Suicide is a hard topic to talk about. It isn’t something you start off a conversation with.
Suicide does not discriminate. Not between genders or ethnicities. Not between ages or religion. It doesn’t discriminate between who is most successful or not.
This is a topic we need to be more open to talking about. People know that it’s difficult topic to digest; the word “suicidal” is just a toxin in our mouths that burns our tongue. So these people shy away from telling anyone or reaching out for help. The result could lead to a suicide and a bunch of people saying “we would have never known.”
When someone ends their life, the effect is felt everywhere. By multiple people, family, friends, & communities. Strangers take a moment of silence for our fallen friend.
We need to give the topic a louder voice. So that you can start asking “Are you are REALLY?” or “What can I do to help you right now?” This is hard to do when you don’t understand suicide and the human mind that goes into it. We need to form an army to help people save them from their own minds.
Whether they are your own thoughts, or someone else telling you, thoughts of suicide & behaviors should NEVER be taken lightly. They are not harmless or used for attention and should never be ignored.
I am going to use this post to assist with bringing awareness to suicide, suicide attempts, suicidal ideation and trying to prevent it. I will be providing some facts I found on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) because that is the only place I found more up to date statistics. I’m going to show you the warning signs you could see in someone contemplating suicide as well as tips on how YOU could help someone who may be in a crisis. I highly recommend you check these out even if you aren’t feeling suicidal; it’s very good information. Toward the end of the post, as I usually do, I had the privilege of talking to some amazing and BRAVE people who agreed to share their experiences with suicidal thoughts and more.
For those of you who may not know the difference between suicide and a suicide attempt:
Suicide is when someone intentionally harms themselves and ends their life.
Suicide attempt is when someone harms themselves with the intent to end their life but, because of certain circumstances, they do not.
Suicidal ideation is when someone views their lives as not worth living and has suicidal thoughts very often.
Some Facts About Suicide
I looked into the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) website to get some update to date statistics on suicide in 2020 or 2021. Unfortunately, they only had that Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report from the CDC for 2019, which was retrieved this year on February 9, 2021. It’s the most current and verified data available since publication. Even though this is a few years ago, the data is still important to know. The rate of suicide has only gone up every time they receive statistics. If you would like to look further into their statistics, you can go to their website at http://www.afsp.org/statisics
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the Unites States. 2nd leading cause of death in ages 10-34. 4th leading cause in ages 35-44.
- In 2019, 47,511 people ended their lives.
- There was an estimated 1.38 million people who attempted suicide in 2019.
- White males accounted for over 69% of deaths by suicide in 2019.
- On average, there are around 130 suicides per day.
- Men ended their lives 3.36x as often as women, in 2019. Women were more likely to attempt suicide.
- 1.379 million Americans attempted suicide.
- In 2019, Veterans were 1.5x higher with suicide rates than non Veterans over the age of 18.
- 90% of those who ended their lives had a mental health condition at the time of their death. Among those adults who were diagnosed, 43.8% did not receive any mental health care in the past year.
- 73.1% of the United States did not have enough mental health providers to help people in 2020, according to federal guidelines.
- 12 million Americans have serious thoughts about suicide.
Here is some data from the US in 2019 and where all of our states stand with suicide rates.
These are some warning signs to look out for if you feel like someone feels a little more than just blue. I got these warning signs from the National Institute of Mental Illness.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol & drugs.
- Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves.
- Buying a gun or hoarding pills.
- Making a plan or looking for a way to end their life (this could be searching online).
- Feeling empty, hopeless, or feeling like there is no reason to live.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawing from friends or family. Or just isolating oneself, or feeling isolated.
- Saying goodbye to loved ones, putting affairs in order.
- Talking or thinking about death often.
- Giving away important possessions.
I want to talk about a friend I made when I was inpatient. She came in on (I think) my 3rd or 4th day. Something was different about her than anyone else. She had a cut on her neck, which was bandaged up. I immediately wanted to just hug her.
Mind you, she is the sweetest and most soft spoken person I know. I couldn’t even believe something like that could happen to her. But suicidal thoughts do not discriminate.
One thing I remember is that something horrible happened to her. Her family came to see her during our visitation time. After her visit, she came in SCREAM CRYING. If you don’t know what that is, be glad you don’t. After things had calmed down a little and she came out of her room, she told us that her family said that “God was mad at her”, “She is going to hell” for her suicide attempt, and that she was “selfish”.
