You don’t go from zero to coming up with an exit strategy (or strategies) right away. It’s a much more gradual and insidious process than most people give it credit for.
The first couple of times, maybe you just wonder what it’s like to be dead or what happens after we die. Pretty much everyone does this; it’s normal. Then, you jump to picturing yourself in a coffin and imagining different ways to die and then all of a sudden, you’ve got your will written in your head, the funeral’s been planned, and the thought of your own death no longer repels you. It happens very slowly and you think you’ve got a pretty good handle on it—it’s not going to get out of control, you’re not going to become a statistic.
And then you wake up one day and you realize all you’ve thought about every morning upon waking for the last three months, six months, a year, is your plan. People tend to paint suicide as a selfish act, thinking that the person in question simply doesn’t care about who their death will hurt. That’s not entirely accurate. When you get to that point, where you’re thinking about it–really thinking about it–you might still sincerely care about your loved ones. It’s just that the pain has become overwhelming, all-consuming, and you’re desperate for a way out.
I read somewhere that suicide occurs when the pain exceeds a person’s resources for coping, and it sounds fairly accurate. So far, I haven’t quite gotten to that point, but I’ve felt the desperation nipping at my heels more than once. I’ve been able to fight it off every time, but I’d be lying if I said part of me isn’t afraid that the time will come when I’m not so lucky.
Because once you’ve thought of those things, it can be incredibly difficult to turn them off. I think it’s probably like what they say about alcoholics—you’re battling it for the rest of your life, except the addiction in this case is thinking about your own death.
So it goes.