With Kate Spade’s recent passing, suicide is top of mind for many. There is lots of discussion (a good thing!), some “shoulding”–such as “she should’ve reached out for help!” (a judgmental reaction), and a fair amount of victim blaming (a really judgmental reaction). This situation brought to my mind something people don’t typically talk about: is that most people with burnout consider suicide. In fact, many create a plan and some follow through.
To be 100% clear, this is not about Kate Spade. I have zero insight into her situation. I want to share the insight I do have around burnout and suicide.
In fact, when I was discussing this article with a friend of mine she was surprised. She said she didn’t make the connection between burnout and feeling so hopeless that you were considering suicide.
What is so staggering to me is this: over half of the people I talk to with burnout mention some form of suicidal thoughts in our initial conversation, and nearly everyone admits to it when I specifically ask.
Yes, nearly everyone.
These are people who–from the outside–look like everything is going great. These are smart, accomplished people with “everything to live for.” These are the “last people you’d expect” of feeling this way.
Burnout is exhaustion (physical, emotional, mental, &/or spiritual) caused by prolonged stress or frustration. It exists on a spectrum–from brownout to burnout. It affects every part of life, including your perceptions.
Your perceptions create your reality. A person in burnout has a hard time seeing positive possibilities, and when they do it is very, very hard for them to believe that they might happen. In effect, due to the stress and burnout induced changes in perception, they create an increasingly bleak reality. They can point to lots of evidence that supports their point of view, which adds to the feeling of being trapped.
I know, I’ve been there.
I was in full-blown burnout and looking for a way out. I wasn’t getting answers, and I wasn’t seeing how this could possibly turn around.
No amount of well-intentioned loved ones pointing out other evidence helps. Doing what they used to do to feel better doesn’t help much anymore. It is nigh on impossible to bootstrap your way out of burnout, which only adds to the perception of being trapped with no way out.
If in crisis, please call the suicide prevention hotline in your area. In the United States, call:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.
If not in immediate crisis, there are many options for people in this situation. I suggest seeing a qualified health care practitioner to get physical health issues ruled out &/or addressed and seeing a qualified mental health professional for support. Then, do what you can to reduce stress–starting with eating well, reducing caffeine, sleeping at least 8 hours a night, and taking time just for you.
If you have already done those things and are still experiencing suicidal thoughts or urges, I invite you to consider adding alternative approaches, such as belief clearing, karmatic healing, or energy clearing.
I have had the privilege of helping people with suicidal thoughts reconnect to their joy of life. I wish I’d known about (and been open to) alternative approaches when I was going through this.
There is help. There is hope.