FIRST off, how dare you. I wanted them to explain to me why they thought her trying to end her life was selfish. I guarantee those thoughts that made her do it weren’t hers. Her sister told her that she told her NIECE what happened and how she was going to hell. That is one thing I will fight anyone on. Do not bring your religion into someone’s hell. If anything it made things worse for her and how she felt. You aren’t saving her by telling her she is damned to Hell. You aren’t saving her by pinning her family against her. When you are feeling that dark, nothing matters. And religion definitely will never matter. As long as the pain is gone, nothing matters. Those thoughts make it hard to see anything else.
I’m just so angry about it. I have a soft spot for her if you couldn’t tell lol. Even though I haven’t talked to her in over two years. She deserves to be loved, heard, and cared about. Always. Just like every one of us.
The National Institute of Mental Health has a 5 step action plan that I would like to share with you. This is extremely helpful if you are ever in a situation where someone is in emotional pain and contemplating suicide.
5 Action Steps
- ASK: It’s not an easy question to ask but, studies show that asking someone who may be in a dark head space if they are thinking about suicide, does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts.
- KEEP THEM SAFE: It’s very important to check out your surroundings and reduce the person’s access to anything that could harm them. It is important to ask the person if they have an plans to end their life, and take action to remove or disable anything lethal.
- BE THERE: Take a second to listen to the person and understand what they are thinking and feeling. This is highly likely to reduce suicidal thoughts.
- HELP THEM CONNECT: Save the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number (1-800-273-TALK) and the Crisis Text Line (741741).
- STAY CONNECTED: It’s been known to make a difference when you keep in touch after a crisis or being discharged. Studies have shown that the number of suicide deaths declines when someone follows up with the person.
Here are some additional resources about suicide prevention efforts.
- The National Alliance for Suicide Prevention: https://theactionalliance.org/home. They also have some additional things to check out. Very interesting!
- National Institute of Mental Health: http://www.nimh.gov
- The Zero Suicide Mission: a little bit about it from the website – “Zero Suicide is a quality improvement model that transforms system-wide suicide prevention and care to save lives.” and “Zero Suicide seeks to transform the way health systems care for people with suicidal thoughts and urges.” : https://zerosuicide.edc.org/
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has created an implementation guide for suicide prevention in countries called LIVE LIFE. Here is the website: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240026629 and it is also a direct website to the guide. All you have to do is download it!
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: https://afsp.org/suicide-statistics
I was able to speak with more people than normal for this post. I feel so lucky that they were able to talk to me about their experiences. I want to let you know also, that these are going to be difficult to read. Everyone has difference experiences. They are raw and real. Thank you all again for trusting me with your words.
Suicide was something in my families conscious ever since I was kid due to the fact my paternal grandfather committed it when my father was 5 . I would only think about it when I had my breakdowns as I would fine some absurd reason as why not to do it . I would rub a kitchen knife along my wrist or forearm when I was alone but I could never inflict pain or injury. Once my daughter was born the reasons against suicide became more substantial, as i did not want my daughter to suffer the same fate as my father especially at a young age.
I have been suicidal 2 times in my life. One of these times was recent. It’s a
fucking terrible feeling that I wouldn’t wish on any human. I realize that not
everyone can relate or empathize with what I’ve been through, so I’m
writing this for perspective.
I get asked what I wish people knew about suicide and depression quite a
bit. It would be a lot easier if I could snap my fingers and put you in a
depressive state for 5 mins. Because it’s almost comical to ask me to put it
into words since words have nothing to do with it. It’s very difficult to
describe a feeling, especially one that not everyone has. I’ll say this, just
because I’m depressed does not mean I’m suicidal. In fact, most of the time
I don’t want to end my life. Most of the time that thought doesn’t cross my
mind. It’s only after I’ve gone through weeks, sometimes months, of being
severely depressed where I start to have those thoughts. When that
happens and I start to think about suicide, what I’m really thinking about is
a way out. A way to feel some fucking relief and have a break from this
relentless crushing feeling. When I’m so consumed with that blackness, I
don’t think normally. I don’t think as logically as I usually do. I guess what I
want people to see is that it isn’t weakness, it isn’t a choice, and it sure as
hell isn’t for attention.
Constant dread at nothing, hopelessness, overpowered, insignificant.
