Stages

I remember learning a long time ago about the five stages of grief, as defined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her book On Death and Dying: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. I wonder if there are similar stages to describe the suicide process, and if there are where I would fall on the spectrum.

The first two could be the same for suicide as for grief: Denial and Anger. I spent a long time denying that I wanted to die, and more time being angry that I was not allowed to just cease to exist. Could the third stage by Guilt, knowing how news of your suicide might affect those still living? That seems reasonable, and so does Shame, for not being able to feel like normal people.

Acceptance would seem to be the final stage for suicide just as it is for grief: the coming together of the desire to die, the willingness to take one’s own life, and the means to do so.

There must be another stage before Acceptance, though. I don’t know what to call it, but I think that’s where I am right now. It’s the stage where one actively wishes to stop living, longs for the oblivion of death, but is not yet prepared to do what it takes to make it happen. Each night as I fall asleep I comfort myself with the thought that I might not wake up. I find myself taking risks I would normally never consider: I drive a little too fast, fail to look both ways before crossing the street, stop avoiding areas or situations that might be considered dangerous. I imagine scenarios where I am confronted by a gunman and feel nothing but curiosity and a sense of anticipation.

So what should this stage be called? Ideation? There is an actual medical condition called Suicide Ideation, but after reading a short description I’m not sure it really fits here. I think we need a whole new term. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

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