059. Thought Expeditions: Suicide, Finding Strength in Vulnerability & Confronting the Sirens Call w/ Jon & Brandon – Be Relentless
**Today’s Thought Expedition delves into confronting the issue of suicide and the phenomenon we describe as the ‘siren’s call’, the rapid onset of a strong, but fleeting suicidal ideation. While we avoid graphic details, listener discretion is still advised due to the topic matter. **
On today’s episode of Thought Expeditions, we cast light upon an issue that all too often lies in the shadows – suicide and the haunting echo of what we refer to as the ‘siren’s call’. This term, pulled from our own encounters, signifies the eerie allure of suicidal thoughts that we have personally wrestled with.
The mission of this Thought Expedition is not solely to raise awareness, but to equip you with resources that we hope those still grappling in the dark may reach out to, offering a beacon of hope and a guiding hand towards help.
So, prepare yourself for an exploration that pierces the silence, shedding light on a topic that desperately needs it. Know that you are stepping into a space of understanding, support, and resilience. We are all navigating these waters together, and together we stand stronger. Remember, “darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 988 if you’re in crisis, available 24/7. Or check out their Website.
- Veterans Crisis Line: 988 Press 1, or text 838255. Or check out their Website.
- Check out Tim Ferris blog article exploring the same topic, titled: Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide.
- Check out Jordan Peterson’s “Self Authoring Program“.
Thank you for joining us!
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Do you want to learn more? Check out:
- The Universal Learning Approach at: ULA-Universe.com
- The Book: Be Relentless: If the obstacle is the way, then we must be WayMakers.
- The Audiobook: Be Relentless: If the obstacle is the way, then we must be WayMakers.
Jon Mayo: 0:09
Hello everyone, thank you for joining us on the third episode of Thought Expeditions This week. We’ve come at you flying fast with three episodes in the first week, and the reason why is I did not want to delay in. Brandon High-Five to an agreed with me on getting this message out as soon as possible. Today we discuss suicide, suicidal ideations and what I call the sirens call. The reason being is it has affected both Brandon and myself and after a serious reflection, i felt it necessary that we speak about it publicly, with the intent and hope to bring life, love and hope to those who may be experiencing similar things. So if this topic is too difficult for you, i recommend you find a friend and listen to it anyways, but do be aware that we will be discussing suicide in depth on this conversation and doing our best to humbly provide resources as well to combat this devastating action. Let’s jump right in Also. We are sitting down to the third Thought Expedition and I know it’s a little bit different from normal. But what do we have on the docket?
Brandon Seifert: 1:33
So today is the more intentional discussion about suicide suicide ideology or creation of thinking, spurred on by a raging amount of emotional tension lately And I don’t really have a flow of exactly how I want this to go, so we’re just going to kind of spit ball it back and forth and see what’s going on. But for clarity, i’ve tried to commit suicide in the past, specifically when I was nine One half-assed kind of attempt as well when I was 10. And about a year ago I thought about it to the point where I had a gun already loaded from the morning, technically the night before, prepared for me for the end of my shift at work. That was back in last February. Luckily I’m not at that point anymore, but I also think that it’s a very important topic to discuss and to at least quickly hammer out, probably maybe revisit in the future. But I at least wanted to start that conversation. So how do you feel about that topic? Any thoughts, questions? where are you going with me presenting that?
