Suicide Prevention: Part V: The Courage to Live

The Choice to Live is an Act of Courage

There are all kinds of courageous men and women who risk their lives on the battlefield or in other kinds of service to the community, such as police officers, firefighters; and those who work for the FBI and CIA. Those who sacrifice their lives for their country or another human being display the utmost form of courage. I would like to discuss other kinds of courage, which, perhaps, are not as obvious as the ones I have mentioned.

I propose that if a person cannot overcome a problem by changing it, then enduring it should be seen as an act of courage. Enduring chronic conditions or diseases, such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, are acts of courage. A person who has lost the use of his or her arms and legs, and has to endure those conditions for the remainder of his or her life, is living courageously.

There are many other examples of courageous living, even though they may go unnoticed. Sometimes, just getting out of bed in the morning, especially if a person is prone to depression or hopelessness, is an act of courage. If someone is an alcoholic or a drug addict, neither taking a sip of alcohol nor using heroin, each day is an act of courage. If a person has social anxiety disorder, learning to be around other people is being courageous.

There are courageous men and women, both young and old, throughout society – indeed, throughout the world – who go on living, despite their bodily and emotional kinds of sufferings. For such people, facing each new day is a challenge and completing it is an act of courage. Thus, to choose to live, despite all of life’s hardships and sufferings, is an act of courage. Dying may be easy; but living can be hard, to paraphrase Soren Kierkegaard. I congratulate the brave souls who choose to go on living, despite all the adversity they endure every day. They have, to borrow a phrase from Paul Tillich, “the courage to be.”

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