It took me quite some time to create the title to this post, and even though it may seem like a very simple, to the point, headline, it is much more complicated than that. I settled with ‘My Thoughts on Suicide’ because not only do I want to share them, but I think it’s important, to be honest about the fact that yes…I also have them.
If you have never struggled with suicidal thoughts or ideations, it can be hard to grasp why anyone would ever have them in the first place. It is crucial not to shame those that have them for this will just further stigmatize a topic that we desperately need to get better at discussing. There have been multiple occasions where I felt the need to keep these dark thoughts to myself and ride out the storm. In the past, I have felt the need to withhold this information from my therapist for fear of being hospitalized and misunderstood. I will often make light of the situation, or feel the need to excessively defend myself. For those of us that battle with suicidal thoughts, all we really want is to feel safe in having these conversations without fear of them being used against us.
Suicide, and/or Mental illness in general, is typically a conversation that most people try to avoid having. It makes others uncomfortable because they are unsure of how to respond or what they should be saying. For the most part, when someone decides to share with you their darkest thoughts/feelings, they are likely not seeking that much of a response as much as they are just wanting to talk to someone who is willing to listen. This is why getting, and asking for help is so important for those of us that struggle with suicidal thoughts, ideations, or obsessive thinking. Do NOT be afraid to start the conversation yourself. If you know someone in your life that battles with mental illness, take notice of the things they aren’t saying out loud. The signs are there. We just need to pay attention.
We need to change the language/verbiage we use when discussing suicide. Let’s stop saying things such as, ‘failed’ or ‘successful’ when regarding suicide attempts. The media has a way of ‘glamorizing’ it or painting a prettier picture of an ugly thing. Often times, too much information is shared in the news which can lead to increasing numbers of suicide. For example, there is no reason for the world to know how someone else took their life, or what was included in their ‘note’. This can instill more ideas in the minds of those who have a hard enough time as it is battling the ones that already exist. Media coverage can influence behavior negatively by contributing to contagion, or positively by encouraging hope and help. Let’s all work towards the latter.
Want to know some of the hard facts? Here are some of the numbers regarding suicide. Keep in mind, Stigma surrounding suicide leads to underreporting, and data collection methods critical to suicide prevention need to be improved. (ASFP):
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States
- Each year, 44,965 Americans die by Suicide
- For every suicide, 25 people attempt
- On average, there are 123 suicides per day
- In 2015, 505,507 people visited a hospital for injuries due to self-harm
- In 2016, Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.
It was almost three years ago that I attempted to take my own life. As I laid in the hospital bed, I was struck with the intense realization that it wasn’t that I wanted to die; I just wanted to remove all the pain I had been collecting over the years. My substance and alcohol abuse, isolation, loss of interest in my passions, and masked mental illness were ultimately what lead to the attempt. It has been through regaining my strength, removing the toxic parts of my life, and rebuilding the foundation that I stand on that has kept me alive today. Despite the suicidal thoughts that still enter my mind, I have worked hard to acquire healthy coping mechanisms, and I pay close attention to my own behaviors. It is not always easy, but living is always worth it.
Whoever you are, YOU MATTER. Your life matters, your story matters, and you are NEVER alone, despite what your brain may tell you.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for being here. I appreciate you.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255). It’s always open, and you can speak to a trained counselor.
If someone is threatening to kill themselves, don’t leave them alone. Call 911 or, if you can do it safely, take them to the nearest emergency room. Try to keep the person calm, and get help from others.