Jon Mayo: 3:15
A little bit taken aback by the entrance to it, not because I wasn’t expecting the topic, because I actually asked us to do this one today, which is why I had stated it’s a little bit different from normal, because typically you surprise me with the topic. Which is one of the fun things about thought expeditions is I have no idea what we’re going to talk about. But today I had said, hey, but can we do this one? I wasn’t expecting your radical vulnerability and sharing your own walk right off the bat, but I certainly appreciate it And what’s interesting is the reason I wanted to talk about it is I felt convicted to bring into life my own struggles with it, because I think that the way that I’ve experienced suicidal ideations and come close to doing it and stuff is on one side of the coin of the spectrum and your experiences with it are on, from what I know of your story on the other side. So what I mean by that is when you are working through depression and trying to claw your way to a healthier mind state and a place of stability. It’s very difficult like that’s where suicidal ideations grow in power over time and those desires spur right, and that is what I understand to be a more accurate representation of your story. Is that fair? Yeah, that’s fair. So that’s like on the one side of the coin And I think that On the other side, i think, is far less talked about of the two and both are equally important. But I’ve not heard anyone talk about The way it’s affected or attacked me. And I think that and the reason I want to bring it up is I think, that that which you hate And hide can quickly, persuaded, influence you more powerfully than that which you confront and push into the light. And this has been true of a few things in my life, the things that I. I hate suicide because it’s like walking into I heard Tim Ferriss put it this way and it was perfect Suicide is like walking into a room of those you love most with a suicide vest on And, you know, detonating it on those you love most and having friends growing up who tried and Those types of things, right. So why are you betraying the circle of trust? so it’s something I hate, but there’s a few things I’ve hated in my life and I’ve become the things I’ve hated in some instances and others have not, and I’ve realized That when there’s something that you hate. You have to put it in the center stage so that it can’t hide in the shadows. Right and For myself, i was probably around the same age The first time I had one and for for myself I call it like the, the sirens call. Thankfully For me I’ve not. My experience has not been Planning and thinking on it. Over time it’s been, this rapid onset, extremely Seductive. What if, in a moment where it could happen? So I was somewhere between nine and 12 and swimming in a pool Like 10 feet deep was a huge Olympic size pool that went to like 12 is huge. I just assuming I was like, oh man, it’d be so easy just to keep swimming and then breathe in And like I wrestled with that for like a day and a half. That was the first time it happened and then over the years it happened different ways, typically by me walking past one of my guns and putting it to my head and just thinking like Click, it’s over and there was something about that. That was so and it like I called the sirens call. In the last time it happened I swore never let it happen again Like I made. I’ve never made a no-th of myself. I’ve never gotten angry after. It’s always been this like curiosity thing. And then I just I’m like what the hell am I doing? and I walk away, right, like waking up. It’s literally like the myth of the sirens call, where you hear this music and it’s so seductive that you stop thinking and just go to it and you crash your ship upon the rocks. Right, yeah, it’s just so they. But then I wake up and what is happening? this is not okay and I put it away right a few months ago. I’m driving to work, everything’s good, everything stable, and The sirens call hits right, and so I have my gun to my head driving down the thing I envision, if I, you know, click, boom, car veers off, crashes, and then what happens over the next 24 hours? yeah, and I was like what in the actual F am I doing here? like what the hell? And it was the first time I ever got angry. It’s the first time I’ve made a note that I’ll never put myself in that position again. I’m doing very well, i feel, i feel stable, at peace, i am in a strong community pursuing things that I love. Life is good from my perspective, like authentically good, and I’ve been thinking since then about like hey, this, this obviously isn’t healthy. But I wonder, am I the only one who has these like rapid onset sirens, call highly seductive moments To just offer myself and let it be over? Or And they’re not frequent, like I’ve said but am I the only one? And clearly we both have different relationships with the idea of like what if we just pull the plug? right. But I asked a buddy. I was like, hey, man, i’m thinking about sharing this on the show And this is the experience and I do not want to speak life to someone hurting themselves, which is my concern in bringing it up. But I do want to engage in the conversation to bring light to a pain or burden that others may be experiencing and no one’s talking about, or few people are talking about it in the context that I just described it And he looked at me as like holy crap. I’ve thought to say I’ve experienced the same thing. Just what if I just ripped the wheel to the left on the highway, right Yeah, and just jump into oncoming traffic and boom, it’s over, and he’s state like he’s in a really strong state also, good life, like every, everything that you could picture making things. Why would this happen? right Would go. And then, as I kept thinking about it, one of my buddies just had a friend who did commit suicide and it shocked him in the entire community. So everyone’s asking what could we have done? How could we have known? And I was just connecting all those dots, i was like that’s what would have like had I succumbed to that sirens call. No one would have seen it coming. Everyone would have been like how did we miss it? And it made me wonder what if there’s a whole subset of the population who is good and isn’t a good place and there aren’t any signs And they just get hit by the sirens call and they don’t pull away? And because of that question I felt compelled to share it on my end. To say one from the conversations I’ve had recently, i don’t think that’s abnormal too. I think the healthy thing is to talk about it so that we have greater awareness, so that we are aware when the sirens call is on setting and we don’t use with it the same way And we can avoid it. And hopefully my hope and intent in it is on this sirens call side of it. It helps to safeguard, protect and ward off that for other individuals who may be experiencing that, but never felt comfortable discussing it or didn’t know how to, or felt that it was unfair to discuss it because of X, y or Z parameters in their life And that they’d be mocked for to kill, lose respect, all those types of things that may come with the stigma of that. So I just kind of want to peel away that curtain from that perspective uniquely, and then, given the opening that you did, allow us the opportunity to explore it as we want, before calling it a wrap on today’s thought expedition.
