The Truth’s I Learned About Suicide for World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is “World Suicide Prevention Day”. It’s a little ironic to me that it is one day before the tragic suicides of 9/11 when a group of men decided to commit suicide and take the lives of many innocent people as well.  In this case of suicide, cultural and religious beliefs were at the core of the decision for these men to end their own lives.

I have personally struggled to understand suicide until I found myself forced to face the overwhelming feelings of wanting to end the pain (during some tough depressive episodes). I was surprised to learn that suicide isn’t isolated to just those who suffer from mental health disorders, which I had always believed was the only cause, however, suicide affects many people for many different reasons. Some of those reasons include guilt, drugs, loss and despair. Many don’t have support during these tough times, and I can’t help but feel sadness that the world has yet to develop an understanding of why someone would want to end their own life. While I feel blessed and lucky to have had a strong support system in my toughest and darkest moments, I hope to always raise awareness for those who aren’t as lucky.

What World Suicide Prevention Day Means to me

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Suicide has been a huge part of my life for the better part of 20 years.  I have both experienced the loss of people I loved and/or cared for to suicide, or have tried and failed to end my own life.  Learning my breaking point was my best defense against suicidal thoughts, but like any defense, it isn’t bullet proof.

Today is an important day for me because I have struggled with suicidal thoughts and plans of how I would end it for many years following my traumatizing adolescent years. Trying to remind myself before and during these moments that I am not a burden to those I love, was and still is the hardest thing for me to do. Many times, I fought for my survival before I would reach a point of suicidal thoughts because of losing TJ.

When I was 15, TJ, the first man I ever fell in love with, took his own life by hanging himself from a swing set at a public park.  The aftermath of his loss was something my brain tried to protect me from for many years.  Eventually, the protection and survival mode my brain entered into in order to protect me, was no longer effective against the growing wound.  This was the beginning of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the trauma and guilt of surviving TJ’s Suicide.

I spent nearly 17 years blaming myself, feeling enormous grief, and struggling with the agony of knowing he was gone and I would not see him walking the Earth ever again. I imagine most 15 year old girls don’t picture losing their first love to suicide, and more over, most 15 year old girls are trying to navigate hormones. I never thought I would get through the pain of his loss, but truthfully I didn’t start to feel that pain until I was 17 and I got into a car accident that became the new topic my brain tried to protect me from.

Until very recently, when I spoke to TJ’s brother about what really led to his decision to commit suicide, I blamed myself for being the last one to speak to him before he made the choice that changed my life forever. All I can say is, I felt regret, relief, and a sense of bitterness toward myself  for holding onto these feelings for as long as I did.

If you lost someone to suicide, no matter how old you are, don’t hide from the pain.  Reach out for support, reach out for clarification, investigate what happened, and don’t be afraid to join support groups and tell people that you are hurting. I didn’t do this and instead I allowed myself the right to not feel anything for a long time.  I suspect that a lot of my own suicidal thoughts stem from my lack of coping when I needed to cope most.

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Learning to Understand Suicide

I didn’t know then (at 15) what I know now about suicide. What I learned through my own suicidal thoughts is that it doesn’t discriminate against how beautiful, popular, easy to get along with, caring, and honest a person might be. Suicide is an exit route to a seemingly inescapable depressive state. In this depressive state, the mind is at war with itself and has convinced you that if you live, the people whom you love, have to be burdened by your pain and hopelessness, and possibly they will begin to feel it as well. Furthermore, the people who try to love me will always have to work exceptionally hard to remind me that I am worthy and that I will be okay, while I fight an extensive war within myself.

The simple truth is people who commit suicide do so to offer freedom to the people they love. They believe by ending it all, the people they love will be saved from having to be weighed down forever by the pain of a depression that doesn’t belong to them.  I felt that my depression was contagious, so I hid from my friends, family and even my children to avoid spreading the disease that plagued me.

Pain this deep doesn’t see another option when it is staring at the abyss of deep and endless depression. The depression becomes all consuming, sucking away your energy, positive thoughts, the love you feel for others as well as yourself, while removing all the reasons you have told yourself that make you feel worthy of living.

Depression doesn’t fight fair, in fact it fights you with your deepest fears, your worst memories, your hardest losses, and all the self conscious, self doubting, self judging parts of yourself. It reminds you constantly that you are worthless, ugly, unloved, unhappy, unappreciated, not accepted, disloyal, disappointing, and a huge burden to the people you love. It strips you down mercilessly until all you have left is the thought that you can’t go on any longer. This is usually the point when you are staring at a fork in the road with two tunnels.  They are both dark, they are both relentless, they both yield no shining lights at the end.  This is the tortuous decision you must make; To Live or To Die.

