I’m not a so-called mental health professional. I don’t have any professional degrees hanging on my wall or in an office. I don’t have a cool title before or after my name. However, I am a professional of my own experiences. I am a suicide survivor.
Today, September 10th is an extremely noteworthy day. World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is an awareness day observed on 10 September every year, in order to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides, with various activities around the world.
There are astounding facts, figures, and statistics regarding the total number of suicides per day. The number of suicide attempts and deaths continues to grow each year at an alarming pace.
During a very dark time in my life, I really struggled with depression and other mental health issues. There were many times when suicide seemed to be the most viable option. Many were the days that I didn’t see even a shimmer of light or hope.
I can state, with gratitude that I never consciously attempted suicide. It wasn’t something I purposely chose to do. In an effort to numb myself from my own mind and the world around me, I did have a few narrow escapes.
What I want to share from my personal experiences is to educate you and others about what suicide ISN’T:
Suicide isn’t “Crying Wolf.” I have heard this so many times! There are many individuals, medical professionals included, who will disregard someone’s statements about or attempts at suicide as a means of attention. Well, if you use this in a negative connotation, then that may fit. However, if someone is telling you they are feeling suicidal, you need to listen!
It doesn’t matter if they have told you this 100+ times. This statement should be taken seriously every single time they state it. This distressed individual is attempting to communicate with you that there is something not right in their world.
You may not understand it, but they also may not be able to explain it. This is why suicidal thoughts and attempts should be listened to seriously. That one single time you decide the individual is “crying wolf,” may be the one time they are successful at ending their life.
Suicide isn’t “the easy way out.” I can understand how those who have never felt suicidal may feel this way, but it is the furthest from the truth. I have had so many conversations with myself, debates and tug-of-wars when contemplating the thought of suicide.
It was an agonizing experience. I think this is true for most people who have or do feel suicidal. When you are fully immersed in the darkness of depression, you truly feel as though you and everyone else would be better off if you aren’t around.
I don’t ever remember feeling as though that was the easiest option. In fact, by the time I experienced suicidal ideation, I had already tried and been through a million other options first. Personally, I think if someone is harboring this thought about someone who is feeling suicidal, then the entire experience becomes more about them than the person living it.
Suicide isn’t selfish. Yes, I know. I have heard every single statement about what a selfish act suicide can be. My reply to that, pooey! If you are trying to help someone who is feeling suicidal, do you really think that the person is thinking clearly about everything in their life at that moment? No!
When you are so depressed and feeling drowned by everything in your life, it’s most definitely not the time or place to make a decision about life or death. Yet, that is what commonly happens.
What doesn’t happen is an inner conversation regarding the effects to your family, friends and others if you should commit suicide. I don’t believe this is being selfish. This is the absolute definition of depression. It’s very difficult to entertain any type of clarity in thought or words when you are feeling this badly.
And you are definitely doing a huge disservice to someone who is feeling suicidal if you are telling them they are being selfish. Most likely, that statement is going to further add to the dark load they are already carrying. Certainly, it is not going to help them in their current mindset.
Those are the three most common replies or statements I have personally heard from others. And, unfortunately, they are also the same ones I have heard others utter to folks I know who are fighting and struggling inside.
Even though I feel as though I have a fairly good understanding of what others are thinking when they are feeling suicidal, I still don’t know for sure. From my own personal experience with depression, you can read “Depression: How it Feels.” With all of that in mind, I encourage you to listen more and to judge less. That is what all of us need the most.
Please leave a comment and let me know what you would add to my list of three. I truly would like to know. Please be safe everyone and reach out to those who may need your help.