Brandon Seifert: 12:13
Yeah, so that when I think we both kind of shocked each other where we were initially thinking we’re taking that. So I fully agree, i have and continue to have those experiences and those sirens calls all the time. I think it’s a varying degree, dependent on life experiences How often you have them, but I continue to have them all the time, even though I feel like I’m in a good spot. I distinctly remember doing some of the same things that you described, like the pool thing, and I don’t think we need to get into that for this topic, but I think it’s a very nobody talks about that. like you said, you know what little discussion is said about it and about suicide is definitely ranging on those that have either done it or have planned it, but not about the, the very quick notions that people get. And also nobody talks about how easy it is to hide how they feel about these things. So, like I said about a year ago, a little bit more actually at this point And I’m okay saying that because I take that as a point of pride getting past that very strong demon that I was fighting, nobody knew I went to work like normal, had the same conversations throughout the rest of the week. The only reason that anyone noticed is because at the end of the day, when I got back to my apartment, my buddy was outside drinking. He waved me down and heard that my voice was a little different And then we just talked for four hours Otherwise, like I was 30 minutes away from making a big mistake, but nobody else noticed in my life, you know. So I think what’s unfortunately when people get to that point, either it’s the quick intent or, if it’s planned out, people know how people expect to be responded to. So I know how to respond to certain people at work that they would never have guessed it. You know we put on these fake faces and fake emotions And we don’t let people in because, like you said, there’s stigmas, there’s maybe, maybe it’s too hard to talk about. You know. I know if I tried to talk about it at that time I would have broke down and I didn’t want people to see me that way.
Jon Mayo: 15:09
So What you just hit the nail on the head on, though, is why I hope that this will be a life giving conversation and sharing it, because, once again, the intent in doing this is not to idolize it, it’s to kill it, it’s to pull it out so that it can’t from the shadows So that’s harder to for it to, from the shadows, persuade people. Yeah, so in the show notes for this episode, we’ll have links to some resources for this. I’m not going to pretend to be someone who will give the answers on how to like all the things that should be done to stop it, but I do believe it’s critically important that, if someone is experiencing or wrestling with those types of thoughts consistently, that they see counsel, and there’s tons of free resources out on that front. It’s a pandemic that’s growing in our country, not only in the veteran community that I’m a part of, but also amongst our youth, and, holistically like, the statistics are in a continuous rise. All right, at least that’s what’s being portrayed, and Pressing in is the only solution that I know of that truly works Pressing into relationships, into conversations, into speaking it, even to oneself alone in a room, and putting a voice to it, so it’s not just in the head, in your head, you know, brings it, brings these types of things to life in a fashion that they can’t be elusively quiet anymore, and that would be the encouragement I have. And, aside from that, if that, if this is an experience that’s being faced, i wouldn’t say I don’t want to normalize it to the point of saying it’s normal, but there’s others out there who are, and if we’ve hit it head-on, then I think we have a much higher chance of winning that over time.
