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Suicide is a taboo subject for conversation. Particularly what makes a person want to commit suicide or what to say in the face of their pain.

“A man devoid of hope and conscious of being so has ceased to belong to the future.”
― Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

Suicide is a subject almost everyone has thought of at some point or the other. Almost everyone has wondered what it would be like to end our own life or how it could be done without confronting the great fear - pain, suffocation or other discomforts. Yet suicide remains a taboo subject. The feelings behind suicide. What makes someone commit suicide. We can talk statistics or prevention or helplines, but in the face of actual pain that drives a person to suicide, we have no skills. There is a difference between contemplating suicide and planning to commit suicide. An important one. The first is a fairly common and natural response to unbearable negative emotions. The other is an irreversible action.

I admit I have often considered suicide. I have written about suicide before too. From a perspective of statistics, from a perspective of understanding widespread distress needing political answers, from a perspective of empathy when I read about suicide, from a perspective of failing to support and grieving when someone I know commits suicide and I have also considered suicide as an option to end my own life when I was very sad. Yet, whenever I have tweeted about the subject, I have immediately got responses that amount to stopstopstopstopstopstopstopstopSTOP! It is so immediate that it would be hilarious if the subject were not grave. I have got helpline numbers as replies, I have got advice to not let dark thoughts enter my mind.

Hello! I write and tweet and comment and contemplate issues of human rights abuse. How in the world can one do that without having any dark thoughts? If I were planning to commit suicide, why would I be tweeting instead of finding myself a rope? I understand that it can sometimes be a cry for help by a distraught person, but if the rest of the words are perfectly normal, where is the harm in reading to find out what is being said?

Because here is the thing. Even if a person were tweeting about suicide publicly as a last ditch call for attention and help, the last thing they'd need is to be told to shut up or a sea of platitudes. What they would be needing is an empathetic listener who cares.

What exactly is this fear of talking about suicides?

“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

I admit I have spent a great deal of time contemplating committing suicide over the years. As in killing myself. I have been in unhappy relationships involving heartbreak, I've been in an abusive marriage with an alcoholic, I've been a broke single mother of a disabled child. Despair and depression are no strangers. And yet I am here, typing this post.

I have actually found thinking about suicide in great detail helpful. Instead of fearing the pain of death (and thus possibly taking a rash step "while I have the courage" maybe after a glass or two of vodka), I've gone and researched methods of suicide. What would cause the least pain? What are the consequences of failure? What is the best method so that it causes least pain and least risk of failing and living with permanent damage? And anyone who knows me knows that when I say research, I mean obsessive information finding till I am convinced I know the subject in and out without actual experience. Enough to make a very well considered decision. On and off, when I'm in utter despair, I've gone and rechecked all the information. And yet here I am, typing all this.

Is this a guarantee I will never commit suicide? No. But it pretty much guarantees that I have given it thorough thought and not found it a better tradeoff for now. It guarantees that if I do it, it will not be a thoughtless impulse, but a decision I take about my life after considering all options I have.

So how has contemplating suicide helped me?

By giving me an option. By giving me an exit from the pain. By giving me the concrete information that if all this gets unbearable, I still have the option to exit. In the process, a miracle happens. I am no longer cornered by my despair. I always have the cheat route out. And because I know that, I am never out of options. I lose the fear of making attempts to change my circumstances that could fail.  Just allowing myself to spend time thinking about ending myself is a catharsis. If no one else, at least I am acknowledging how bad things are. I am listening to myself. It helps me feel heard. It gives me a vocabulary for describing my situation when asking for help. No, I don't mean "I am suicidal, help me or else." I mean "This, this and this is the reason for my despair. I am not able to see functional ways out. I need help." - because hello, I've gone through all the reasons in my contemplation and have them now sorted out in my head.

And sometimes, in a very cynical way, the contemplations have saved me. If I don't care whether I live or die, why not try this one last thing or the other? If I hit a dead end, I can always die.

“Killing myself was a matter of such indifference to me that I felt like waiting for a moment when it would make some difference.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man

Here is an example how. When I was younger, my emotions were more volatile. Taking what I felt seriously and giving it serious thought helped me see things more clearly and invariably, I ended up thinking that if there was any hope, I could use it and if there wasn't, well, I could always die. But the well thought out option being there and not at any threat of being taken off the table gave me the confidence to know I could opt for it any time and there was no need to do it right now. I could afford to wait and see. I am truly grateful no one immediately tried to stop me at such times, or I'd have been tempted to use the opportunity before someone blocked it from me.

