Suicide. Such a taboo subject, seen as a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Since high school, I have almost lost various loved ones to suicide. I would wake up wondering if they would be in school that day or if they would be in the hospital again. I would go crazy calling all of the local hospitals if I did not get a text back from them for a few days. Once I received a phone call right after a friend of mine made his sixth or seventh attempt. One time, I even found someone I cared about in the midst of a suicide attempt.
I wish that I could understand what my loved ones were going through, but I never truly will. Unless you have been to such a point in your life that you see suicide as the only way out, you have no idea what it is like. You have no idea how the person is suffering.
I decided to interview individuals who are suicide survivors. I asked them what life was like leading up to the event and what life is like now.
For confidentiality purposes, all individuals are going to be kept anonymous.
* * *
This happened while I was still in high school. The stress of classes snuck up on me without me even realizing it. To be honest, I think I hid it really well because no one suspected anything different about me. I don’t even have the words to describe what I felt during that time in my life. I felt so low that I didn’t deserve to live. My family at that time mistook my depression for rebellion despite the fact that I tried to reach out to them for help. I vividly remember the night I tried to end it all. I had a mental breakdown. I was sobbing uncontrollably on the floor of my room after I finished regurgitating my dinner due to the stress.
My mom saw me, but she didn’t see ME. She saw that I didn’t finish the homework, and she saw that I wasn’t finishing it. She lashed out, and I lashed back. It did not end well at all. She left calling me useless. It was bad.
I just wanted to go. If my own mother thought I was worth nothing, then that just confirmed what my demons had been saying. I was going to do it. I was just going to head to the medicine cabinet to OD on the drugs. It was simple. But I stopped myself before I made that decision. Thank God I was able to do that by myself. I wouldn’t be alive today if I didn’t.
I’m still struggling to this day. My depression gets worse the more stressed I get. It’s a struggle. It really is. I’ve cried more times than I can count.
College just made it worse. I’m really trying to hold it together. I sought help, but the damage has already been done. For the first time in five years, I reached out for help again on my campus. My demons never will go away, unfortunately. They’re still there. The thing is, I’m more afraid than ever if I rebound. I don’t know if I can talk myself out of it a second time.
* * *
It's hard to describe. I'd struggled with suicidal thoughts and feelings since I was young. Really young. I remember in the fifth grade feeling a horrible sensation of loneliness and not belonging, of being defective, and like I'd never be able to bond with my peers. I remembered wanting to cut myself, but being scared of frightening my parents. I remember feeling actually suicidal in the 7th grade. And angry.
I actually considered hurting my peers. I knew that was wrong though, and I realized that my feelings weren't anyone's fault, especially not some kids my age. I drifted in and out of depression, but by the time I finished high school I thought I'd beaten it. I was wrong. In college, it came back with a vengeance. My freshman year I sought help. My sophomore year I actually made a suicide attempt.
It's hard to describe that mindset to someone who hasn't lived it. Looking back, I know part of it was that I had changed medications recently and had my dosage upped right before it got really bad. I remember feeling just utterly hopeless. Unable to move for hours at a time. Utterly exhausted no matter how much I ate or didn't eat, slept or didn't sleep. I couldn't muster the much mental effort to focus on anything enough to do anything more than eat one meal every other day and pretend not to be so pathetic and maybe shower.
And I physically hurt. Nothing felt comfortable, every joint ached. I was always queasy. My head felt achy and dizzy. And I was never able to sleep or relax or feel fully awake and alert. I felt caught in the middle between waking and sleeping, living and dying.
I had an overwhelming sense that I was in a dire situation and there was absolutely nothing I could do to change it. I knew in my heart that even if I managed the monumental task of achieving some resemblance of normalcy, I'd still wind up right back in the same spot no matter how hard I tried not to, and no matter how much help I got from my friends and family and doctors. And I owed it to the people who cared not to be as broken as I was.
And seeing as that was an impossibility, the next best thing was to just call it quits before I could hurt them more. Before I cost my parents more wasted money on my school and medical expenses. Before they had to watch me wither into a husk of a person. I thought my girlfriend deserved better then I could ever give her as someone damned to such an existence, so the least awful thing I could do would be to die sooner rather than later and let her finish grieving while she was still young, and could move one and live the happy memories she would want to.
I also thought I could move on from the suicidal thoughts that always came back if I'd just give it an honest effort. I guess I thought I'd either kill myself or I'd kill cancer in my soul.
I spent a lot of time trying to find a way to attempt suicide which didn't run the risk of becoming a vegetable or leave a horrible mess for whoever found me. I also wanted something which offered a 50/50 chance of living or dying. I didn't find many resources which helped one figure these sorts of things out. Eventually I just kinda freaked out and made a half-baked attempt at what was in my room. I wouldn't recommend the experience. I would recommend getting treatment and opening up about your problems to whoever you have that can listen and help. It's scary, and people don't always know how to handle it, but it's liberating to not have to hide your secret shame from the whole world.