Brandon Seifert: 17:20
Yeah, at work, i want to say two days ago I actually had a conversation with someone who who has been facing these kind of thoughts. Of course I’m not gonna go into details about it, but the the thing that also Keynoted was right now in society nobody looks for those kind of things as well. So, like for his example, he used to come into work on time, which was 15 minutes early for him every single day, and now he’s coming in 30 minutes late. That was his sign that things were changing mentally for him, that he was wondering why nobody caught And I don’t and I had this conversation with him. I don’t believe it is necessarily anyone else’s job to to look for signs like that, because it could just be, hey, my car broke down or something else going on. He in that conversation I told him my story, basically how I kind of went through it. I used to. So my first conversation after I attempted was how it was selfish of me doing that, which put a lot of pressure on me because I was still having those thoughts and those, those that pull. But luckily I was able to handle it from a very loving conversation with my mom after. That pulled me away from it, and so then I decided that I had a duty to be there for other people. I still fought that for the next 20, 22 years. I’m 28 now, just for reference on the podcast And I, for the first time in my life, i’m not having those. Every other point in my life I’ve had those thoughts and it would come in waves. It would go you know months. Sometimes it’s the sirens call where it’s you know one and done kind of feelings. But the only thing that I can attribute to me getting out of it was breaking the selfish mentality of thinking Oh, this is, i’m living for the other people around me, which I really do attribute that to being a little selfish, because your life should mean something to you as well. And when I pressed into that I had to go through a lot of dark times, but because I was pressing into it, i found a lot of people that actually really cared and was able to help pull me through that. And I guess, with me saying that I just wanted, i wanted to say guess, you have to push into it. You know a lot of people hold on for a multitude of different reasons, but until you start to learn and figure out, i don’t like how I phrase that.
Jon Mayo: 20:38
I can help a bit Like, yeah, with the pressing in. We met not, we met just before you had planned that event And then we started talking a lot more after the fact and pushing in and essentially living a lot of what is written in the book. Be relentless, right, walking through that. And you, you went deep and far in your readings across the board, right. But one of the reasons I wrote be relentless if the obstacle is the way, then we must be waymakers is precisely because of this as well. And the premise in the book is what you’re talking about. We have to cultivate, like. If we cultivate a version of ourselves that we’re proud to see in the mirror and that we can love, then that allows us to over like, pour out energy and love from a place of an overflowing cup into those closest to us, and then that fills that vessel until it’s overflowing into the community and into the next thing and into the next thing, until you’re just pouring yourself out from this like place of never ending energy, because you’re cultivating care of self, respect of self, love of self, by working on yourself to become the best version of you, that you can become Right. And it’s by starting, like Jordan Peterson said if you want to change the world, start by changing yourself right. And in the Christian Bible it says if you, before you remove a spec from your neighbor’s eye, remove the log in your own right. And there’s different wisdom texts across time And thousands of teaching have demonstrated the power of holding up the mirror And even reflecting on a conversation with noble Gibbons, episode 56. Yeah, yeah, and 56, which is fantastic, especially following this conversation. If you want to dive into more, i would go straight to episode 56. But when we, if you can’t just put it into action, because the place that you’re in then acknowledging and not having hung up on this conversation here, i would say is your first action, yeah, and take some encouragement that, because oftentimes when we face that which are uncomfortable and we’re not willing to face, it’s hard. And if you’ve made it to this point in the conversation and you’re just like feeling lost and at despair, i’d encourage you that you’ve already chosen action by not jumping off yet And hopefully that allows a little bit of fuel to take the next action, which may be listening to episode 56, maybe talking to someone you care about, maybe talking to yourself in the mirror, whatever the case is but a step away from that darkness and into putting yourself in the light. Where you can’t hide right And you begin to do the painful work of cultivating whatever version of yourself that you want in the anomaly type sirens called behavior. That can be dangerous And, as I alluded to earlier, can be thrust into the light as well. If that’s your struggle or if that’s a temptation that scares you, that has happened so that it loses its power.