These are the themes that haunt my world. These are the things that don’t
go away until they are ready. I can’t go work out until it’s gone, I can’t eat or
starve it away, nothing I enjoyed before has the same spark and appeal
that it used to and all I want is just to feel normal and average again. When
nothing is working, where does your brain go? To absolutes. For instance, I
know that if I’m no longer breathing, my brain can’t function and make me
feel this way any more. It isn’t that I want to die, I would just rather that than
be stuck feeling this way for even a second longer.
The last thing I’d like to say/do is challenge some of the things people say
about depression and suicide. “They took the easy way out.” “Suicide is for
cowards.” “That’s the most selfish thing you could do.”
There is nothing easy OR cowardly about ending your own life. In fact, I
would argue that it takes a level of bravery most people don’t possess to go
through with it. And easy? What is easy about choosing to sever the tie
with everything you have every known and loved? No, I think these are just
things we tell ourselves so the loss doesn’t have to hurt so much. It is a selfish thing to do, maybe even the most selfish. But after being through it
multiple times, I can’t say that I feel the same as I did before about it.
I have more ideation than I’d like to. I suffer from very frequent rapid cycling, and that’s usually what pushes me to think that way. My only real trigger is stress. When I am too overwhelmed it’s so easy to push my brain over the edge. My thoughts are, “What if I were just dead instead of this?” or “What if I just drove off the bridge right now?” (when I’m driving). I usually feel a LOT of rage, so yelling or hitting something sometimes helps. It’s crazy how one minute I can be feeling fine, and then something small happens and my brain switches to thinking like that. I’m not currently on any medication, and I know that would help with these thoughts. My therapist has given me a lot of tools to help bring me down, keep me centered a bit. I know what I feel may seem mild compared to others, but it still sucks. My advice is to make sure you have someone to talk to if you’re ever feeling this way – a friend, therapist, parent, whatever. It will make a world of difference to know that someone is going to be there to bring you down from what’s going on.
I’ve been struggling with thoughts of suicide since the age of nine, when I first truly
understood what death was after my father passed away. I yearned for my grief to end
and couldn’t find a way to cope. My home life got worse and exaggerated my want for
this pain to end. By twelve, I was an alcoholic. Also at twelve, I became an orphan.
After being shipped halfway across the country to a woman I never met, who repeatedly
reminded my sister and I we weren’t wanted, I turned to cutting. It was the first
expression of my pain that felt valid, that held a mirror up to the grief killing me inside
and said, “I see you.”
My then-best friend became afraid for me, for at the time I was 14, 100lbs due to
anorexia, and he found a suicide note in my class notebook. He said if I truly cared about
him I would stop cutting. And because I did care, I stopped. I spent the night rolling
around on my floor in withdrawals, refusing to cut because I promised my best friend I’d
I didn’t know it at the time, but that was a huge step in my healing. Not merely because I
stopped cutting, but because I found someone who fought for me, and I listened.
Since then, I’ve had ups and downs, though when I hit my lows, they’ve always teetered
rock bottom. I’ve dabbled in drugs when reality became too hard to cope with, and my
now husband held me through withdraws. Or I returned to drinking too much and tried to
ignore my colleagues—who didn’t know my past—as they made jokes about me being an
alcoholic. I’ve nearly driven my car off a bridge going 90mph, but a simple phone call
My worst episode was when my husband stayed home with me for a week. He lay by me
on the floor while I wept or I just stared vacantly at the wall. I couldn’t talk, and had to
write my words using my finger in his palm. If I was able to move, he would guide me
into our living room so he could watch me from our kitchen while he ate. It was during
that episode I understood not just why, but how people would kill themselves by putting
their head in an oven. In that moment, I would do anything to rid myself of the pain that
felt so cold it burned, so empty yet dense it left me too weak to carry it. In comparison,
burning myself alive would have been morphine.
I’ve never been diagnosed, never had prescriptions written for me, but it is an undeniable
aspect of my life’s battle. Each day is like a raffle I hope to win, the prize being a good
day. I don’t always win this raffle. There are “blah” days, when I feel as though someone
could announce I won the billion-dollar lottery and I’d just twirl my finger and reply, “I
guess that’s cool.” There are bad days when something within me resurfaces and weighs
me down, or something triggers me, tripping my stride and I land in a depressive muck
too clingy to easily wipe off.
