Blog entry by Alan Chapman

by Alan Chapman - Monday, 9 August 2021, 10:06 AM
Anyone in the world

Suicide and trauma

I met a deeply impressive man yesterday.

He'd lost his grown-up daughter to suicide about four years ago.

Of course it was harrowing.

It is among the most distressing suicide stories I've encountered.

It's usual for parents whose children die suddenly and in uncertain circumstances to be investigated by police.


Being investigated by police, immediately after your child dies by suicide.

Can you?

Of course not, unless you've lived it.

We cannot imagine what we have not experienced.

I discussed with this beautiful man what causes some people to take their own lives, because he is trying to make sense of what cannot be explained.

Even his daughter would not be able to explain it, had she survived.

Mostly I just listened.

Often that's best.

Some people are quite clear about what they want. Others are not.

I think it's very important to give other people in grief the responsibility and choice, of how they want to navigate their way though things, rather than trying to intervene.

I think interventions are fraught with risks.

If someone wants an intervention, let them ask for it.

It can be difficult watching and listening to someone struggling with grief and growth, but people are a lot stronger than they might seem or imagine, and part of recovery is discovering this, whereas interventions often prevent this discovery and instead create dependencies and hinder the rebuilding of confidence.

When I was deeply suicidal, for many years, I didn't want anyone to fix me. All I wanted was for people to say to me, "You can do it," and "You are strong enough to get through this."  

But it's different for everyone. Some people want help; others just want a bit of encouragement, or a knowing smile.

Anyway, yesterday evening and probably through the night while sleeping, my brain has been processing the discussion yesterday, and also processing the deeper connections made when I met this beautiful man, who until yesterday was a complete stranger to me, and yet we both share this suicidal existence, as everyone does, in our own different ways.

Here's some of my explanation as to why some people take their own lives...

From the moment we are born many of us are traumatised.

Perhaps most of us are, especially in the 'western' and 'developed' world.

Birth traumas seem not generally recognised, and seem generally misunderstood, especially in the 'western' and 'developed' world.

Most of us do not realise that we might these traumatic memories embedded deeply in our subconscious minds and personalities.

Some babies are traumatised before their birth.

Erik Erikson's  and Gabor Mate's works seem significant to me.

Traumas seem to create susceptibilities to addictions - of all sorts of substances and lifestyles.

Working too hard can be an addiction, caused by trauma that remains hidden.

Gambling, shopping, alcohol, sugar, social media, etc., are other more obvious addictive choices when taken to excess.

Each of these is addictive, and big business understands this.

Addictiveness has been designed into what we are conditioned to believe is how we should live.

Modern life is for some people an illusion built with addictive things.

And much of what we read and absorb from governments, advertising, education and media, reinforces this illusion of how we should live and think about ourselves.

As with any harmful organising of humans, the organising is mostly systemic, and is only partly due to a few psychopathic 'leaders' and 'administrators'. 

As such we are all part of the system.

Humans tend to want an easier and less painful life, and this supports the systems that we've all created for generations, that seem to make life easier and less painful, but which longer-term often have the opposite effect.

Politicians and business moguls have their wealth and power because enough people support them.

The newspapers and social media would not feature sensational distressing news so prominently unless enough people support and engage with the media.

Public executions were sustained for so many hundreds, thousands, of years, because the public attended the events.

People in recent generations seem to prefer to take a tablet, and visit the doctors or hospitals rather than eat more sensibly, get more sleep, and get more exercise.

Most human beings seem by nature more comfortable waiting until something needs fixing, instead of preventing something breaking, including their own minds and bodies.

Despite mainstream beliefs, and medical and public health doctrines, there seems very little firm evidence that 'mental illness' is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Perhaps more likely, most or nearly all 'mental illness' is due to traumatic experience.

I realise that many people disagree with this and believe instead that 'mental illness' is something entirely genetically inherited.

We do not reliably know ourselves very well, and we do not generally realise how we have been conditioned to think.

Note that grief and nose-picking are among about a thousand other mental disorders defined by main international dictionaries on which doctors and official health professions base their diagnoses and prescriptions.

Notably please consider the American DSM-V (or DSM-5) dictionary. It's hugely significant.

More fully this is called The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which is the 2013 update (of version DSM-4 or DSM-IV of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the taxonomic and diagnostic tool published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), and increasingly used internationally.

For anyone interested to understand anything, it's important to understand fundamentally how it is defined.

There is very little that happens in organised science that cannot be done without using language.

Language relies on definition.

Definitions and dictionaries are therefore fundamentally crucial. 

They are the basis of our understanding, and of the understanding and education that inform the systems of human organisation, and inform the experts and media and politics that govern how we live.

If the basis of our understanding is not wholly correct, or worse, is partly or wholly incorrect, then everything that's built on that foundation is perhaps unreliable.

If definitions and dictionaries are wrong, then everything that's built on them is unreliable, or wrong.

Mental health is far more difficult to understand than physical health, because thoughts and feelings cannot be seen, measured or analysed. They can only be theorised.

Theories about many things become 'accepted' and adopted due to commercial interests.

Symptom or cause

If we take tablets we treat the symptom, or we treat a misunderstood cause of the symptom.

It is reasonable to put a sticking plaster on a cut finger, but it is more sensible to avoid cutting the finger.

The people I meet who've experienced suicide, whether bereaved, or survivors of suicide ideation or attempt, or all of these, all have stories of trauma, and almost always, where there's lots of trauma, so the risk of suicide increases.

It's different for everyone.

And yet what seems the same for everyone, is that just one traumatic experience alone does not cause anyone to attempt suicide or die by suicide.

One traumatic or tiny event might be the 'final straw that breaks the camel's back', but this will be after a heavy loading of different stresses and addictive behaviours for several months or several years.

Incidentally the ratio is roughly one suicide for every twenty attempts.

There are about a million suicides globally every year, so that's about twenty million attempts.

Alcohol and/or mind-altering drugs are common in suicides.

That's not surprising.

Nor is it surprising that that anti-depressants are mind-altering.

My own partner who died by suicide in 2015 had recently started taking anti-depressants - against her own wishes and beliefs - persuaded by her doctor and mental health crisis support. That's another frightening story, which emerged in the two-day coroner's inquest.

All the people I meet who've experienced suicide (bereaved/survivors of ideation/attempt) have their own frightening stories of failed interventions of supposed trustworthy medical systems and experts.

When theory is tested by actuality, often something breaks.

Put too much pressure - stress - on anyone, and eventually they will break, and ultimately, if a cure is not found, someone is hurt, or someone dies.

The actuality of suicide and homicide

Suicide is the ultimate inwardly-directed destructive outcome when the human mind is unable to resolve traumatic and addictive disintegration.

Homicide (murder) is the ultimate outwardly-directed destructive outcome when the human mind is unable to resolve traumatic and addictive disintegration.

Self-harm (of all sorts), violent behaviour to others (and animals and property), and addictions (of all sorts), are the steps along the way, and the signs that somebody needs help.

This principles apply to families and communities too.

The sooner we prevent things from getting worse, the easier we make whatever preventative measures we are attempting.

If a house or a city is left without any maintenance for long enough, it will eventually collapse and be returned to nature. People are the same.


Pharmaceuticals seem partly or substantially to work because of the placebo effect.

The placebo effect is when we believe something is helpful, so it becomes helpful.

This seems to apply to life in general.

Thoughts become things.

We each make our own reality.

To understand this, consider what is reality?

It is how our minds process sensations.

And that depends on our minds, not the sensations.

[ Modified: Sunday, 29 August 2021, 1:00 PM ]