Now I am older. I have a young disabled child. Whoever knows me knows that I'd chew my arm off before I allowed anything to harm him. Well, losing a mom would definitely harm him. So suicide is totally not an option any more. At least while he is alive. He needs me. Period. Again, if I hadn't thought this through, I could have been at risk of giving up without considering the impact.

In some of my more selfish and melodramatic ways, I've even thought "What will be, will be" If I am not there, someone or the other will care for my son, though I can't imagine who, right now. But then, in such a melodramatic moment, the desire is also to leave a lasting mark on the world when I die. And oops, it is not "orphaned kid in moment of despair". I'd like to be remembered for something better, thank you very much.

Whatever it is. Others may have their own reasoning. Still others may come to a well considered decision that suicide is actually a good choice for them, When my father was dying of Parkinson's, he had the option of looking forward to an indeterminate bed ridden existence with little control over his body, being bored out of his wits and too exhausted to do anything about it but to wait to die. He begged me to kill him almost every week. It is illegal and I have two more dependents, or I would definitely have arranged for him to be freed as per his will if it were legal. Others do it out of poverty. Starvation. When the alternative is to live in debt and watch your family suffer with no hope of ever providing for them in sight, it can be a brutal life to look forward to, and death may simply be a matter of running out of the ability to fight.

“Let them think what they liked, but I didn't mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank -- but that's not the same thing.”
― Joseph Conrad, The Secret Sharer and other stories

Whatever it is, however it plays out, a suicide is not about dying or exiting the world, it is about escaping unbearable torment. A person who feels unheard and uncared for, is unlikely to respond to a panicked flood of platitudes that s/he has heard a hundred times that drowns their voice all over again, even in the contemplation of death.

How agonized we are by how people die. How untroubled we are by how they live. ~ P. Sainath

My suggestion is that we all examine what this fear is that stops us from listening on hearing that word. Because the lives of many around us could depend on how we respond to their pain. If someone has made a well considered decision to die, there isn't much we can do about it, but if someone is screaming into a void of despair, perhaps us offering a listening ear will give them the space to be heard, and in the process get a clearer view of their situation.

What do you think?


I Am Woman Part 1 || Part 2 by Hannah Imogen Jones

Continued from Part 1

Some months later I received a telephone call from a friend of mine. She was sobbing her heart out, crying so much she could hardly speak and said that she was coming over to my house because she needed to talk. What seemed like seconds later, I heard an almighty crash from outside the house. I ran to the door and my friend had arrived. In her state of upset she had attempted to manoeuvre her car into our driveway, but hadn’t gotten the angle right and had plunged straight into the wall. Incapable of thinking clearly or reversing and re-manoeuvring at the time, she kept on going and managed to destroy our garden wall, and the entire left side of her car with one fell swoop. I ushered her into the house and took her upstairs to talk. Through her sobs she managed to tell me that she had just been raped by her Auntie’s husband – her Uncle-In-Law. I had met this man at her house the previous Christmas. He was a well respected professional and man of the community. He had seemed absolutely lovely, and we took photographs with his arms around his favourite ‘niece’ and her friends.

I won’t continue to tell stories. For the next decade and a bit, I entered into the workplace and my stories from that arena could fill a book.

I won’t even go into detailed feminist theory, which I studied as my major subject during the final year of my literature degree.

I won’t go into examples from history, about things that are happening today around the world at large, or about situations that women the world over have faced and still face on a daily basis.

I’ll give you an extract from a telephone conversation I had with my best friend about a week ago: “So, do you think that one of the main challenges presented to men in their lifetimes, is to learn how to deal with the testosterone that they are given? To learn how to deal with their superior physical strength and societal power; to choose to decide whether to use these advantages for the work of good, or otherwise, oppression? To choose whether to assert their strength through violence, or to reject the temptation to do so? To give them the opportunity to learn through their experiences and the experiences of their peers?”

I’ll finish this piece of writing, by conveying to you where I am now as a feminist. Perhaps, with where I am now as a human being. Here are my final thoughts and feelings on the matter:


I am Hannah Imogen Jones. I am Woman. I Am.