As for what's different, I'm on a medication which actually seems to help, even if it does have some unpleasant side effects. I'm not hiding things from my doctors which is nice. But I still have a hard time wanting to do things, and still feel a need to find an acceptable direction and an understanding of where purpose comes from. I still have the aches and pains. My sleep still gets funky.
But I don't want to die. I don't want to put my friends and family through that again. And I'm free from the nagging thoughts that everything could just go away if I ever had the guts to do it. I think the horrible experience of making a suicide attempt and going through the physical agony that brings and being hospitalized and humiliated and worrying your loved ones sick will do that.
I also do have good days and I do find happiness and fulfillment with my friends, family, and girlfriend. I still can't escape the fear that it's all temporary and it'll all come crashing down any minute. And that makes it really, really hard to look past the present and plan for any future.
* * *
It was two weeks before Christmas in 2011. I was in an online vet tech school since my husband was in the military and settling down somewhere long enough to get a Bachelor’s Degree and get my pre-reqs for vet school was tough. I was doing the next best thing. I was turning 21 in a few weeks, the beginning of January. No one close to me had passed away. I never thought about death. I had never dealt with it.
My dad called the week before I took my finals for the Fall 2011 semester. We talked. He shared a song that reminded him of me and I told him I was making the seven-hour trip back home for Christmas in just two short weeks, that my finals were the following week.
I had no idea.
The week of my finals, and the morning of my first final, I was sitting on my couch studying. My husband got the call that he was gone, my dad was gone. He was my world. I failed all of my finals. My world crumbled, and I made my husband go home for Christmas. I stayed seven hours away alone. I didn’t want to see my family. I isolated myself.
I tried to move back home for a year (from 2013-2014), to enjoy time with what family I had left and I couldn’t do it. And I will never live back home again.
Life is very different now. I continue to struggle to bring up my wrecked GPA. My family has to travel to another state to see me. I have a lot of fire behind me now, for getting into vet school, as I promised my dad that I would. I still have this odd complex in my head, like a child who’s been abandoned and I’m 27 years old. It amplifies any and all loss, like my unfortunate divorce and loss of pets, even though both are hard, but again, very amplified. Everything is different.
* * *
Well, I had gotten to a point in my life where I had absolutely no hope. It felt like I was in a never-ending dark tunnel and the light just never came. I didn’t see a point in living and I was so exhausted from trying to find self-worth. I decided I wanted to crash my car. Luckily, some friends and my dad stopped me before I did anything.
I would say now what’s different is that I’ve learned how to function in bad situations and not just completely shut down. I’ve learned how to appreciate everything life has to offer. And I’m so much happier because of it.
* * *
At the time, I thought I was worthless and the world was better off without me, and that no one actually cared about me... I was blaming myself for everything in my life that was happening to me and taking it out on myself, and the time I was a self-harmer, anorexia, and bulimic.
The difference now is that I realize that some things are not my fault, therefore, I don’t need to take it out on myself. I have awesome friends around me that I actually open up to instead of locking them out, and I’ve started finding joy in the little things.
* * *
I used to be the president of an anti-suicide club so I’ve talked to numerous people going through it and I myself have tried to commit it throughout my life since middle school.
I think what’s different now from then is that even when I feel like I’m not in control of things I’m accepting of my life and of my flaws and the fact that life may be crazy sometimes. I feel like I and a lot of people I used to help back then had trouble accepting themselves for who they are and accepting that life is okay even when it feels like it isn’t.
* * *
I tried to commit suicide almost four years ago as a junior in high school after dealing with depression since about 12 as a result of sexual assault and molestation by an older cousin. At that point in time, my stress levels were through the roof, my social life was nonexistent, I had no friends. On top of that, I was dealing with this huge chemical imbalance in my brain that just refused to let me see the good things in my life. Everything just felt so dark and hopeless.
I felt like my life was never going to get any better and that no one wanted me around. I’d convinced myself that if I died, no one would even care. It honestly felt like being stuck in a hole that you couldn’t get yourself out of. The voice in your head starts off as a kind of whisper that you can quiet, you can fight it. you can say "No, __ loves me and I have this good thing going on in my life." But after a while, it’s almost like its just screaming at you, and you can’t fight it and you find yourself believing what it says. I thought I was worthless and that my life was worthless.
So on September 21, 2014, I decided that I was just going to end it because I was better off dead anyway. My dad found me pretty quickly (luckily) and started crying. I feel like that was the wake-up call for me. I’ve hardly ever seen my dad cry and I felt so low for having hurt him like that.
I think that’s probably what keeps me from doing it now. I still deal with my depression, I’ll have some days or weeks at a time where it’s really bad and I start to get those feelings again. Then I remember the look on my dad’s face, I remember my moms when he told her. I remember my entire family breaking down into tears because they were worried they were going to lose me.
Not too much has changed since then, I’m still dealing with my trauma and all of the pain it’s caused me, but I’ve also received support from my family. I’m reminded constantly that I’m loved and I think that’s what made the difference for me.
