When I was working today in my home office, someone rang my doorbell. I wasn't expecting anybody, so I was a little surprised. When I opened the door, it was a very good friend of mine (we've done business together), and I greeted him and told him it was good to see him and we started talking.
Right from the get-go I could tell he was a little distressed; I'm aware there were some personal issues he had been dealing with for a while, so I asked him how he was doing. And then he opened up...
I'm not going to get into details for privacy reasons, but basically the situation had gotten worst since the last time I talked to him (about a month and a half ago).
As I started trying to give him some advice, he said that the other day he came close to committing suicide. I'll leave the details about that aside also...
So I proceeded to give him some advice based on extensive thinking and meditation I've done about this very serious subject. Having heard about a couple of people I've known who have recently committed suicide, I'd like to share with you all my heartfelt advice about this, in the hope that it may help somebody, even if a little bit.
I'm not going to get into psychology, since I'm not qualified to do that. However, this advice is based on things I've observed when I've talked to people in distress, which has helped me identify certain patterns associated with high levels of emotional distress.
Also, I think this would apply mainly to people who are otherwise functioning normally, working, taking care of their responsibilities, and with no apparent history of mental illness.
Sometimes people find themselves in a lot of trouble. Sometimes the troubles are of their own creation, or sometimes it's just stuff that life throws at them.
When that happens, if there are certain areas in their lives that are seriously threatened, then they become distraught.
What I've seen is that those areas have to do with family, many times issues related to a husband-wife relationship, or economic stability, including the loss of a job, of life savings, a home. Sometimes people are dealing with health issues.
Throughout my life I've had all kind of experiences; I've experienced poverty, and good times alike, and one thing that I feel has always helped me deal with hard times is that I've always tried to disassociate the concepts of who I am as a person from what I have when it comes to material possessions, or what I earn when it comes to income.
And so, just like anybody else, I've studied, and I've worked, and I've pursued dreams, and ideas, and entrepreneurial projects, and sometimes I've struggled, and failed, and in others I've succeeded.
And, yes, like anybody else, you try to get ahead, and live in a nice place (when you can), and have a nice car (when you can), and enjoy little luxuries like traveling, or eating out, going to the movies, dressing nice (when you can), saving (when you can).
As such, I don't underestimate people's desires to try to hang on to what they have, be it their marriage, their wealth, their homes, their nice cars (if they have them). In many respects, people see themselves through the prism of those things, of status as measured against others.
So here's my thinking... I live my life the best I can given my capabilities, and weaknesses. I try not to make costly mistakes, of course, knowing that making the wrong decisions usually results in dire consequences.
And so if there is a crisis, an issue, a problem, a situation, I do my humanly best to try to address it.
But I also have an escape hatch: If after trying everything possible to resolve a situation, if at some point I realize that the situation cannot be resolved, then at some point I will stop trying, rather than letting myself become distraught beyond wanting to exist.
To me, this is especially so with material things.
So what I tell myself is that the only thing I need is a little food, water, and a roof over my head, to survive, nothing else. As long as you have that, and if you are blessed with health, in most cases, the bad times that looked horrible and insurmountable at the moment, will eventually recede into the past.
Here's the main observation. When things go bad, especially in a relationship, when kids are involved, and sometimes infidelity, financial disaster, or whatever, people within the relationship may panic, or become enraged with anger (sometimes justified), and fearful.
In those situations, many times people start hurling very vitriolic and hurtful insults, and sometimes they get physical. Again, I'm not going to judge that, since I understand we are only human and we all react to crisis in different ways. And especially if the issue is related to marital infidelity, or financial irresponsibility, the hurt party may react with rage.
But what I've seen is that when situations get like that, and when it is people who you've loved and have been close to, the ones that are distraught (sometimes because of things you did), the screaming, and the insults, and the panic (of losing the home, the car, the savings), is what many times drive people to think about committing suicide.
Those words searing through your mind, especially in a moment of extreme crisis, become so hurtful and disturbing, that people feel like they are worthless, that their lives have no meaning. It all happens in the moment, when everything seems to be going wrong.
Here's my advice if you ever find yourself in that situation. First, if it gets to the point that the screaming (and physicality), and the insults back-and-forth become unstoppable, then my advice is that you need to extricate yourself from that situation, even if it is temporarily until people calm down.
Second, if after doing everything humanly possible to protect your assets, home, car, etc., you determine that you won't be able to, then let it all go, all of it. Taking your life over stuff is not worth it. That will become more apparent as time goes by.
After all is said and done; after the dust settles, if you find yourself sitting by the beach (or a park) by yourself, looking at the clouds, or the waves, or the birds flying, you will know that you can always start again. As long as you are alive there is hope.
I feel very lucky; I've had this conversation with my wife, and we both know that we will be happy if we have to live in a little trailer or in a nice home. It doesn't matter to us as long as we are together.
Yes, I've made stupid mistakes and have experienced catastrophic failures in business (more than once), and when you are going through a crisis, the whole world seems to be ending, but if you learn from your mistakes and hopefully stop making them, things get better; as long as you are alive there is hope.
I will call my friend to check on him after I publish this diary... I will also touch (very carefully) on the issue of maybe having him call his job's employee assistance program so he can talk to somebody.
P.S. For people who know about mental health and suicide prevention resources, please add them to the comments.