By Barton Goldsmith
Tribune News Service.
I know most everybody thinks that the winter holidays are the most depressing time of year, but that isn’t true. More suicides happen from the end of July through the month of August than at any other time, and we don’t know why.
My thinking is that people always hold out hope for the holidays. They want them to be good, so they make the effort to lift themselves out of their depression for those few weeks. Acting this way can be a powerful healing tool and also a great holiday gift for those who have been supporting you through your pain. However, whereas some can use this positive energy as a springboard for greater emotional balance, most do not.
The depression usually returns before the tree even comes down. At that point, you must find the help you need so you can enjoy the rest of your life, not just one more holiday.
Summertime brings its own set of problems. For some, it’s simply the heat and humidity, but the problems go much deeper for others. For those who live alone or who are homebound, it can feel depressing to hear about friends or family members having parties, taking vacations, and just basically doing summertime.
For whatever reason, the warmer and longer days give us more time to think, and if you are depressed, that means you are ruminating about what you perceive is wrong with your life. If you do that for too long, you can lose the point of being alive. It can be easy to slip into thinking that taking your own life is a simple way out of your pain. But it’s not. Most people in this situation forget to think about those who love them or realize just how much damage taking their own life will inflict.
I believe that suicide kills more than one person. And there are people who kill themselves to hurt those they love.
When you lose someone to that terrible tragedy, it changes you forever. Some survivors learn to treasure life more, but they can never let go of the pain. Others cannot get past the grief or guilt.
If suicide has touched your life, you know what I am saying. It isn’t something most feeling people can easily let go of; you simply struggle to find a way to live with the loss. Contrary to some psychological theories, you never move on completely. There will always be emotional scars.
Holding on to anger is also something that some survivors experience. “How could they do this to me?” is a question that will hide in the back of your heart long after your loss. That’s why it is important for those left behind to get appropriate emotional support. I always recommend finding a grief group or a licensed counselor as soon as possible and, if you have children, to go as a family a few times.
Although I do support physician-assisted suicide, it’s for the terminally ill, not for the severely depressed. Taking your own life because you hurt inside isn’t a good enough reason, because help can almost always be found. All I ask is that if you are considering leaving this planet by your own hand, please call 1-800-SUICIDE; it is the Prevention Hotline, and there are trained professionals available 24/7/365 to help you deal with the pain in your heart and soul.
If for some reason you can’t talk to a stranger on the phone, then go to a therapist or even a hospital. You can find someone who will help and care for you if you just reach out.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.”)