I am the everlasting wind that blows through the eternal trees. I am the trees themselves, as I proudly, humbly stand to shelter those beneath my canopy of wisdom, protection and gentle power. I am the ancient Goddess of Love, of Light and Maternal Strength. I am a universal symbol of suffering, endurance and resurrection. I am Birth. I am Life. I am Creation. I am Creator. I am knowledge. I am intuition. I am perfection. I am Love.

I am a child, a girl, who dances over the waves with the sunlight on her hair and the wind tickling her back. I laugh with delight as I contemplate the joy of my very existence, and the wonders that the universe has in store.

I am a Daughter. I am the magical gift of hope and joy, who came into this world to make you smile, my parents. To learn from you and to be your teacher. To love you unconditionally, and to understand you and appreciate you as you are. I thank you for the gift of this life that we share!

I am a Friend, bursting with compassion and love and fun and empathy. A shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen to you; one who feels and understands what you, my friends and my others are feeling. One who exists to be there for my friends, whether or not you know as yet, or acknowledge that you are my friend. I am a friend, and I am light. I am laughter. I am humanity.

I am a Sister to my brothers, my sisters and humanity. As a sister I stand in solidarity with my family on this earth. I exist in observation, in waiting and training to continue the sacred path of my elders.

I am an Aunt, elected in this lifetime to nurture my adopted children and all those young sweet souls who need my additional hand of love, care and support. I am an elder, a Grandmother and a Great-Grandmother, here to impart my wisdom to my brood and filter those loving traditions down through the ranks of my family. I am a legacy. I am the wisdom that imparts it. I am your protector.

I am a Wife. I am a Partner. I am an equal human being in Love. I exist to love you, my husband, with every ounce and molecule of my being. To be your companion, your protector and your shelter, your mirror, your nurturer and your challenger. Your comfort, your other half, your lover, best friend and your soul mate. I exist to look after you, and to be looked after by you. I exist with you to share our equal love, and to make our way forwards each day in harmony, in respect and in learning together.

I am a Mother. I AM Mother. I AM. I nurture, I give energy, I provide food and warmth and shelter. I gave birth to every human life that ever existed on this planet, and all that ever will. I am the light of the sun and the magic of the moon and the stars. I am the sea as it roars over rocks and into pools, then glistens with silver reflective calm. I am the wind as I fly over plains and whirl the desert sand into a dancing frenzy, before I breeze past the ear of a butterfly and whisper my song of inspiration.

I am artist, art and muse. I am the Spirit of the Universe. I am the living embodiment of Mother Nature. I am the World. I Am.

I am a Human Spirit, who feels, cares, sees, hears, touches, tastes and experiences life in all its glory.

I am the walking embodiment of freedom. I am the sound of music. I am a flower bud, emerged from the soil to grace this earthly world with my perfumes and petals and scents and colours and patterns and delightful uniqueness. I am a dragon, who guards tight and close my lair of wonder and magic and breathes almighty fires of love, to protect the treasures within.

I am a warrior who treads the boards of life, fighting the good fight with the strength of a million soldiers. A warrior of grace and of peace and of love. A warrior who roars her whispers of love, to deafen to silence those who would hate. I am a fighter, who can make disappear, with just one look of love, any obstacle or foe that would stand in the way of my light.

I am suffering. I am sacrifice. I am the challenge I give to myself through living – to every day joyfully and thankfully strive to overcome the hurdles life grants me. I am an example to my fellow sisters and brothers. I am a teacher. I am the textbook. I am the paper on which it is written. I am the ink in the pen, the hand that moves it and the feather that guides it along. I am the eternal student.

I am a gift, given to this world, that I may make it better and more wonderful through my existence. I am a gift, given to my oppressors, in order that they may have the opportunity to learn how to be towards me, towards their sisters and brothers, and towards their own aching souls.

I am a mirror for humanity. I am a healer. I am a visionary. I am a vessel to carry the Divine Spirit of life. I am everything beautiful, magical and wonderful that the Great Spirit of the universe has ever created, and ever, ever will.

I am compassion. I am peace. I am nourishment. I am gentleness. I am strength. I am freedom. I am joy. I am happiness. I am music. I am laughter. I am Light. I am Love. I am Woman. I am Me.


And I AM so much more. 🙂


Part 1 || Part 2