The Case Against Suicide

I am in five 12-step programs and sometimes I meet people who ask me why they should not commit suicide.

I usually share from my experience. From 1988 to 1993, I was bedridden about 20 hours a day on average with a mysterious disease that was eventually given the name Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. For most of this time, I despaired about ever getting well and I sometimes wished I would die (I never allowed myself to take any steps to bringing this about or contemplating a plan to do this). About four years into this nightmare, I became convinced that not only could I and my current doctors not figure a way out of this mess, neither could anyone in my circle find me a way out. But I was convinced there were people out there who could help me and that meeting as many people as possible was the way to go.

So I made an effort to connect with old friends, tried to form new ones, and I placed a ton of singles ads, talked to a ton of women, and some of them were interested in me and drove and flew to me. One took me back to Orlando, Florida with her in August of 1993 and took me to her psychiatrist who eventually gave me a medication (nardil) that set me on the path towards two-thirds of a recovery.

I am sure there are things that I could do right now that would significantly improve my life. I just have to meet more people, whether in real life or online, who might have useful suggestions for me (or I need to deepen my connection with people I’m already acquainted with who can show me a path out of what is normal for me).

From my first meeting in various 12-step programs I saw there was a path out of a problem I was having. I saw there were things I could do right now to improve my lot. For instance, I could give up some bad habits and take up some good habits. I could clean and organize my room, vacuum my car, wash it, track my spending and earning, become clear on the parts of my life that were unmanageable, and any time I needed to, there were either face-to-face meetings or 12-step meetings or inspiring recovery talks that I could tune into and experience God. To me, 12-step meetings are God with skin. I go to a meeting and from the most unlikely people, I hear the voice of God. I hear what I need. And I see a way forward.

Is there anything that makes you feel good? Such as cleaning your room, going to work, reading a book, exercise, yoga, attendance at church or synagogue, hanging out with friends, going to a meeting, etc? By stacking good things on top of each other and reducing the things that make us feel bad we can move ahead. We all have things we can do that are healthy and make us feel good.

From 2002 to 2009, the most common thing I said to myself was, “I’m f***ed.” I never speak to myself that way anymore. There’s nothing that haunts me from my past. I rarely have drama and never feel hysterical.

I meet people who are haunted by mistakes from their past. I used to be the same way. But all those things that used to haunt me, they don’t haunt me anymore. When I did a resentment inventory and a fear inventory in Step Four, I discovered that the people I feared the most were the people I resented the most, and they were invariably people I had wronged and so I had a rational reason to fear them. As I cleaned up the wreckage from my past, my fears and resentments went away and so did that haunted feeling.

If you have the strength to clean your room, you have the strength to progress in the 12 Steps. If you can get to a meeting, you can get to recovery, and most of the time, a meeting is only a phone call away. God is only a phone call away. Most people don’t know that, but if you have 12 Step experience, you know that. You can access God in ways that normies don’t know. Addicts are ahead of the game. We know that we either access God or we’ll die.

The case against suicide? There is so much more in the universe than we know right now. The common factor in our trauma is our consciousness. That’s the common denominator in all of our suffering. So how can we move beyond our limits? How can we connect with the transcendent? In my experience, problems we can’t solve on our own power are taken away when we connect with other people, with our true selves, and with God. And with a 12-step program, there are detailed instructions on how to do this.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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