Having been on both ends, this is so spot on!
Original article post can be found here: http://www.ravishly.com/2016/01/14/what-i-wish-my-loved-ones-understood-about-being-suicidal
My mother hit the nail on the head when she said that I didn’t come with an instruction manual.
If I did, I’d request that it include at least one chapter on suicide — because none of us, including me, were prepared for how to deal with suicidal thoughts and actions. As it turns out, mental illness would drive me to the end of my rope on more than one occasion.
The truth is that no one prepares you for that phone call, the one when your loved one is on the other end of the line saying, “I just can’t do this anymore.”
No one prepares you for that moment when they hang up abruptly, just after you’ve made out the faint sounds of them rummaging through — is that the medicine cabinet? Are they going to overdose? Have they already taken something? Oh my God.
I’ve been the person who both got the call and made the call — suicidee and suicidal, if you will — and I know what it feels like to be both on the ledge and the one trying to talk someone down.
But if you’ve only ever been the one on the ground, you might not understand what it looks like from way up there. It’s difficult to understand and even more difficult to empathize with a person who is suicidal, having never been there before.
And while I can’t give you an instruction manual, I can tell you what it feels like to be there.
Here’s what I wish you knew:
1. Please don’t pretend to understand what it’s like if you don’t actually know.
I know that you’re just trying to connect with me, but listen, I can see through the bullshit from a mile away. I know when you can’t actually relate to what I’m going through.
Remember that one kid at summer camp who claimed to have extensive knowledge of French kissing, and then got to talking a little too much untileveryone knew that he was full of it?
…Yeah. If you haven’t been suicidal before or if you haven’t experienced depression like this, that’s OK. I don’t actually need you to understand. I just need you to be here with me right now. I called YOU, of all people, for a reason.
2. I don’t need you to fix this.
If I’m at rock bottom, the reality is that my situation is one that won’t be fixed in a single night. Crises like these aren’t about fixing things — it’s about being my support, helping me to hang in there when it seems like there’s nothing worth holding on for.
By all means, share resources and coping strategies with me if I ask for them. But if you enter into this conversation with the expectation that you can fix all of my problems, it’s just going to create a whole lot of stress for us both.
3. The fact that I told you what I’m feeling is a really huge deal.
Being suicidal is one of the most vulnerable positions a human being can be in. It’s also one of the most difficult things you can endure. It took a lot of courage to talk about what I’m going through. Honor that courage.
And remember: I chose you. Of all the people I could call in this moment, I trusted you. That means something.
Instead of ending my life, I reached out to you. You mattered enough to be the person that I picked up the phone for. You mattered enough to be the face that I looked for in my darkest hour.
The fact that I’m including you now means that I care very deeply about you. Please don’t forget that.
4. Take me seriously.
I wish I didn’t have to say this, but you need to take everything I’m saying very seriously. It may not feel like it, but it’s a matter of life or death.
5. Telling me that there’s hope when I feel hopeless isn’t always helpful.
DO tell me about concrete alternatives, resources, and options that I have in my position. But DON’T give me empty promises of how beautiful life is or other poetic ideas that you think will inspire me to keep on living.
If I could comprehend that kind of optimism right now, I probably wouldn’t be in this position.
6. My feeling this way isn’t your fault.
Please, please, please don’t blame yourself for how I’m feeling in this moment. Could’ve, should’ve, and would’ve scenarios will only make us both feel worse. Instead, focus on the here and now, and how to get us through this.
7. My pain is valid.
You may not understand my pain, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid. Don’t tell me that I don’t have a reason to be depressed or suicidal. Don’t tell me my life is too good to throw away. Don’t tell me that there are people out there with worse problems than mine.
I don’t deserve to be punished or made to feel guilty just because I’m having a difficult time in my life.
Validate my pain. Acknowledge my suffering. And know that, for me, it’s very real. Real enough to make me contemplate suicide.
8. I may not be ready for what you have to say (right now), but it could mean everything to me later on.
Talking to a suicidal person can sometimes feel like talking to a brick wall. The truth is, I’m not always ready to hear what you have to say. Your messages of support, love, and warmth may go right over my head. I’m in a dark place and I can’t always see the light from where I’m at.
