I need you to read this. If you’ve ever considered suicide yourself, I need you to read this. If you know someone who has had thoughts or committed suicide themselves, I need you to read this. If you’ve been lucky enough to NEVER have any connection with suicide, I need you to read this.
Since this is a tough topic for me, I want to begin by sharing a few stories, all true. Out of respect for the people, I’ll leave out names and roles.
- In 2006, on the night before I was to leave for California from Florida to live with my new husband, I was awoken by a rustle of papers on the foot of my bed. I had rolled over and disrupted them and the motion woke me up. It was a suicide note from one of my family members I was very close to, who happened to be staying in the same house that night. The note informed ME that the person couldn’t do it anymore. The letter asked me to tell the person’s son that they loved him, and wished they could do more. I jumped from the bed and found the writer on the couch. I shook that person as fear coursed through my body that they may have killed themselves in their sleep. I didn’t know. When fear is that strong it’s like all reason and logic blows out of the soul. This person was alive and is still alive today. This person has had a tough life and when they took one step forward, life knocked them back 500 steps, it seemed.
- Earlier this year, another family member spoke to me though not in a letter but on the phone. This person is also someone I’m very close to. We live 12 hours away from each other, so my getting to them before they pulled the trigger would have been impossible. My biggest fear since moving away from home is that this person would die and I wouldn’t get to say goodbye. So, when this person spoke to me in the most defeated voice I know, telling me their spouse was making life difficult again, and that their gun was sitting beside them on the table; I could feel the anxiety creeping up. This person didn’t pull the trigger and is still alive today.
Both of the above instances have stuck with me and I’ll be honest, there’s not a doubt in my mind that either of these people would/could do this if they hit that breaking point. It’s why I try my very hardest to make sure they know they are loved. To make sure that they know they can talk to me whenever, and I try to make myself available to them at all times.
I’ve also had other people in my life throw phrases around that point to their thought process involving suicide. How does one handle this when they too suffer from mental illness? I never want to turn people away from talking to me when they feel this way because I want to be there, no matter how bad I may be hurting myself. That’s who I am. So telling me, “You don’t need that in your life.” Or, “I won’t come to you when I’m feeling like that.” is pointless.
Here’s what I’d like you to know if you decide you feel confident enough to reach out:
- NEVER say these things unless you actually mean it. Sucidial phrases are NOT a joking matter nor should they be tossed around lightly. I take each comment seriously.
- PLEASE be accepting of the words I tell you. Shutting out anything and everything I say when I’m trying to help you is upsetting. I’m here and I’m willing to listen. You just have to be too.
- TALK I don’t care if it’s 2 am on a school night. If you catch me online, reach out. If I’m a stranger? That’s okay, I have ears to listen and a heart that cares.
- I KNOW I know what it’s like to feel like ending it, I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to feel as if you’re standing in a crowded room, screaming, and no one is listening. To feel like nothing is going right, that life won’t get better. I still struggle, though I’m getting better.
There’s this HORRID stigma around the term Suicide. Here are a few branches of the stigma:
- Therapy: Many people believe that therapy is the answer to everything and will solve all your problems. I’ve been to a handful and I refuse to return. Instead, I turn to music, reading, or my writing.
- You’re Crazy: This is the biggest one. So many people, who are likely suffering themselves but refuse to admit it, will tell you or call you crazy. They’ll make you feel like you don’t belong. Don’t listen to them. YOU have a purpose here. It took me 34 years to find mine.
- A Threat: Some people automatically assume that if you’ve considered suicide and have issues with depression that it somehow makes you a threat to yourself or society. While some people reach that level, it’s not as many as those negative Nancy’s and Nathan’s would like you to believe. Don’t listen to them.
- Selfish: People think that committing suicide or having the thoughts is the coward’s way out. I used to think this before depression tried to squeeze the life out of me on its own. Suicide is NOT selfish, for many it’s the least selfish because they feel that they must end it because they are hurting others by being around. THIS is why it’s important for us to tell people how they make us feel, and how showing a little compassion can go a long way.
If you’re lucky and you’ve never had suicidal thoughts, reach out and help someone who has. If you’ve suffered and know what someone is going through, reach out and help.
You do NOT have to be a medical professional to save a life. Remember that. —KT Daxon