Talking Openly About Suicide

Suicide is such a TABOO in society today.  When it’s mentioned (which isn’t often, unfortunately) people tend to say either, “That’s so sad,” or “That’s so stupid,” or something along those lines.  Then, before you know it, they go back to their normal lives, never really pausing to give it a second thought.

Unfortunately, for the mass multitudes of people in the world who struggle with depression or some other mental illness, there often is no option to ‘go back to their normal lives and forget about it,’ because, in reality, a lot of these people deal with the idea of suicide on a daily basis.  I’m not saying this is true for every person who’s depressed or every person who has a mental illness, I’m just saying that there are people out there that are unable to just let it slide and close their eyes to it.

Having suicidal thoughts, especially for the first time, is one of the most terrifying things you could imagine.  I first experienced suicidal thoughts at the end of 2011.  That time it was a reaction to an anti-depressant that I had just started taking.  My friend and I were walking back to our dorm from the food store on campus when all of a sudden these fast-paced, chaotic, swirling, shouting thoughts popped into my head.  I frantically started thinking about walking out in front of the cars on the street, of taking all of my anxiety medication at once.  I was terrified, ashamed, and afraid to be alone.  I was so scared of what people’s reactions might be that I told no one how I was feeling or what I was thinking.  I just stayed in my friend’s room, sobbing, for hours.  Every time I thought I was calming down, another thought of suicide would pop into my head.  I felt like I had no control over these thoughts whatsoever.  Then I would start sobbing all over again.  She knew enough to not ask me, because it was clear I didn’t want to talk about it.  Sometimes now, though, I wonder if maybe she should have asked what was wrong, pushed me a little bit more to get me to open up.  Because talking is SO important.  We really need to open up the dialogue about suicide, because if we don’t more people could die.  It’s that simple.  We just need to be willing to listen with compassion and not allow the stigma against suicide and mental health to prevail.

When I was experiencing suicidal thoughts that first time I felt so alone, scared, isolated from everyone just because of my thoughts.  Did I choose to feel this way? No.  Did I want to feel this way? No.  So why do so many people think that people who are suicidal are weak?  Or do they only think that people who act on suicidal thoughts are weak?  You know what, it doesn’t matter which one they think.  That frame of thinking is wrong in my opinion.  And it’s not always because people are being judgmental either.  Sometimes it’s just that people are ignorant of what it’s like to be suicidal.  When I say ignorant, I do NOT mean it in a bad way at all.  In this case, I equivocate ignorant with uneducated or inexperienced.  And why wouldn’t people be ignorant about it?  Not everyone experiences feeling suicidal and those that don’t often don’t have a lot of education about it because suicide has such a negative stigma associated with it.

I’ve been suicidal since that first time 3 1/2 years ago.  One instance when I felt really suicidal was December 2013.  I was struggling with cutting and I was really depressed.  My days just got worse and worse.  I was at my sister’s house.  She was out, my nephew was still there.  My thoughts became frantic.  I became so involved in what I was feeling that I didn’t think about the fact that my nephew and I were alone in the house.  I didn’t think about what effect I would have on him if I tried to kill myself.  I went in the bathroom with the intention of cutting my wrist, cutting my artery actually.  But yet, at the same time I didn’t know if I truly wanted to die or if I just wanted help.  I didn’t cut deep on my wrist so everything was okay; my nephew never found out what almost happened.  I emailed my therapist – I was frantic.  I called one of my friends and talked to her.  I don’t remember what I said.  I do remember that in talking to her about it later she recalled that I was talking so fast and so disjointedly that she could barely understand what I was saying.  I was frantic, didn’t really know what was going on or what I was feeling, and was so emotional that I could barely remember what I was thinking afterwards.  The last time I felt truly suicidal was at the end of June 2014, so about 7 1/2 months ago.  I’d been depressed for quite a while and the thoughts just kept recurring in my mind.  I was never not thinking about it.  Did I want to be thinking about it all the time?  I don’t know.  I don’t think so.  An argument could be made that I wanted to keep feeling that way because I didn’t really want to feel better, but if that’s the case, there were definitely some underlying problems causing that pattern of  thinking.  At any rate, I had all my pills out in front of me, ready to take.  At the very last second, after struggling internally with myself for hours, I finally called the on-call line at my therapist’s office.  With encouragement I was able to box up those pills and give them to a friend until I was hospitalized the next day.  I think the only reason I was able to reach out for help was because I knew I wasn’t going to be judged for it.  The therapists on that call line are trained, compassionate, understanding, and non-judgmental.  That’s why it’s important to end this stigma about mental health and talk openly about suicide.

Now was I a weak person for struggling through those urges and thoughts? No, absolutely not.  Are people selfish if they commit suicide?  No, absolutely not.  Having been suicidal I can tell you that not everyone who is suicidal just sits around thinking, “Oh, I’m gonna get this person back!”  Those people are not weak.  They have just been struggling so long and so hard that they felt they couldn’t go on.  Trust me, those thoughts, the ones telling you that you can’t go on, you’ll never get better, are so powerful and very convincing.  Do you know how hard it is to fight back against your own mind and emotions?  It is exhausting and at times feels damn near impossible.

I’m not saying that suicide is a good option.  I wish that no one ever had to go through that.  It’s tragic.  What I am saying is that those who find themselves at that point are not stupid, weak, or selfish.  They are just incredibly lonely, sad, hopeless individuals fighting a battle that most of the world can’t understand.

My name is Melissa.

I’ve had thoughts about suicide.

I’ve been suicidal.

I choose to speak out and freely about suicide because I believe it will help save lives.

And that, to me, is worth everything.

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