Best-Of Advice

On understanding suicide

Three years ago my brother tried to commit suicide. He was fifteen then, which is how old I am now. A month ago he tried to kill himself again. He came home from the hospital a week ago, and I’m ecstatic to have him back again, but I’m also extremely angry at him. He didn’t see my mom just about die or my dad break down, or my sister fly halfway across the country to come home for him. My family almost fell apart over this, and it kills me to know that, and I know that if he knew that it would hurt him too. 

For three years I’ve been trying to figure out why he tried to kill himself, and I still can’t grasp it. I understand depression and I deal with SAD myself, but I just can’t see why he hates his life so, so much. We live a lovely life, he’s a smart kid, and extremely popular. People adore him. And more importantly, we love him. So I just don’t understand why my brother hates his life so much.

Am I being selfish or ignorant? How can I understand my brother better? I’d really like to.


You say you want to understand your brother, but I get the feeling that you’d rather your brother just understand you.

You’re angry, and you want him to see the world as you see it. You want him to acknowledge his lovely life, his popularity, and how much he is adored.

In your mind, you think those external conditions are enough to keep him from wanting to kill himself. You’re the type who says, “If only he knew how much we loved him, he wouldn’t want to kill himself.”

You couldn’t be more wrong. This isn’t about you.

Once again, this isn’t about you. You have to know that. It has to be your guiding principle when talking with your brother about this.

Don’t assume that he hates his life. Those are your words. Did you ask him why he attempted suicide? Don’t assume that he feels popular or adored just because you see him that way. Do you know how your brother feels about himself?

Ask him.

Start a conversation with him. Don’t challenge him. Don’t try and help him. Don’t even come from a place where you assume he needs help. Just come from a place of unconditional love.

If you want to understand your brother, talk to him about life and death rather than his suicide attempts. Talk to him about love and relationships rather than his popularity. Talk to him about his purpose and his future rather than his depression.

We’re all going to die one day. The fact that your brother tried to speed up the process probably isn’t the most interesting thing about him. Find out what is.


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