Suicide: Hope in Darkness
*the details of this story have been altered for confidentiality reasons, but it is faithful to the essence of what happened
The thirty-something young man, father of three beautiful tiny children, who sat across from me in my counseling office was in severe emotional pain. “Dr. Pettit, you’re my last hope. A friend who has talked with you told me you know something that might help me. I plan to commit suicide; I have a date. We have three months to see if I can find a reason to live. I look at my beautiful babies, so happy and playful, and I think they will be better off if they are not burdened by a father who is such a failure.”
I listen as deeply as I know how. I hear his pain. I am moved to tears with him. We have rapport. And then, with his permission, I point toward truth.
“Daniel, we are all created from a formless, intelligent energy, Mind. One way that energy takes form is via the power and gift of Thought. We use Thought as free agents, creating whatever we wish with it. In the theater of life, we can create comedies, dramas or tragedies. But the NATURE of the power of Thought is intelligent, wise. As a conscious being, we can notice our own personal thinking, what we create with Thought, and energize that, or we can look for Wisdom. Wisdom and utter compassion for self, others and life are companion flyers – they never travel without each other.”
“You can take your suicidal thinking seriously if you want to.” I continue. “Or you can look a little deeper, thank your brain for sharing its comments, and listen for your spiritual nature, your wisdom, which is always with you.”
“But,” I say, “see for yourself. Look inside your own Mind. In the midst of your suffering, do you ever have more hopeful thoughts?”
For a moment, he is quiet. “Well, yeah, sometimes I’ll think, ‘things will get better.’ And, ‘the babies need me’ and ‘it’s all ok, life has a way of working out.’” He also says, “Sometimes when the kids are being silly, I find myself absorbed in them and laughing with them. And then, I’ll think, how can I, a depressed person, be laughing so hard? Maybe life isn’t so bad!”
“Wow, that’s beautiful,” I say. “Where do those thoughts come from?” He is thoughtful, and says, “I don’t know.” Together, we watch a video called, “The Great Illusion” by Sydney Banks, a humble welder with a 9th grade education who had a flash of enlightenment to timeless wisdom about the nature of Life. Afterwards Daniel says, “you know, I have no idea what Syd Banks was talking about. But, curiously, I just feel better. Lighter. More peaceful.”
“Maybe just be grateful for that feeling and don’t spoil it by analyzing it,” I playfully suggest. We laugh together. He accepts a copy of, “The Missing Link” by Syd to read as “homework.” I do what I have been trained to do. I get a safety plan in place; he signs a “no suicide contract”. I give him my cell phone number to call if he ever gets to the place where he feels unable to avoid acting on suicidal thoughts.
But I am not unduly concerned. I FEEL that he has seen something new. He is puzzled and curious about how life works. His beautiful, lighter feelings tell me that he is having insights that will protect his life. I am quietly excited to see how his unbroken mental well-being, his spiritual inheritance, will unfold.
We meet two more times and he is a different. “I can hardly relate to the man I was three weeks ago” he tells me. I am living in another reality. I am filled with love and hope. In this place, leaving my children makes no sense and I am having all kinds of thoughts about how to address the situation we are in.”
Because, at the time, I am relatively new to sharing the Three Principles understanding and am a little bit skeptical of the power of it, I call multiple times over the next weeks and months to check in with him. He is clear: “I am well.”
Light, the power of our spiritual nature, is always shining behind the darkness we create INNOCENTLY with our thinking. A moment of insight, a new thought, can completely change the course of history. Daniel had deep LOVE for his babies, with or without his suicidal thinking, but without UNDERSTANDING how the Three Principles work, how life works, he could have innocently, momentarily followed his personal thinking and been out of harmony with his love. That’s how it is for all of us.
“Thought is the missing link between mental sickness and mental health. Thought is the missing link between happiness and sadness…in the silence beyond all things lies the divine knowledge that will help guide you through life.” – Sydney Banks, “The Missing Link”
Photo by Marina Zg/Istock