Why? The Glass Full of Water

Survivors of Suicide Loss Support Group - Madison, NJ

Posted: Jul 8, 2015

The one question that most suicide survivors want an answer to is Why? Why did my loved one end their life? Why now?

Over 90% of people that die by suicide have a diagnosable mental health issue such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. While not all of them had sought or received treatment for these issues, many had been dealing quietly with their issues for years. They have been carrying the burden of their struggles. They may not have shared their burden with us , or if they did, they did not allow us to help them with their burden.

One analogy that I have heard is that their life was like a glass of water. Everyday a little more stress or pressure is added to glass they were carrying, just like you fill a water glass. While some is removed and some evaporates, there is always some residual water left in the glass. After a while, the glass ends up filled to the brim. The glass is filled with a lifetime of unresolved issues and pressures that did not evaporate or go away. While we may not have seen the glass filling, it was.

Finally one last drop of water enters the glass. It really does not matter what that last drop was, because the glass was already filled to the brim. The glass can no longer contain all of the water and it overflows quickly.

Many try to find a cause to blame the suicide on, a single event that they can blame for the suicide of their loved one. Their search for "Why" is unfortunately focused on the "last drop". The cause of the sudden overflow of the glass and the loss of their loved one is truly caused by the glass full of issues their loved one was carrying around. All of the drops of water lead to their death, not just the "last drop".

Another away of looking at the same glass is told by this story:

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they'd be asked the "half empty or half full" question.

Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: ..."How heavy is this glass of water?"

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

She continued, "The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything."

So when we go back and try to answer the question Why? It basically comes down to a glass of water. It was too full, too heavy and they were no longer able to contain and hold it any longer. The burden , the hopelessness and their struggle were more then they could carry.

The last drop is not the "Why". The "Why" is the overwhelming need to end their pain and suffering that our loved ones felt.

Their glass was just too full...