From my personal experience, I’ve learned several ways of coping. The first, for me, is
God (I’ll skip over this, as my point isn’t to preach). The second is to wait it out. Just like a storm, the bad episodes, no matter how long or
heavy, will pass. The sunrises after these storms take my breath away each time,
reminding me what waits on the other side.
The third is the importance of having people in one’s life who fight for you, and whom
you love enough to listen to. During moments when you want to harm yourself, it’s
difficult to listen to someone trying to protect you (we may even resent them for it). They
are brave to advocate on our behalf when we ourselves are so against. Their strength is
incredible, and if we let it, in the lowest of lows, their love is a rescue raft we can hang
ourselves over and float on until we reach dry land again, or until our storm has passed.
They are a sanctuary in our times of chaos, when a war is raging within us and we don’t
know if we’ll make it out… even if we don’t feel it then, they are carrying us through the
gunfire. Trust them, even when it hurts.
The fourth—and final—is to value myself. Even saying that takes wobbly knees to stand
up and own, but it’s something that has radicalized my life. Whenever I truly struggle
with depression, I lash out at myself, harm myself, criticize and demean myself. I am “the
worst person who has ever existed” when at my lows. So to challenge that mindset I
claim I am worthy despite my flaws. Though I’ve made mistakes I myself am not a
mistake. Not being “successful” or “talented” does not deem me inadequate at my
passions. I am beautiful regardless of anyone’s standards. I am deserving of someone
who listens, truly, to who I am. I am not a burden. I am precious to those I love… This
has required the most courage from myself. By learning to cherish who I am, respecting
my capabilities and contributions, raising my environmental standards (meaning sniping
out toxic people/things/habits), and focusing on bring out the best in me, those dark days
take a lot more effort to prevail.
So I end with this: I am worthy of good things. I am a privilege to others. I’m vital to and
am loved by my friends and family. And regardless of the season, I’m grateful for today.
I have struggled with suicidal thoughts since I was 13. My father was an abusive alcoholic and my mother was emotionally unavailable. They divorced and things got worse. I ended up at a new school. My only two friends from my old school basically weren’t allowed to hang out with me due to my father’s behavior. I felt incredibly alone. In the summer after my first year of school in the new city I attempted suicide for the first time. I was unsuccessful but the worst part is that no one noticed or said anything even though there were physical signs on my body of my attempt. I have not attempted suicide in many years but I have had a few run ins with self harm. I’m 29 now and I have been diagnosed with cPTSD. Knowing why I’m depressed and that my “over reactions” to seemingly small or normal things are emotional flashbacks has helped me understand my brain and try to work with rather than against it. I’m still early in my healing journey but I can already see some pretty significant improvements. Journaling and talking about my journey as well as my past have been the biggest helps. I don’t know if I will ever be completely free from the occasional day where everything seems grey and pointless. I can’t imagine not at least feeling like I lost something because of the abuse I experienced. No one can take any of the trauma or the years of depression, anxiety, and self harm back. If I’m honest I’m still angry at my abusers, angry that it happened to me, angry that I lost so many years and experiences to the flat nothing that is depression. Stress and depression have done so much to my body that it barely feels like mine. I’m still grieving and healing slowly and I hope one day to figure out forgiveness. I still struggle but I have a support system and that’s made all the difference. When I see things taking a turn I try to “take the path of least resistance” and not isolate. I’ve been known to use paper plates and send message to friends that say “I don’t have a lot of energy to talk but this is me not isolating myself”. Whatever your struggle is find the path of least resistance. When you’re down you need different standards. You’re not tired for no reason you’re tired because you’re depressed. Be kind to yourself and talk to your friends about your mental health. The more they know the more likely they are to be able to offer small pieces of help or maybe even hope. This ain’t Who Wants To Be A Millionaire baby, you can phone a friend whenever. Who knows what the future holds but I intend to find out. We can’t undo the past or just have that mental or personality disorder undiagnosed but I think we can learn to cope safely and hopefully… maybe… eventually have more good days than bad.
YOU need to know that YOU are worthy of love.
YOU are worth getting to know and understanding.
YOU are worth being around and committing to.
YOU are worthy of being appreciated.
YOU ARE WORTHY.
2 thoughts on “In Honor of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month”
That was quite inspiring 🙂 You’re a doing a great work by helping people out there.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you so much! I really appreciate your kind words! 😊