Reasons to keep living
Lesson 4 Section 1
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 many many other things 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.”
How to find reasons for staying alive
There are two kinds of anti-suicide reasons in my perspective. They're similar in purpose, which is why many people put them all together in one group, but they don't feel the same. One category is reasons for not dying, and the other is reasons for living.
In the "Reasons for Not Dying" category you'll have responsibilities, obligations, and fears. Those reasons can push you away from suicide; they tend to be stable and durable. You are likely to be reminded about reasons in this category by family, friends, and professionals. Sometimes reasons in this category are the only thing keeping us alive. However, in my experience they don’t always feel good or positive.
In what I call the "Reasons for Living" category you'll have joys, delights, fulfillment, indulgence, pleasure, and satisfaction. The reasons in this category attract you towards life, and thus pull you farther away from suicide.
Resources for finding reasons to keep living
“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?”
- John P Strelecky
Why write reasons for living? (Click the sections below to open more information)
Surviving a suicidal crisis is one of the most terrible type of empowering experiences I can imagine. I wouldn’t want anyone to have to go through a crisis. If you already have survived a suicidal crisis, then you know what it's like to decide that you could take life into your own hands.
If you pause there, 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.
I used to be terrified about the fearlessness I had about death. That comfort with the concept of death can be dangerous, but it can also be liberating. I feel more free to try daring and bold adventures because I have already faced 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 counter feelings of being trapped in a terrible life. Further, mental imagery of suicide and death can start the dangerous slide toward suicidal actions. Dr. O'Connor has developed theory and research that support these ideas.
Dr. Linehan pioneered much of the work on Reasons for Living and her original assessment tools can be found through the University of Washington. The short version has 48 items and the long version has 72 items. It presents a mix of what I refer to as reasons for not dying as well as general reasons for living (Examples: "I have a responsibility and commitment to my family" and "I have future plans I am looking forward to carrying out.")
One of the purposes for this lesson plan is to help you explicitly visualize reasons for staying alive and to picture what a better quality of life could look like. Having these more specific and positive reasons for living can help you connect with buffers against suicide such as positive emotion and positive ambivalence. By specifically putting those reasons in your control I hope you feel an increased sense of self-efficacy, (the ability to make a positive change in your own environment).
More on buffers against suicide can be found in the Suicide Risk Assessment Standards used by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.