* * *
Two years ago I was in a mentally and physically abusive relationship. I also suffer from depression and extreme anxiety, calmed with Paxil, Sleeping pills, and anti-anxiety medicine at the time. He was constantly feeding me lies about my family and telling me that they didn't care about me and that he was the only person I had.
I lived with my sister at the time and all my other family was hours away. He managed to pin my sister against me to the point where I was ready to choose him over her.
One weekend he ghosted me and the medication I was on (Paxil) I had an extreme reverse reaction to and ended up cutting myself and taking too many sleeping pills. I didn't have to go to the hospital but my sister had me on suicide watch for a while and took most of my medication.
Well, he came back into my life and I fell back into the same pattern. Constantly being told I was crazy and that I'd never amount to anything. It got to the point where I was in a physical altercation with my family and I started to believe I deserved the abuse.
It didn't end until I found physical proof of all the messed up shit the guy was doing (catfishing by pretending to be women on social media sites, dating multiple women at the same time) that was just the nonphysical stuff.
I ended up breaking things off with him, got my family life back on track and onto new medication which was a huge help. I also met someone who loves me and my family and has been nothing but supportive to me, and that's the best anti-depressant I could ask for.
My depression and anxiety have depleted so much since he came into my life. The biggest thing I want to emphasize is that not all antidepressants work for everyone and it takes a while to find the right one. And a lot of times surrounding yourself with good people provides a lot of relief.
* * *
I was 12 when I started cutting and tried to hang myself. I had just moved from another state and was enduring sexual harassment from one of the teacher’s sons, so naturally, no one believed me. I felt alone like I could tell no one about what I was going through, and in all honesty, I felt an overwhelming numbness as if I was in a hole, and I just wanted to feel something real, but I also wanted it all to be gone at the same time. I tried hanging myself with a belt, but I was too heavy and fell.
Now, I have a lot of friends that I can confide in, I have continued to see a psychiatrist and I am now treated with medication(s) and I have forgiven the boy who harassed me.
* * *
So basically I was a junior in high school, a lot of very complicated stuff was going on. My parents were really struggling with their mental health, and they didn’t understand how that affected us kids. It was exhausting to come home every day and never know what to expect, sometimes I was so scared for their physical safety because they didn’t know how to handle the problems in their minds. I also just felt trapped in my house, I could never be out of it enough.
My dad also has really bad anger issues, and so he never could be a loving and nurturing father. Things piled onto each other and eventually, it all just broke down. I would take a handful of pills and just look at it, thinking about what would happen if I took them all. I would cry every day and just feel anger and confusion and my heart sinking deeper into my chest.
I’m very grateful that I am not there anymore. The grace of God has lifted me out of that state.I started going to talk therapy and tried to understand and forgive my mom and dad for how they acted and what they lack. They will never understand the effect they had on their children, but at least now I understand why they did the things they did.
My mom spent some time locked in a mental health facility, and they found out her amygdala was starving of hormones, so she reacted with all this fear and aggression that she couldn’t really control. It took a while to get her hormonal balance healthy again, but she is no longer constantly consumed with delusions and terror at the world around her. It makes me breathe easier knowing my little brothers are safer now because she knows better than to run away and leave them in danger. I love my mom so much, and I know she never meant to hurt us.
Now, I’m in a healthy relationship and I’m succeeding, but not just at school. That really isn’t the most important thing, I learned. It’s more about feeling happy, helping others and being a light to their heart. That is more valuable than any A+ could ever be. I’m so glad I’ve found my stride.
* * *
"When I was 14-16, I suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts. I cut myself very briefly. You wouldn’t see the scars on my arms today. The depression never really went away. I became very anti-social and angry. I got annoyed with others easily and became a shell of a person.
My dad committed suicide on March 30th of this year. It was my mothers birthday. They were in the midst of a divorce. I’m still trying to get over it.
While I’m not suicidal today, there is never a day that goes by where I don’t think about suicide and whether I should do it or not. I don’t want to die by any means, but it is something I think a lot about. Any time I’m stressed, it’s where my mind goes. I cope by turning off my emotions, though, the only one I cannot turn off is my anger. I’m still anti-social. I prefer to be alone without any physical contact of any kind. It’s a struggle between my girlfriend and I as she needs to be around me a lot more than I want to be around her. Not for lack of love, but mentally, I cannot take it. I’ve become accustomed to being alone. It’s where I find my peace. It’s quiet and I can think freely there."
* * *
"Had just found out my wife was cheating on me and she got custody of our two kids so I took a bunch of pills and fortunately I woke up but now I am moving on and am doing a lot better."
* * *
Suicide is not something we should be scared to talk about. The more we bring awareness to such a topic, the more we will decrease the stigma around it.
With that being said, if you are having suicidal thoughts, you do not need to go through this alone. Text or call the numbers below.
You deserve a long and wonderful life.
I am so happy you are alive today.
Crisis Text Line — Text "Help" to 741741
National Suicide Prevention Line — Call 1-800-273-8255