Hang out with a group of cancer survivors long enough and eventually the topic of suicide will come up. Usually in the context of ideas people had as a reaction to being diagnosed with cancer.
I remember listening to a woman as she talked of her plans to kill herself IF the tests came back showing that she had cancer. The thought that she might have cancer was enough to make her start planning her demise. I felt like she was jumping the gun a bit so to speak.
The fact is that when confronted with a diagnosis of cancer many people turn to thoughts of suicide. Here are some links (there are many more) that show studies of this very thing. Read them if you like, I find them too depressing.
It seems as though this is a common reaction. What I can’t figure out is why would people want to kill themselves when they find out they have what may (or may not) be a fatal disease?
I just can’t wrap my brain around this. It seems counterintuitive. Like finding your kitchen on fire and reacting by pouring gasoline in the living room. I understand that when cancer is progressed and pain is unbearable and death inevitable suicide may be a very rational thought.
But to start planning it the minute you’re diagnosed or before the tests are even in? Nothing in the links I listed really goes into this; they don’t differentiate between the suicidal thoughts of someone diagnosed 5 minutes ago and someone in hospice, in agony at the end of their life.
Frankly I am baffled. The thing is I totally understand wanting to kill yourself when hearing the news you have cancer, what I don’t understand is why we react this way. Is it a control issue? Is it the dying process that is scary? Not death itself? Is it a rehearsal for what the future may bring? Where do these thoughts come from? What are they about? I have no answers, but I’m reminded again why I think a diagnosis of cancer should come with a prescription for anti-depressants.
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
And please if you are feeling suicidal, even random crazy thoughts, ask for help. Get support from one of your doctors, your local Gilda’s Club, The American Cancer Society, or the National Crisis Hotline 1-800-273-TALK.