Brandon Seifert: 24:14
Right And I feel like one of the best things that you actually had discussed with me right after that happened for me and I’m just going to throw this out there as kind of a follow up quick exercise is you challenged me to create a list in 10 minutes I think it was 10 minutes of the if I were on my deathbed, of old age or whatever, and I would imagine the perfect version of myself and that could be status, money, family, any aspect of my life that I could think of, And then if I were to challenge that, if I was willing in wanting to to end it, then clearly that’s that’s ground zero. Like that is potentially like my hell, If I was willing and thinking about that to such an extent. So that gave me a base of. This is this is step zero. This is where things could go very wrong. Here’s the, here’s your perfect self that you’re imagining. And now you know any step towards that perfect self, even if it’s just the smallest step that you’ve done, that’s going to go ahead and mean that you’re on the journey, And by on the journey I mean you’re working towards a different self. You’re no longer accepting that hell anymore, Because I don’t think a lot of people when they start going through these sirens, calls and and thoughts, they don’t define anything I didn’t define. I don’t want to put you know, put that on everyone else, But I never defined what happiness and sadness was to me. I traveled through sadness in such a long time that that became my norm. You know, it was very natural for me to just go through the day and think about it 20, 30 times. So It took a lot of and I did this a few times, this 10 minute test, And I think that was a very powerful thing for me because I never defined it And it takes defining it to be able to understand. Am I actually in a healthy spot just because I’m able to hold it off right now, Because I thought that was a good day when I only thought about it? you know five, 10 times a day.
Jon Mayo: 26:56
Yeah. No thank you for sharing that, because what you’re talking about is the idea of, okay, if I had to write like, if I’m willing to kill myself, then I must be in hell, right, what would make it worse or get me to that point? And if you’re already there, then you’re already closer to rock bottom, or you feel like you are at rock bottom, right. So if you acknowledge that and write that down, and then you write down well, who do I want to be? That creates your heaven, right. And now, in the juxtaposition of those two places, you can begin to determine okay, what is one action I could take to move away from hell and towards heaven, and can I do that today? And then what’s one other small action I can take to do that tomorrow? And then I don’t need to worry about tomorrow until tomorrow comes, right. And that idea is based off of something called the self-authoring program that Jordan Peterson and his team has created, and I’ve heard great things about it. I’ve not actually walked through the self-authoring program that they created, but from listening to his lectures I learned about that concept and then created my own method of engaging with that idea, which I present in Be Relentless, the Book. And what’s really interesting is like, in writing it down, you’re drawing intentionality and thought to where you are in your life, getting the litmus test of how bad it is compared to how good you could want it to be, and hopefully, through those lists, identifying well, if I stopped doing this one thing, or if I started doing this one thing, however small it may be, that would be a step away from this hell and towards that heaven. Right, and how I’ve termed it is the intentional cycle versus the default cycle In the sirens call. If I’m not aware and intentional, then and I’m just drifting through there’s a higher chance it could nab me, right? If you’re unintentionally drawing awareness to other elements of your life and you’re struggling with 30 suicidal ideations a day, then it’s going to keep persuasively pulling you in. But when we do get the gift of that moment of awareness of like what is happening here whether that’s from a neighbor on the porch she’s like Hey, buddy, come here, or whether that’s through like all of a sudden, you’re just like Whoa, what the hell am I doing? Right? That is the opportunity from which we can respond. So I don’t think we should feel shame or guilt or embarrassment. I don’t think we should allow those feelings to cripple us, though they’re fair to feel, but they should be a grateful friend of like Whoa, why do I feel this way if I think my life’s worthless Right? Or Whoa, what is happening? I need to pay some attention to this Because this is not healthy, you know, and press in from that moment. You know the response ought to be. I would be as bold to say that when we get that moment of awareness that we’re like okay, somehow I’m in a cycle that’s allowed me to do this. That is incredibly unhelpful, unhealthy And I need to break it And I need to be intentional in doing so. And, frankly, the reason I wanted to do this publicly on the show is, for me, this is me fulfilling my oath to myself from months ago and this last happened that I’ll never do it again. By me speaking to this, i’ve learned through other things in my life And doing it in this fashion, it locks it in my brain in a way that, as with some other things, it I don’t. It changes the game, it rewrites, reroutes my mind. So I know that my intentionality around this will signal to me before I’m physically playing with things, should the sirens call come again, because I’m sure at some point the idea will still pass, but it’s going to stay at the idea phase And I’m going to speak to it immediately and then move on, because that, for me, those three minute episodes are I’m not playing with. I have four sons who I’m building everything for in my bride, who I’m protecting a community that I love and this entire mentality and ethos that gives me life, and I’m not going to risk putting it at danger Again. That’s my, that’s my stance. But these resources can help And the earlier we have the courage to lean into it on whatever vantage point, hopefully the more lives can be saved and the more people can continue to walk this earth and begin to love and create value and do things that are extraordinary for them and their circles and their communities, for their moments, and in my mind, that’s what it’s all about.
