It’s a good time to do those things on your “bucket list.” Don’t let your story end without giving yourself the chance to live your dreams.
If you’ve decided that you have the power to end your life, the most complete life change possible, then you have the power to change any other thing about your life.
If you’re going to make some changes, why not start with the ones you’ve dreamed about for a long time?
“It is hard to be happy without a life worth living… What is important is that you experience your life as worth living – one that is satisfying, and one that brings happiness.”
– Marsha M. Linehan
There are two kinds of anti-suicide reasons in my view. They are similar in how they work, but they feel different.
- Reasons for not dying
- Reasons for living
Reasons for not dying include your responsibilities, obligations, dependents, and fears.
Those reasons for not dying have power by pushing you away from death. That can keep you alive, and sometimes it’s all we have. They tend to be stable and durable.
However, in my experience they don’t always feel good or positive. Those things actually still focus on death. Basically, you’re saying: “If I die, then this bad thing could happen. That’s why I don’t want to die.”
The other set of reasons (what I call true reasons for living) includes things that bring joy, delight, fulfillment, indulgence, pleasure, or satisfaction. Those reasons for living have power by attracting you towards life, and thus pulling you further away from death.
With those reasons you’re saying: “If I live, then I could have these good things. That’s why I want to keep living.” It feels good to focus on the reasons we have to keep living, and to discover more of them.
“Why is it that we spend so much of our time preparing for when we can do what we want, instead of just doing what we want right now?”
– Douglas Rushkoff
Surviving a suicidal crisis is one of the most terrible experiences I can imagine. I wouldn’t want anyone to have to go through that.
If you already have, then you reached a point where you decided that you could take life into your own hands.
If we pause there though, before throwing it all away, you can see that you do actually have your life in your own hands. You have the power to shape it, or change it, or move it, or let it rest, or shake it up.
Also, the thing that keeps most people from living their dreams is fear that it will go terribly wrong and maybe they’ll even die. Fearlessness about death can be dangerous, but it can also be liberating.
I can be free to do those daring and bold adventures because I have surpassed one of the greatest human fears – death. That’s not to say that there are no fears or anxieties anymore, but I have a better sense of my capability to override fear and I can use that to pursue life in new ways.
Recent models of suicide risk show that reasons for living are counters to feeling trapped.
Further, mental imagery of suicide and death can be dangerous precursors to suicidal behavior.
One of the purposes for this exercise is to help you explicitly visualize reasons for living and what a positive quality of life could be like. More specific and positive reasons for living would be more likely to connect with identified buffers such as positive emotion and positive ambivalence.
Putting those reasons within the clear context of individual choice and ability is also intended to increase your sense of self-efficacy, your feelings of control, and your ability to make a positive change in your own environment.
This then aligns with goals in suicide intervention:
- counter helplessness by increasing empowerment;
- counter the feeling of being trapped by increasing the number of alternative options;
- and explicitly identify reasons for living.