Who do you think of when you hear “survivors of suicide?” Many people think of the families and friends who are left behind when someone close dies by suicide. I think of another group of people. I think of the people who tried to kill themselves, but didn’t succeed. Call it a cry for help, call it an accident, call it whatever you like. That person could have been gone forever, but they aren’t. You, as a family member or friend, probably feel concerned. Mostly though, you probably feel thrilled they’re still with you.
On December 4, 2011, after attempting to overdose on over-the-counter drugs, I was not thrilled to still exist. To me, death would have been the relief. I was not thrilled when I took my first ever ambulance ride. I was not thrilled to stay in the hospital for a few days with someone sitting in my room watching me 24/7. The part I focus on, is the pudding. Vanilla pudding whenever I wanted it. Pudding, I could deal with. Life, I couldn’t.
From the hospital I was transferred to an institute for psychiatric and addiction treatment. There I took classes on how to cope with things like stress and anger. I learned ways to lessen the impact of my depression. I had my medications changed around. The best part though, was the people. I met some of the most amazing and inspiring people in the world. People more incredible than you could possibly imagine. These people had been through unimaginable situations and struggles… and they were still here. Still fighting. I spent almost a week as an inpatient there before being released into outpatient treatment. Then I had to go back every day for group therapy and scheduled appointments with a psychiatrist.
Returning to the outside world, away from my safe haven of the institution, was not what I wanted or expected. But, it was reality. Not a lot of people knew what happened. Those who did were mostly supportive. The worst part was telling people I had tried to kill myself. I blamed myself. I felt beyond ashamed, guilty, and awful. Sometimes I still do. Some people called me selfish when they found out. Some people told me that I was going to Hell. Others labeled me as crazy. You never forget those moments or words. You never forget how you feel. I made a lot of people very angry with my choice, and I ruined a lot of relationships.
The one thing that everyone wanted to find out was why. Here’s the important part of my story, the part I want everyone to know: It’s not about why I did it, it’s that I did. It’s about the thousands of people who do. It’s about the fact that no one seems to genuinely care enough or take suicide seriously until it actually happens. It about the fact that a lot of people don’t get the second chance I did.
Here’s what you can do: Reach out to people. You have no idea the difference it might have made if someone had said to me, “I’m here, I care, and you’re not alone. You are special. You are unique. You are loved.” Don’t just say it, mean it. You have no idea whose life you might be saving.