Suicide has been in the media a lot over the past few years, particularly very recently with some amazing, talented, seemingly 'happy' celebrities taking their own lives. But suicide is still hugely misunderstood.
Suicide isn't just simply, "I want to die!" and it certainly isn't 'the easy way out' or 'selfish', as many people still believe it to be.
Having had suicidal thoughts and made several serious attempts on my life I can assure you that it is not a spur of the moment thought or something taken lightly. In my case it was when I had reached a point where I felt nothing! I was numb. Not sad. Not upset. I was completely void of feeling and that is the scariest place to be.
I had lost all hope. All of it. Can you even imagine what that's like?
I had a lovely home. Family, friends, an amazing husband and beautiful son but depression hid all that from me. Told me I didn't deserve it. It told me that my husband would leave me soon anyway and my son was going to end up broken and alone if I continued to be his mother. It told me everyone hated me. My friends weren't my friends - not really, they talked about me behind my back and that my family wanted me dead too.
Depression made me believe that killing myself was the best option for everyone else around me that I cared for. If I truly loved them then I would need to be gone. Gone forever.
So you see in this case, and so many others, suicide had little to do with your own feelings. It was me doing what was best for people that I cared about. Or so depression made me believe.
Suicide also isn't just someone moping around being miserable telling everyone 'I want to die' or 'I want to kill myself'. This is something that people find difficult to understand. Yes, the majority of people who take their own lives suffer depression so they are depressed, but a lot of times - again this is true for me - when you've made the decision to end your life you almost begin to feel a little 'better'. For example, I had planned my attempt and knew when I was doing it, how I was doing it, and it started to make me feel lighter. I knew it wouldn't be long until everyone I loved would be free of me and the pain I was bringing to their lives.
This is a major sign so I would urge anyone who is caring for someone or who is close to someone who changes rapidly from being at rock bottom to seemingly 'OK' and together, this might mean they have made their plans. Now, of course, sometimes it is not going to mean this. Sometimes it might just be things improving but if it is a rapid change then I would still remain vigilant.
Another important part of suicide is, like the title says, it is not simply someone declaring they want to die. We will often say other things. I few of the things I would often say were;
"I just want it to stop!"
This for me was something that I remember saying a lot. I remember saying it to my husband and him looking back at me with such helplessness. I wanted the debilitating internal pain to stop. I wanted the invasive and frightening thoughts to stop. I wanted to stop feeling so overwhelmed by everything. I wanted people to stop looking after me and let me die.
"I don't want to be here anymore!"
Again this was something I remember saying a lot. I remember saying it to many professionals and family members. Their response always being "You don't want to be here, at this place or you don't want to be here at all?" The latter was almost always what I meant. I just couldn't face saying the words "I want to die" out loud.
"I just can't do this anymore!"
I remember saying this many times through hysterical tears to my husband. He would always reply "Yes, yes you can. I believe in you...." But it would fall on deaf ears. He had no idea the pain I was feeling. Physically and emotionally I felt I could not cope another minute with this pain or the pain I was inflicting on others.
I think it is important to say that everyone you suffers with suicidal thoughts and/or tendencies will suffer differently.
Not everyone will want to die as I did on many occasions. It might be for them that they can't cope with the overwhelming thoughts they are having or the pain they are feeling and they are desperately asking for help in the only ways they know how or feel comfortable with.
I guess it's about staying vigilant and being open. Do not judge. Do not assume you know how they might be feeling. Do not assume it's 'just for attention'. We all have a responsibility to remove this awful stigma and we can only do that by talking and sharing our experiences in a non judgemental way.
Take care of yourselves and others.
Be kind always, you never know what battles people might be facing.
Lots of love
Useful websites and helplines:
Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 UK and ROI (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill)
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41
Maytree is a sanctuary for the suicidal in north London in a non-medical setting. For help or to enquire about a stay, call 020 7263 7070