain, because of inner turmoil and mental illness. Examples: When the
Christian church was young, many poor and deprived believers killed
themselves to pass quickly into heaven. The church fathers' solution
1500 years ago was to make suicide a sin. Cause of depression #9
above, anger turned inward, is another example of this type, but
among suicides only 25% were known to be negative towards
themselves (Sue, Sue, & Sue, 1981). (2) The results of interpersonal
conflict. Self-destruction can be a way to strike back and cause guilt; it
can be for some the only way to express their anger. Often these
people need help in handling relationships; they need social-
communication skills and better decision-making. For example, one
study reported that 30% of all adolescent suicides were gay, lesbian,
or bisexual youth. Our culture had, I assume, made them feel
different, abnormal, and guilty or resentful of homophobia. (3) The
results of "dropping out" of life and feeling alienated, isolated, and
futile. These people might need a meaningful purpose (which is usually
possible to find--see chapter 3). Obviously, there are many ways to
get to suicide as an end. If one really wants to explore in depth the
possible causes, refer to David Lester (1997), who cites a lot of
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