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Suicide 101


Suicide is a permanent solution for what could be a temporary problem.

This discussion is divided as follows:

  • If you are having suicide thoughts
  • If you are having a crisis and considering suicide soon
  • If you decide to commit suicide soon
  • Assisted suicide

If you are having suicidal thoughts

It may be possible to end your suffering with treatment without ending your life. It's worth taking the time to find out.

We encourage you to speak with a mental health professional to determine whether suicidal thoughts are due to a treatable depression, pain which can be reduced or even eliminated, or another treatable cause. Your health insurance may pay for these sessions. If not, and if money is a concern or a problem, free or low cost help may be available. Contact your local disease specific nonprofit association.

Compassion & Choices counsels patients about alternatives to a hastened death as well as about hospice care.  offsite link, Tel.: 800. 247.7421

Self-help for depression may also be worth exploring. A list of books about depression can be found at: offsite link

If you are having a crisis and considering suicide soon:

Call a suicide hotline or 911 anywhere in the country. The calls are free.

  • Most suicide hotlines are available 24/7, 365 days a year.
  • All the people on the hotlines are commited to helping. They listen, they provide advice, and they can direct you to local help.
  • People who staff suicide hotlines have differing degrees of expertise and training. If the person isn't helpful, or if you find him or her annoying instead of helpful, ask to speak with someone else.
  • Two national suicide hotlines  to know about are:
    • 800.SUICIDE (800.784.2433)
    • 800.273.TALK(800.273.8255)
    • Deaf Hotline: 800.799.4889
  • To locate a hotline in your state, click on the name of the state in which you reside at: offsite link.
  • If you call 911. Let the person who answers know you are having a suicide crisis.
  • For a list of additional resources, see: offsite link

Once the depression and/or pain is gone, or is at least made livable, then you can see what you want to do. You won't have lost anything except a little time. On the other hand, suicide is irrevocable.

If you decide to commit suicide

We do not encourage suicide. However, following our mandate to provide you with the facts:

  • There is at least one "How To" book about suicide: Final Exit : The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide For The Dying, by Derek Humphry, Dell Publishing, 2002.  If you want to use medications described in the book, if you do not tell the purpose, your doctor may be willing to prescribe drugs you can use. If not, he or she may be willing to refer you to another doctor who is.
  • Final Exit Network is an organization run by volunteers that helps members who, in the organization's words: "are suffering from an irreversible condition which has become more than they can bear." The organization provides information about a painless method which does not require prescription drugs and is easy to obtain and use. The organization has volunteers they refer to as Exit Guides who can provide counseling and support. The organization has criteria for people to enter their program, including acceptance by the medical director. Application forms can be obtained at Final Exit Network's web site. See: offsite link, or call: 866.654.9196.

Before taking your own life:

  • Think about the impact on the people you will leave behind, particularly the person who will find the body.
  • Think about leaving a handwritten, signed note explaining what you are about to do and why in order to decrease the likelihood of a criminal investigation which would further upset the people closest to you.

Assisted suicide

"Assisted suicide" (suicide with the help of a doctor) is now legal in five states. In the other states, many doctors have been known to help a patient who is at end of life with no hope for recovery. For information about assisted suicide, also referred to as Right To Die, click here.

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