Dr Judith Orloff's Blog

What Intuition Reveals about Suicide

Judith Orloff - Monday, July 27, 2009

Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s NY Times bestseller “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life” (Three Rivers Press, 2011)

Dear Community,

I wanted to share with you my intuitive take on suicide in this excerpt from "Emotional Freedom." Feel free to share with friends or whoever can benefit.

In healing,

Suicide: A Perspective Beyond Time and Space

The dark night of all dark nights is the hopelessness of wanting to die.

In this state, you can see no promised land beyond depression.

Over the years, several of my patients have attempted suicide. One did die: a heavy metal rocker with a sapphire-blue Mohawk and a sensitive soul. But super-stardom could never allay his depression or persistent back pain for which none of the many specialists he consulted could locate a medical cause. Legions of fans revered him, but he didn’t revere himself. He felt happy and pain-free only on stage, immersed in his music and adulation. When he killed himself, we hadn’t met for many months, but I was deeply saddened. I’d been his safe place for two years; we’d been very close. I did everything I could think of to help him, but he was on a runaway course. Plus, he was surrounded by shark-like managers who urged him to go on tour despite his precarious condition. Intellectually, I realized all this, but still I lamented my inability to save his life. I’ll always miss him. I’ll always recall those days I’d visited him after a previous suicide attempt. He was on a locked psychiatric ward along with others who were psychotic, suicidal, and homicidal. To me, it’s a crime to put someone who’s depressed in with that mix. I wish I could’ve sent him to a peaceful retreat with sunlit porches and hammocks to dream on. But our mental health system isn’t organized like that. All those needing intensive care go to the same hellish ward in traditional hospitals. So I saw him there until he was no longer suicidal. Against my advice he went back on the road too soon. I was greatly afraid for him. Then, four months later, I got the call: he was found dead in his London hotel room after slashing his wrists.

Most suicides are preventable with skilled interventions. I know people--including those on a spiritual path--who at dark times have considered taking their lives. (Suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death among Americans.) If you’ve had these thoughts, they’re nothing to be ashamed of. But I also know that suicide isn’t the answer. Freedom comes when you persist in searching for the light until it’s visible again.

In service to our growth, life asks an extraordinary amount of us. That used to anger me. Some situations seemed unendurable. Watching my ebullient, talented mother waste away from cancer, struggling to find strength to be there for her without disintegrating, I’d inwardly protest, “I can’t do it. I don’t have it in me.” But I did--and had to see that. So must you. Try to keep reaching beyond pain towards a greater power within. My spiritual teacher says, “Heaven is not a dead-end road.” With hope and the proper support, you will find it.

For years I believed suicide was an option we had the right to choose if things got rotten enough. I no longer feel this way except, possibly, with terminal patients in constant physical agony. From deepening my intuition, I came to realize that holding onto suicide as an out separated me from the essence of living. A commitment to staying in my body through it all was mandatory for being fully alive. Thus, to be more present, I’ve vowed to follow the wisdom of whatever life brings.

Weigh this critical point: Leaving your body doesn’t make emotional challenges disappear. The soul’s work continues. What I intuitively sense about its destinations is that who you are here is who you’ll be there too, albeit without the physical form you’re accustomed to identifying with. I don’t mean this punitively. I’m simply saying you’ll eventually have to face your demons. Personally, I’d rather do it now than drag out the ordeal. I prefer to go onto other things. For those who believe in past lives, facing the self is unavoidable. Whether now or in distant eons, you must do it. This is good. This is purifying.

I’ve had an ex-boyfriend and some acquaintances commit suicide when depression became unbearable. Two by overdosing, one with a gun. Though I wasn’t in regular contact with these people at the time they took their lives, I was notified by mutual friends the day each suicide happened. While I was shaken by both these losses and the terrible desperation that must have occasioned them, I was also curious about where these people went and their subsequent state of being. So I tuned in, simultaneously inquisitive and anticipatorily weary about the kinds of pain I’d encounter. What did I find? None of them were in places I’d ever want to be, and each felt utterly lost. Always there was severe confusion, a swirling-through-limbo vertigo that made me nauseous. Where they were at felt like the alarming, abrupt plummeting of an airplane during turbulence--but cube that by the speed of light and picture if it didn’t let up. Still, despite the dire straits they were all clearly in, I also intuited a beneficent force surrounding them, though it didn’t seem as if they recognized it. They felt totally alone. When tuning into the lawyer who’d shot herself in the head, I found her disorientation was so jolting I could barely stay with it. This panicked woman had no idea where she was. Dizzying, disjointed memories of her life were bombarding her at such speed, “overwhelmed” didn’t begin to describe her condition. I suspect it took a while to find her bearings and proceed to a calmer place. From what I could intuit, the violence of her suicide made the transition even more chaotic. Once I got the gist of her experience, I wanted out of that vision so I didn’t risk absorbing such angst.

