When I was suicidal, mostly I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t know how to broach the subject, I didn’t want to be seen as an attention seeker and I didn’t want to upset anyone.
While I see now that my attempts would actually be classed as parasuicide (attempts when the sufferer is not really aiming to die), at the time I didn’t realise that and saw and felt them as completely real, distinct from the self-harm I subjected myself to. I haven’t made any attempts to die or even seriously self-harm for a while (it’s one area I have worked on and improved on) but thoughts of non-existence and of death are frequent. There can be a slow-build or they can come on violently and suddenly, sometimes in response to an event or a thought but sometimes apropos of nothing concrete at all. Whenever a tragedy happens, I feel angry and hopeless that people who were loved and who loved had to die when they were so full of life and yet I get to stay alive when I have none.
Suicide is a difficult topic to talk about. I only mentioned it to someone once in a moment of weakened despair and, through their choice, I am no longer in touch with them. I let them go with the pain of regret and shame.
But just as suicide is difficult to talk about, it is difficult to listen to as well. I now know this from first-hand experience as I deal with a friend who is frequently suicidal and hospitalised. I should know what to do and what to say having been in the same situation more than once but the truth is there is nothing to say. All I know is that talking helps, that talking isn’t going to make it more likely to happen and may actually lessen the possibility. It would have for me when my attempts were fuelled by an underlying belief (knowledge as it seems in those moments) that nobody cared and that I had no one.
Talking doesn’t solve everything, no matter what the therapists may say, but it goes a small way to making things bearable. I certainly don’t have all the answers – or even most of the answers – but I would say that if anyone happens to read this who is suicidal, try to talk to someone (do as I say, not as I do) – or at the very least, write it down. It makes a small difference and that difference may be the line between continuing the battle and being unable to. There are many times that I wish the battle was over but I look forward to the days when I am glad that I get to keep fighting and on the better days, I hope for a time when the battle is won and done.
And if you happen to be reading this and know someone who is suicidal, don’t be afraid to talk to them. You won’t cause them to go through with their thoughts, only they can do that and the reasons are much more complex than a conversation with someone who shows interest. It may be too late but there’s a good chance that you will make a difference. It’s scary and it’s unfair to ask you to deal with something so awful but please know that the person who is telling you these painful things knows that too. Be honest if it’s too much but listen if you can. I wish the person I told had said it was too much. I would have stopped.
And, apart from listening, take it seriously. If someone talks about suicide, they are not attention seeking, they are in pain and asking for help. No one talks about suicide if it isn’t foremost in their thoughts, if it doesn’t invade every part of every day. Suicidal people still fear death, it’s just that death seems like a better option to life. A rock or a hard place and you’ve spent too much time at the hard place.
Finally, despite everything I just said about opening up and how good it is to talk, I worry about talking of suicide and triggering people so I have added a few websites that I found and find helpful. Please get help if you are on the edge and about to fall.
http://www.samaritans.org/ – of course the Samaritans. I have a bit of a phone phobia so I never called (also I have flatmates and I didn’t want to be overheard). For a while I emailed them. It didn’t really help me personally because the reply isn’t instant and that’s what I needed but they do fantastic work. The number is 116 123 (UK and Ireland).
www.elefriends.com – kind of like Facebook for nutjobs. Seriously, there will always be someone on here who will help you if you ask for it. Complete strangers talked me down more than once. Very helpful as long as you ignore the fact that it pretends to be run by an elephant (which shows how useful it is because I can’t bear to be patronised and having an “elephant” talk to me and suggest I do crafts is about as patronising as you can get) who is a bit over-keen to censor.
www.befrienders.org – gives details of where to call in countries throughout the world.
http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/ – one of the first sites I found. Not patronising. I read it over and over. It contains lots of useful links, including how to help someone who is suicidal.
http://lostallhope.com/help-me – another of the first sites I found. It could be triggering but when I was thinking of suicide, I actually found the facts and the matter-of-facts useful and, in a strange way, comforting.