One of the main reasons why people with severe mental illness desire to die is because they are trapped in painful circumstances.
Unpleasant situations that we feel trapped into can be very uncomfortable and painful to each and every one of us. However, when we lack the means and knowledge to cope and escape those situations in times when they become very uncomfortable, painful, and unbearable for us, we will lose our rationale and feel compelled to leave the circumstance by any means necessary. We will become as irrational and as brutally necessary just so we can get out of that situation. And this can and will happen to anyone in such circumstances- ranging from the most mentally disturbed and frustrated to the most noble and mild tempered.
This idea is what I call the Universal Phenomenon of Entrapment and Distress, which declares the following:
Any person in a very stressful situation will inevitable act irrationally, provided that there is no escape from the stressful situation.
Usually, there have to be 3 basic elements in a stressful situation for a person to undergo this phenomenon:
1) A distress agent (person or circumstance that causes distress)
2) A current distressful situation
3) One or more alternatives to avoid the distressful situation which also cause(s) severe distress.
This phenomenon is also characterized by two basic psychological, sociological, and psycho-social factors:
2) Entrapment (usually involuntary)
Consider the cases of women who murder their controlling, physically and verbally abusive spouses out of frustration arising from two feasible scenarios: 1) continuation of taking recurrent mistreatment from the husband, or 2) leaving the abusive husband behind to live homeless, and no one to look after her nor assist her. Also consider the growing number of teenagers in school who are victims of bullying at their school who see no other exit to their distress than taking the bullying and holding in the resulting frustration (imploding), or murdering their own peers (exploding). The previous two scenarios are examples where the Phenomenon of Entrapment and Insanity can be seen in that none of the possible alternative scenarios provide relief from the elevated stress, hence entrapment. It is an ironic, and at the same time unjust fact of life, however, that the once victimized and innocent abused wife and bullied teen would then become the victimizers of their predators. And because they become victimizers out of severe desperation and stress, with little measure to their actions, it is they who become penalized by authorities and the law, and not the more cunning abusive husband or school bullies whose abuses come from a milder and more subtle malice that helps them to conceal their transgressions and go unpunished. Such was the case of a Center Grove High School freshman in the 2005-2006 school year. The freshman was so frustrated with being bullied by popular athletes in the school that he discussed ways to murder them with his peers at a school bus. A handful of tattletales, who knew how tormented this poor freshman was, turned him in. This, unfortunately, led the student to jail. He was tried as an adult, and his name and photograph was on newspapers. Unfortunately, nobody knew who his bullies were. All that their coach could do was to give his entire athletic team an anti-bullying speech. Furthermore, the tattletales who reported him also reported on Center Grove TV and the school’s newspaper that they knew how tormented he was and how badly he was bullied, and yet did nothing to help him. Coincidentally, the very same day that the freshman’s incident had shocked the entire school and the entire community, Fox 59 News Channel was supposed to come to Center Grove, as it did every year in the spring. It was going to feature Center Grove sports, athletes, and cheerleaders in its news channel. However, because they found out of the freshman arrest incident that swept Center Grove, Fox 59 did not go to the school at all, nor did it feature the sports and athletics that made the entire school so proud. And arrogant. Finally, some justice had been served! Of course, Center Grove students and teachers alike were angry at Fox 59, except me, of course. The “we don’t need Fox 59” slogan was spread in the school newspaper, Facebook groups, and the school TV news. But the bullied freshman who was arrested was only criticized, denigrated, and put into shame.
The above examples of women murdering abusive husbands and teenagers killing their peers are extreme examples of distress, of course. However, these are only distinguished from mundane, everyday situations of stress not only by their catastrophic end result, but by their level of intensity and by the entrapment factor. The bullied and arrested freshman from Center Grove, for example, probably became hostile not because he was flawed in character, nor because he was a bad person. He became hostile because he was entraped by a very stressful situation that he did not know how nor see how he could cope with effectively, especially at his young age. Obviously, his actions are not justifiable. Still, his lack of ability or means to escape or cope with the situation which inevitably lead to his violent behavior.
It doesn‘t matter who you are, nor what religion you practice, nor the amount of kindness and conscientiousness that make up your character- if you experience negative stress with high levels of intensity and tight entrapment, your rationale and reputable character will suffer. You will do things that will embarass you or shock you, or that will embarass and shock others. You will forget about morals you‘ve learned in better times past, will step over those who surround you, and will cause havoc to many or all aspects of your life and your surroundings- only to reach and end of tranquility and peace of mind.
Mental illnesses and the serious medical, social, and psychological problems that they come with can be just as strenuous and distressful as having school bullies or abusive husbands chipping at your shoulder daily. In fact, these kinds of situations often overlap. And it is usually abused women or bullied school students with severe mental illness who lack the tools, knowledge, or self-control that are necessary to surmount the issues that lead to their crimes. It is indeed good news that pharmaceutical treatments and therapeutic methods and strategies have been designed to help people in with these behavioral, emotional, and mental struggles. However, world governments and clinicians often neglect and overlook the merely partial helpfulness of all psychiatric resources combined when they stand by their commitment to prevent suicide and maintain Dr. Assisted Suicide for the Mentally Ill outlawed. Most social worker visits, therapy sessions, and medication intake will be useless if, for example, a domestically abused woman has no exit from her troubled life other than the options of enduring domestic abuse at home, or facing hunger and loneliness in the streets. Psychiatric resources would be just as useless if the bullied high school student is still surrounded by classmates and peers who stubbornly choose to mistreat him, disrespect him, and devaluate him in every possible way. They would also be useless if such mistreatment at school led the student to seek shelter in homeschooling, only to replace the mistreatment with extreme social isolation that would intensify his depression and would further shatter his self-esteem.
It is a mental health resource consumer’s responsibility to use available resources to recover from mental illness or emotional/mental disturbances. It is also the responsibility of the people who surround the consumer, however, to create a supportive environment where he can be accepted, respected, embraced, and tolerated. Anti-suicide activists and people who oppose to Dr. Assisted Suicide often stress the previous responsibility outspokenly, but neglect the latter irresponsibly (as did Valerina Valerie in her premature and poorly meditated efforts to confront my suicidal urges in the past, as discussed in my previous post). If no effective escape or sound relief efforts are provided for seriously mentally ill people in dire circumstances, and if they lack the social support that they are not getting from selfish, ignorant people in their surroundings, then the mentally ill are in every right to choose to end their lives as a last resort. The current outlawing of this personal decision, however, will most likely increase the emotional distress that leads circumstantially-entrapped consumers to engage in crimes and violence as desperate measures of escape, and it is only the anti-suicide activists and policy makers who will be to blame for their ineffective, restrictive problem-solving mechanisms.