I share my perceptions with you to offer what I sensed about suicide. As you can see, it may not be a way out of anything, as many depression sufferers envision. Though the pain in question may be temporarily put on the back burner, suicide seems to create another set of problems and a tumultuous journey. Even so, I’m certain that the soul eventually finds clarity and gets all the chances it needs to master emotional obstacles.

My duty as physician and healer is to talk people out of suicide. I can be effective  because I absolutely know there’s hope for everyone and that depression is a distortion. It swallows the light, making misery seem like the only truth. But it is not. You must remember that. If ever suicide starts looking good, stop, regroup, and fight to find hope. Reach out for help. Don’t be seduced by the voice of depression.


Judith Orloff, MD is author of The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People, upon which her articles are based. Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist, an empath, and is on the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty. She synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff also specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice. Dr. Orloff’s work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, the Oprah Magazine and USA Today. She is a New York Times best-selling author of Emotional Freedom, The Power of Surrender, Second Sight, Positive Energy, and Guide to Intuitive Healing. Connect with Judith on  Facebook and  Twitter. To learn more about empaths and her free empath support newsletter as well as Dr. Orloff's books and workshop schedule, visit her website.

Michael David Lawrience commented on 29-Jul-2009 12:17 AM
I agree that after death & also death from suicide we still exist in another realm. As an energy healer, I have had contact with such souls. The emotional challenges these souls faced on Earth still carry over with added pain and suffering because the soul is lost and confused. The following illustrates a few ideas about suicide from a book I am writing on healing emotional trauma, Transforming Your Emotions.

"Suicide . . . interferes with soul purpose," says Alice Bailey, Esoteric Healing.

One of the “Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind” in Buddhism focuses on the preciousness of human life. With obtaining a human birth, the ending of suffering becomes possible and gateway for liberation opens.

If we end our life through suicide, we obstruct the fulfillment of our soul’s purpose for that lifetime. Alice Bailey who founded a school of esoteric teaching at the age of 15 attempted suicide because of an unhappy childhood. A mysterious stranger walked into her room, sat beside her, and stated she should prepare herself for an important mission. Bailey through Lucis Trust produced 24 books, which have greatly contributed to knowledge of the hidden truths behind all religions.

Esotericists who study hidden knowledge have seen where human souls go after death. One of these, Rudolph Steiner, an Austrian philosopher and educator, talks about the afterlife state of someone who has committed suicide. "When the separation is as sudden and violent as it is with the suicide . . . then immediately after death he feels the loss of the physical body very keenly and this causes terrible pains . . . the suicide feels as though he had been plucked out of himself . . . his feeling of deprivation when he finds himself without a body is unspeakably severe."

Malin commented on 01-Aug-2009 10:12 AM
I totally agree with everytning you say, Judith. I do believe in grace, in praying, in asking for help, in trusting the flow of life... The only problem is... what works for you and so many other peope doesn´t seem to work for me.
Believe me,I´ve asked for help. I prayed. I trusted for 44 years. (and I am in therapy!) But the inner pain and loneliness I've felt since I was 4 years old doesn't go away. It's very much the same. Or worse.
In the comments to your thoughts about suicide one of your readers writes about Alice Baileys suicidieattempt "A mysterious stranger walked in to her room, sat beside her and stated that she should prepare herself for an important mission." That´s great. But what about the ones who doesn´t get to see a mysterious stranger, who are just left alone in our pain?

When I made my suicide attempt four years ago I called alot of people and asked for help, but no one came, and I stayed in my apartment alone for three months.
During that time I prayed intensivly but God was extremely quiet...How come some people get to see a mysterious strangers and others are just left lying in their own vomits, in total silence? I can´t help but think that god is very selective when it comes to answering in an understandable manner.
Sorry if I sound sarcastic. I am just very, very tired right now. I wanted so much to live a positive, loving life and to connect with god. But it doesn´t seem to happen.
Anyway. Thank you so much for your work. It has meant alot to me.
Malin, Sweden

D.Scott Arant commented on 06-Aug-2009 09:01 AM
Beautiful article. Thanks so much. It is heart rendering to say the least when one of your loved ones wants to end their life. This dissertation on suicide is very good and allows one to feel hope on a higher level of consciousness.
Jannette Wright commented on 25-Sep-2009 12:11 PM
also being an intuitive empath, I was depressed most of my life,living with the darkness..something happened quite miraculously.. I rode a ride called the slingshot at a state fair.. it flung one into the air at a startlingly fast speed.. afterwards no depression whatsoever!!! I think it was a natural shock therapy I encourage all to do it.. what do you have to lose but the darkness..I wish inner peace to all..love and light Jannette
Jasmine commented on 28-Dec-2009 04:19 PM
I discovered you today on Barnes and Nobles. I was looking for a book on how to control emotions and your book was among the titles that came up. Even though I haven't purchased your book; reading the excerpts from your book and reading the above entry brings a sense of calmness to me. I can feel the sincerity through your words. This is something you're passionate about. Helping people is a beautiful thing.