No one gets to choose for you and most of the time you are too confused in that moment to explain what you are facing.  This is the beginning of the end.

THE WORST THINGS TO SAY AND WORST ADVICE TO GIVE WHEN SPEAKING TO SOMEONE WHO IS SUICIDAL

How you speak to someone who is struggling is not how you would speak to yourself. Not everyone speaks kindly to themselves and kindness, understanding and patience are the important things to remember when offering support.

I saw a meme that said:

“Treat everyone like they have a sign around their neck that says, ‘tell me why I am important.’ By doing this you will always be able to sell.”

Well if you take this advice and apply it to all your interactions in life, you will not ever contribute to someones pain.  I know, easier said then done.

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The Traffic Lights of Depression by The Depression Project – depressiontrafficlights.com

Actions and the Positive or Negative Consequences

Every action done or not done, creates a positive or negative consequence. The positive consequence may lead to saving someone’s life where the negative consequence may lead to an untimely death.  You will never know what someone is thinking or feeling, whether they are struggling to cope, and if they are staggering through the day with low energy and a loss of interest in all the things they used to love or value.

dtl-pic-1During my suicidal times, most people say to me, “what about your children? What about your family? You have so much to live for and so many people who love you,” “You are so kind, beautiful, talented, and you are better than this.”

I have even heard people say, “snap out of it!,” “stop being dramatic,” “Your life seems so perfect,” “You are going to hurt so many people if you don’t try harder,” “Don’t leave me because I love you and it will kill me to see you gone,” and “what are you thinking? Did you even consider my feelings?”.

The reality is that when you are at the edge of a cliff, you have already made the choice that the ones you love are better off without you and the burdens you believe yourself to be (no matter how untrue it is). In your mind, you are staring into a great void. You have been fighting for days, weeks and years.  The fight is mentally exhausting, trying to convince yourself that you are worthy, but you have failed at doing that. Physically exhausting, you have tried to force yourself to get up and shower, but you just can’t move your body because of the exhaustion, so you have failed again.  Then it is emotionally draining, trying to face your worst moments, deepest fears, challenging phobias, and weaknesses, which you have failed to do and the punishment is to start over and suffer it again.

You fail so much and so often that the only way to escape is to end the pain, to stop the thoughts and be at peace. There is no, “get it together” switch inside the mind when you reach this conclusion. Being attacked by the mind is a war far greater than most people realize and the depths of attack is beyond mental comprehension.

Today, for World Suicide Prevention Day, check on someone who you feel or know is struggling. Take it from me, if someone would have checked on me during my hopelessness, I may have had a reason “why not” to resort to attempting suicide. Someone sharing that they care in my darkest hour may have given me a small glimmer of hope to get help before I found myself writing my final goodbyes.

A phone call, not a text, or a visit can save a life and show your support. Be someone’s hero so you never have to attend their funeral and feel the blame of not having done something to show them you care.

Too Late is Too Late!


Learn more about Suicide Prevention & How you can help:

Here are some songs to help you support someone in need of your help

One of the best songs I have heard about being on the support side of depression is by The Fray entitled, “How to Save a Life.”  The lyrics say it best by showing how “if” he would have done something, the positive consequences would have saved a life.  Here are the lyrics:

“And I would have stayed up with you all night,  Had I known How to save a life” …. “Lay down a list of what is wrong, things you told him all along and pray to God he hears you, Pray to God he hears you” …..  “He will do one of two things, he will admit to everything or he’ll say he’s just not the same and you’ll begin to wonder why you came.”

listen to “How to Save a Life” (with Lyrics) on YouTube


Another great song that helps understand your place as a supporter and their place as a warrior is “I’ll Find You,” by Lacrae & Tori Kelly.  Tori Kelly is the friend trying to help, Lacrae’s part is about the person who is struggling. Tori says,

“Fight a little longer my friend, it’s all worth it in the end, but when you have nobody to turn to, just hold on and I’ll find you.”

Lacrae says:

“I’m hanging on by a thread, and all I’m clinging to is prayers, and every breath is like a battle, I feel like I ain’t come prepared.  And death’s knockin’ on the front door, pains creeping through the back, fears crawlin’ through the windows, waiting for em to attack. They say don’t get bitter, get better, I’m working on switching them letters, but tell God Imma need a whole lot of hope keeping it together.  I’m smiling in everyone’s face, I’m crying whenever they leave the room, they don’t know the battle I face, they don’t understand what I’m going through …..”

Listen to “I’ll Find You” (with Lyrics) on YouTube


The Depression Project

The Depression Project created the “Traffic Lights of Depression” to help those struggling and their loved ones to get through tough times. They share incredible information, blogs and more about detecting whether or not someone you love is at risk for depression and what level they are using the Traffic Lights.

