There has been a lot of confusion and misconception about my stance on suicide. Specifically what my stance is and why...
To be crystal clear — I am against suicide. My ultimate goal is to help people who feel suicidal to get back in touch with the desire to live and the belief that their lives can feel good instead. Hence why I did a video specifically to help people who are struggling with suicidal feelings and thoughts. It is a topic that touches me on a very personal level; therefore I cannot express my level of caring towards people who are suicidal and my level of desire for them to enjoy life instead.
The standard, mainstream approach in the psychology field to suicidality and mental illness does not work as well as it needs to and even they know it. I’m not the only person saying this. If it worked, people wouldn’t be looking for alternatives. This is the reason that psychologists and psychiatrists flock to my trainings to learn new methods for approaching mental illness. Just this week, the head of the University of Pennsylvania mental health services committed suicide. It is an epidemic that we all need to solve together and we need to get really creative to do that. Having attempted suicide myself and spent years suicidal and having worked with people who are suicidal for years and having access to the ‘extrasensory’ information about the way that people’s thoughts and emotions really work, I can tell you that the standard approach doesn’t work.
The perspective of someone who is suicidal is unfathomable to most people. And actually understanding their perspective is critical if you want to change it in any way. Suicidal people are in so much torture in life that death feels like relief to them. They don’t see death like most people do. They see it as a “cry for mercy escape hatch that stops all the pain”. Mainstream mental health professionals would say we need to encourage suicidal people to put that feeling and perspective out of their minds and focus on the goodness of life. But this approach actually makes suicidal people feel worse. People who are genuinely suicidal are constantly rehearsing suicide, whether you are aware of it or not. If they are sitting in a room, they are thinking about the multiple ways they could do it and running through it in their heads. This, on top of choosing the way they would choose to do it if it were planned, is an unconscious rehearsal process much like day-dreaming. It brings them relief to think about. Telling them not to think about suicide doesn’t work anymore than telling someone not to worry about what they are worried about. Telling them not to do it because if they do, they will ruin other people’s lives doesn’t work to make them feel better. It makes them feel worse because now, on top of being in so much pain that they want to die, they are made to feel worse by the pressure of guilt and the responsibility for how other people feel. What if there was another way that worked better? An approach that seemed counterintuitive to people who are on the outside looking in? What if we said to them, “sitting here in this safe space, let me humor you for a moment.” -- And we consciously play out the tragedy of it all and what happens afterward regarding their family and friends and we play out the “what then” after the initial relief they think they are going to get through death. What if this kind of counterintuitive approach allows suicidal people to understand that suicide isn’t the answer they are looking for. What if they also clearly see that they don’t really want death; they just want life to feel better, which they feel totally powerless to making happen. What if this counterintuitive approach is what will help them clearly see that the best choice is to commit to life?
There is a push right now for it to only be legal for licensed professionals who are trained by way of mainstream education to be speaking about and treating the mind and emotions. I’ve always been clear — and I’ll say it again now — I’m not a trained doctor or psychologist. I’m a personal development revolutionary and a spiritual leader. While I can appreciate the risk of people who really don’t know what they are doing, doing more damage, this scares me. This scares me because there is a huge conflict between professionals who think the brain gives rise to consciousness and professionals who think consciousness exists beyond the brain and in fact gives rise to the brain itself. Because of this argument, problems with thoughts and feelings can’t be classified as purely a medical concern related to the brain. It also scares me because of how backwards the mental health field is at this time. Let’s not forget that all medical students at one time (and for a long period of time) were taught that bloodletting was the way to heal someone from illness. This as we know, killed them. It just never occurs to us that psychology and psychiatry students are learning things that are equally as de-railed today. This scares me because it closes the door to many fields of thought, many of which have better answers. This scares me because it means that spiritual teachers and people who have found amazing cures themselves who want to share what worked for them with the world and self help experts would now be prevented from their purpose and unable to do what they do. Imagine telling the Dalai Lama or Socrates or Eckhart Tolle or Anthony Robbins “it’s not ok for you to talk about depression, in fact we can fine you for practicing therapy without a license if you try to help someone with it because you’re not a psychologist”. On top of this, it is a scary world we are coming to if someone has overcome suicidality and no one is interested in hearing their perspective on how they did that because they are not a psychologist themselves. The way the world is headed today, if an extraterrestrial being landed on earth with the answers for mankind, he would be asked for credentials and then turned against.
I am in a very difficult position teaching about suicide as a spiritual leader because my theories often differ from the mainstream psychological community. This focus that people in the media have put on me in relation to suicide has painted the opposite picture of me than is the reality. They never speak about the psychologists and psychiatrists who specifically seek me out because they agree with me and see what I’m doing as a step forward for the mental health field. They don’t interview the abundance of people who say their lives were saved by my material. What they do not get is that when I talk about suicide, everything I say demonstrates that I get people who are suicidal better than anyone else does. Therefore, more and more suicidal people come to my events and social media platform every day. I would welcome this except now I find myself in slippery territory. I now have a disproportionate amount of suicidal people being driven to me in droves and am being told that if any of them commit suicide, I may be held responsible. The reality is that overcoming suicidality is about changing a person’s life circumstances so their life feels good instead of bad. As much as I want to, it is impossible for me to personally make sure that each of the millions of people that watch my videos or are part of my social media platforms are doing that. Therefore, it is impossible to guarantee that no matter how much I may want to or try to help, someone who begins to follow my material might commit suicide. And I grieve every single one, because suicide is a tragedy. Its painful ripple effects are astronomical. All this being said, it is my opinion that our attitude towards suicide and our unwillingness to explore the right way to approach suicidality is reflective of our own fear of death. That fear might just be preventing us from exploring the perspective that suicidal people hold deeply enough to figure out what does really work for them, which in my experience is distinctly different from what we think will or should work for them.
I am getting the message that it is better to not take any risk by not talking about suicide at all. What does this say about our society today? This ‘taboo’ we have painted around suicide, paints suicidal people themselves as taboo, which is something I am unwilling to do. I do not want to fight the mainstream mental health system. I want healing to be integrative and that includes those from a clinical background. But I am compelled to represent these individuals and what I think they truly need, which is not something that society is currently recognizing. People don’t want to die. They just want to stop hurting. Unfortunately, they feel so powerless to create a life that feels good instead of hurts that they think dying is the only way they can stop hurting. And we need to stop approaching them with methods that are intended to help them feel better, but that instead hurt them worse.