I hope more people find your website and books to help them get through the inner turmoil they are experiencing.
Joyce Rosa commented on 10-Jan-2010 08:28 PM
In "Native American PostColonial Psychology" by Duran & Duran it states, "Suicide has not always carried the stigma that it presently has within the traditional community. There were ways in which an individual could cross over if s/he decided to end his/her life. The approach to suicide varied from tribe to tribe, and it is best to conuslt with traditional healers in order to become better versed in the area of suicide in a traditional context" (178). "Cross over" from my perspective does not sound like it is a violent act as is most suicide. Please don't take this one quote out of context as there is other discussion about suicide and the loss of balance.
I would love to discuss why the mental health system is so disorganized with you Dr. Judith. I found an article written by you in Psychic Reader which led me to your site.
SherwinJTB commented on 02-Apr-2010 09:55 AM
Peer pressure has a tremendous amount of pressure on people. Kind of like my father who is always worried in what to tell my relatives about me. I am tired of having to live up to other people's expectations. I just want to live the way I want and be happy. Talking about it helps, but nothing will change unless the environment does. Sending people to a psychiatric ward isn't exactly the best solution.
Suicide Prevention in Your Life
Thiruvur Niranjan commented on 09-Dec-2011 05:22 PM
Dear Dr Orloff, I came across your website after a google search. Before today, I was vaguely aware of you through Huffington Post. I had posted a comment on your facebook page to which you had kindly answered. I have two questions: One, I do seem to have
an intuitive ability as far as dreams are concerned - I was guided in the past like I mentioned. Now I seem to be in a rut and am not able to dream, and so get guidance. I have, for the past 1.5 years, tried for dreams to guide me, but am not able to get anything.
Am I trying too hard? Should I relax and trust that it will come to me naturally? I find it difficult to relax as it has been so many months without a job - I am a researcher, with a Ph.D in Biochemistry. Second, I have the awful feeling that I am an emotional
vampire after reading your website. I feel terrible about it. How can I overcome it if I am one? My wife and I are estranged, because she says I am needy and she says she cannot cope any longer. I truly love her, but am not able to show her that I do. She
thinks everything I do is out of "want". How do I solve these problems? I live in NYC, do you know anyone like you here - who is not a "traditional" psychiatrist, but one who is intuitive. I am sorry if I appear to be intruding and if I am asking too much.
I just want to repair my life as soon as I can. Thanks, and have a nice weekend!
Connie Nelson Ahlberg commented on 25-Feb-2012 03:12 PM
Dear Dr. Orloff, Thank you for posting this piece on suicide. I'm quite low today--and feel lifted reading it as it coincides with what I've read about those who have committed suicide. I think I'm going out in the MN sun and try to ditch Eeyore! Blessings,
Connie Nelson Ahlberg Creative Writer / Poet
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paulette commented on 14-Aug-2012 11:34 AM
thank for sharing, i used to be fill with suicidal thoughts , and overdose on pills regularly,once it got really bad. i read a book on inner child by john bradshaw, and i finally realized it was my inner child pain i was trying to block, i did not want
to hear and feel her pain so i overdose, i just thought that extreme pain and sadness, was me and it will never leave, i also try so hard to block my feelings, that fear, anger, sadness and frustration, just felt like depression and pain, soo i started to
try to identify, my feelings and i listen to songs that was suppose to be bad songs , actually rock song that talk about suicide help identify, what emotion felt like i will get soo excited to identify each emotion , i will be oh i am sad and then talk to
my inner child about the sadness, hip hop song help me identify anger, then my next thing was to identify what love and joy feel like, i block that too, it felt like nervousness to me , music help, love song with lyrics that i thought was stupid, my inner
child wanted to hear those words from me, that i will never hurt her, i will always love her ,i will support, that i will never leave her and that she is beautiful. also being an empath and picking other people stuff and thinking it was all mind, was also
a huge problem and worst yet most felt like physical pain since i could not identify emotion , now i can identify people stuff in my body like chest pain mean the person was sad, at present i am reading your book , emotional free and i love it and your writing
style is so kind and friendly that i feel like a best friend is chatting with me. thank u
Kathryn commented on 17-Jan-2017 11:23 PM
I am an empath. For three months I have been trapped in this foreign abyss after my partners brother committed suicide. Please tell me how to get out.

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