Here is a graphic they posted:

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day

Visit The Depression Project for more information and resources


Project Semicolon

Another great place to learn about Suicide Prevention is Project Semicolon. Project Semicolon was started by Amy Bleuel, who shares her story about her own struggles.  The Mission of Project Semicolon is:

“Project Semicolon is an organization dedicated to the prevention of suicide. Our work is based on the foundation and belief that suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide. Through raising public awareness, educating communities, and equipping every person with the right tools, we know we can save lives.”

What Project Semicolon has to say about Suicide:

“Suicide is a complex issue involving numerous factors and should not be attributed to any one single cause. Not all people who die by suicide have been diagnosed with a mental illness and not all people with a mental illness attempt to end their lives by suicide.” – Continue reading


Andrew Solomon’s TED Talk, “Depression, the Secret We Share”

Andrew Solomon delivers a deeply profound truth during his TED Talk entitled, “Depression, the Secret We Share.” In this speech he says:

We know depression through metaphors. Emily Dickinson was able to convey it in language. Goya in an image. Half the purpose of art is to describe such iconic states. As for me, I had always thought myself tough, one of the people who could survive if I had been sent to a concentration camp.

He continues to say:

One of the things about depression is that you know it’s ridiculous. You know it’s ridiculous while your experiencing it. You know that most people manage to listen to their messages and eat lunch and organize themselves to take a shower and go out the front door and that it’s not a big deal, and yet you are none-the-less in its grip and you are unable to figure out any way around it.

Check out the entire TED Talk by Andrew Solomon


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

Learn more about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 1-800-273-8255 for

Immediate Support for those in distress or crisis.

 

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You Hurt Me

The following poem was written around the year 2000. This poem was about a time in my life where I was molested and scared that I may be raped by someone. It took a long time to get passed the painful experience. I learned, in that moment, that as a young girl, he took my innocence from me. It was a reality I couldn’t escape and I was worried I never would. This happened when I was about 16 and it hurt me deeply in so many ways. I wish I would have never let the things he did hurt me for as long as it did.

Here’s what happened.  I was with a friend and her mom in Miami visiting the mom’s boyfriend.  We all hung out in the pool enjoying a hot summer day in South Florida.  My friend and I got out of the pool and decided to lay down and take a nap since it was blazing hot outside.  After lying down and closing my eyes.  I drifted off only to wake up to the mom’s boyfriend pushing his fingers into you know where and I could feel him on my legs.  I was paralyzed with fear and he pulled his fingers out and started grabbing my legs to pull them apart, using pressure because I was trying to keep him away from me. He grabbed so tight that I had bruises for about a week after the incident.

When I woke up completely, he whispered in my ear that he was going to “Fuck me” and if I screamed he would choke me to death.  My adrenaline started pumping and I kicked him in the balls and he fell off of me so I began to run away.  I ran down the road in a terrible neighborhood with my clothes, purse, and shoes in my hand.  I called my friend to come and get me and I headed home.  I never spoke to the girl or her mother because I was so scared of the boyfriend who threatened to kill me.  I never wanted my parents to know either because my uncle molested me when I was 14 or 15 and they didn’t seem to believe me so I kept it to myself and I wrote this poem.    Hope you all enjoy it.

You Hurt Me

You took me
you urged me
into a daze,
you pulsated my blood
into a craze.

But all of a sudden
you thought you were right,
that even if I tried
you would put up a fight.

Suddenly I knew
I was lost and confused,
You made me feel broken
just scared and used.

When you took something
you knew you could not,
you stepped on my heart
and hurt me a lot.

I know I should say this
only in my head,
But you left discomfort
on the sheets of this bed.

The bruises and hand marks
you left on my thighs,
are proof that will show
through your bullshit and lies.

You will be sorry
for the pain that you start,
I don’t have much proof
but I’ll know in my heart.

I’m still a young girl
you’re a stupid old guy,
You said you saw innocents
in the soul of my eyes.

You’re pitied and ugly
but you’ll know why,
I’ll hurt and I’ll wonder
but you’ll never see me cry.

-Niki Maria

I do not know what my life would have been like had I not had to experience being molested and almost raped.  I wonder sometimes if I would have been stronger, more cautious, been a doctor, a happier person, never experienced a panic attack or anxiety attack?  I will never know.  When someone takes away that innocence without your consent, it destroys the way you start to look at life. I never felt the same after being molested.  It happened twice to me.  I don’t know how I could have avoided it, but the first time it happened, it was my uncle.  The second time, which is written about in this poem, I couldn’t have avoided it.  I am making life the best I can now, but these traumas come back to haunt me regularly.  I just hope that I have gotten passed them now and I can live a happy life.