Brandon Seifert: 31:39
Yeah, I fully agree. And one thing that I also wanted to just quickly touch on, because we’re about 30 minutes in, is the consciousness, the conscious effort. You know we’ve talked about consciousness a few times here in the past. Couple of thought experiments or expeditions, sorry, and I think a lot of what I give credit to that got me out of it was just being conscious that things were happening. The the heaven hell cycle started that. You know a couple conversations as well. But you have to be able to. With intentional focus you can catch it and then you can decide, hey, i’m not going to have that thought again And you’re at least be able to catch it much faster. So, for example, walking, walking in roads, crossing the street That was a big one. When I was little I used to close my eyes, walk through the street and just kind of see what happens, you know, without looking left or right, and just walk slow and see maybe I’ll get hit, maybe I won’t, anytime I cross the street. Now that memory pops up of me doing that. And I’m saying consciousness because now that I’m aware that I’m going through these things and these moments that I used to just jump into and kind of you know follow, i catch myself when I’m crossing the street and I will say no, i’m not going to think about that anymore. And the more you are conscious of your thoughts, of the previous experiences that triggered the sirens call or whatever it is, you can start to decide and it like you give yourself a moment of thought to be able to say I can feel it coming And I’m not going to do that. And it was definitely hard after you know this past year’s planned attempt. But ever since that exercise I was able to start consciously noting when these things were happening And then I could start shutting them down much faster. So I wasn’t in the mindset of I’m going to indulge this fantasy for three minutes. You know it’s. It always happens. I will always accept that. But I’m getting better about it. I’m catching these thoughts faster so they don’t grow into much larger things. And so, yes, i still experience depression. That’s always going to come in waves. But now, if I can say, maybe I’m eliminating that, that ideal, because I catch up much faster, from three minutes down to a minute of thinking about something. Man, i’m on my way. What you know, that’s after a year of trying to be intentional about it. The next five years, maybe it’s a 22nd thing, you know. And now I know I have the strength to shut those things down And I’ve gone through a couple of rough moments in my life since then And it becomes a testament to know that I’m able to shut those things down as those things happen. Absolutely, it gives you power. When you realize I’m taking away the power of those sirens calls, yeah.
Jon Mayo: 35:38
I mean well. Thank you for joining me in today’s thought expedition, especially given the personal nature of it. I appreciate and commend your courage and vulnerability and expressing your experiences as as forthrightly as you did, and once again just want to state the intent of today’s show is to bring a message of hope, light and resources to those who are grappling with this in the dark or feeling alone or have been confused and concerned by the type of ideations that seem to strike out of nowhere and say that hey, we see you, you’re not alone. Press in. Thank you for listening to another episode of Thought Expeditions on the Be Relentless podcast. If you enjoyed today’s show and found value in it, please pay it forward. You can do that by sharing it with someone who you think may find value in it as well, or leaving us a five star review wherever you’re listening to this. If you want to learn more about the work on the Be Relentless podcast, the book or Sisu stamina and all of the other cool things that we are doing in the ULA universe, go ahead and head on over to ULA universecom and subscribe. Otherwise, thank you from the Be Relentless team and have a great day.