"The darkness brings me home, rewarding me with peace"

Stages of the suicide process

The so-called presuicidal syndrome was first described in 1958 by the psychiatrist Erwin Ringel. In his theory, he describes the process of going suicidal in three separate phases:

In the first phase, the individual contemplates self-destruction as a possible form of getting out from a difficult—or seemingly hopeless—problematic situation, and has fantasies about suicide. Emotional emptiness, narrowness can be experienced in this phase: the individual does not find any delight in those things they used to enjoy.

The second phase is characterised by ambivalence: the individual is struggling between suicidal thoughts, tendencies and the instinct of staying alive. Typically this is that stage of the process when—direct or indirect—”cry for help” behaviour is visible; the individual tries to communicate what they experience inside and what they are about to do. The suicidal person turns his or her agression inside,


third phase

begins when the individual makes the decision of committing suicide. In this stage, “calm before the storm” can be seen. The individual seems to be much more calm, balanced and optimistic than they used to be in the period before. Preparations are made for “doing the deed”; planning, occasionally attempted suicide.

The length of these three stages may differ from person to person, depending on the personality, the basic psychical disorder and outer circumstances. (This might mean that one person needs only a few weeks to get through all the phases, while someone else needs years to get from the “what if I killed myself?…” stage to the directly suicidal act.)

Why are suicidal instincts so often hidden from the environment?

There are many cases in which the suicidal act is sudden and shocking for the environment. Quite a few suicidal persons hide their emotions very well, and this does not happen without a reason. Circumstances which lead to suicidal thoughts and acts are usually led by extreme feelings of guilt, shame and worthlessness which are too painful to talk about—therefore suicidal persons hide these emotions as long as possible.

Resources I used:

Hva skjer når en person bestemmer seg for å ta sitt eget liv?—(”What happens when a person decides to take their own life?”—no)
A lélek egészségvédelme: krí­zis, krízishelyzet és öngyilkosság (”Healthcare of the soul: crisis, critical situation and suicide—hu)

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