But I’ll tell you what: I remember the people who talked me off the ledge years and years ago. I remember what they said to me to this day. And even though, in that moment, I couldn’t really grasp what they told me, it came back to me.
I remembered it in therapy. I remembered it the next time I was hurting. I remembered it in recovery. And those words that, at first, meant nothing to me eventually came to mean everything.
What you’re saying to me is never in vain. Because while it may not resonate at the time, it could be the affirmation that I cling to weeks, months, years down the line. Sometimes it takes a while before the message really sinks in.
Give me time. I’ll thank you later.
Have a suicidal loved one and not sure what to do? Read this guide from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or, if you need immediate assistance, give them a call at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Came across this article today and wanted to share it. Original article can be found here.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in America in 2014. This means someone in the U.S. died by suicide every 12.3 minutes that year. But with early intervention, support and treatment, suicide is preventable. If we help those at risk — and make help more accessible for those who need it — we can live in a world where these numbers shrink.
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or just needs someone to talk to, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. To learn more about the warning signs of suicide, head here.
For now, hear these messages from members of our Mighty community who’ve been there. We hope their words give you the push to get the help you need and deserve.
Here’s what they want to tell anyone who’s in a dark place:
1. “Although it’s cliché and you may not believe it right now, it really does get better. I promise you won’t regret sticking through it.” — Kristy Hindman-Cook
2. “You deserve to give yourself one more try. You deserve to live. You deserve to be.” — Bambi Sears
3. “Open up, let someone in so they can find a way to help you through your tough times. No one deserves to go through life alone.” — Katherine J Palmer
4. “People have different reasons for suicidal thoughts and depression, so there’s no easy solution. All I can say is that tomorrow is a chance to start over. You just have to make it to tomorrow.” — Kelley Robinson
5. “Please reach out. I don’t care how dumb or weak you think you are or sound. Get the help you deserve.” — Morgan Stacy
6. “[Suicide] is not a solution. It doesn’t fix anything.” — April Dominguez
7. “[If you live in the United States], call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — it’s in my speed dial. In my experience, the counselors are very caring and helpful. They’ve talked me out of a crisis many times.” — Debbie Kasuba Hendrix
8. “This world needs you.” — Alicia Nelsen
9. “You are worth it. Even when it’s dark and deep and cold. You are important. Even when you think your light is too dim, someone sees it. And you. You don’t have to go through this alone. I promise.” — Kelly Jo
10. “Those dark thoughts make your days feel like years and your weeks feel like centuries. But it doesn’t have to always be that way. You can tell someone. You can get help.” — Arielle Smith
11. “Depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses need to be treated. I know the darkness seems an eternity and hope is so far gone, but when you ask for help and receive it, life will turn around. I am a Survivor, and you are too.” — Renee Sheridan Birchall
12. “Don’t be ashamed of your suicidal thoughts. They don’t make you a bad person or make you weak. They are just a symptom of a mental disease, just like chest pain is a symptom of heart disease. When we experience symptoms, it’s time to seek help, regardless of the disease. Chest pains don’t make a heart patient weak or bad, and neither do any of your thoughts.” — Jennifer Sladden
13. “The people in your life are not better off without you.” — Cary Rice Schwent
14. “Just make it through that hour — half-hour, 15 minutes, one minute. It’s so hard, but break it down to the best of your abilities to make it through.” — Katherine Cavaliere
15. “Getting help is easier than the alternative.” — Suzy Ellis
16. “It’s a lie. Your mind lies like an ancient serpent. You are beautiful and worthy and the loss of you would devastate and cripple the hearts of those who love you. Don’t suffer in silence; the liar is counting on you to isolate. Speak up and let people help you. You have purpose on this Earth. Please don’t leave.” — Shell Rioux Hurrell
17. “Nobody will understand unless you tell people your story. And if that story saves one more life, then choosing to stay will not have been in vain.” — Douglas Honeywill
18. “Honestly…I don’t know. But what I’ve found out is that it’s OK to not know. Going slow is better than quitting.” — LeChondra Sapp
19. “There’s a difference between wanting to kill yourself and wanting to kill the part of you that wants you to kill yourself. It’s still hard, but now that I know there’s a difference, I can get much better help when I’m struggling.” — Alison Taylor
20. “I don’t know your story, your pain, your bone-deep tiredness, your struggle or your reasons. But I would listen to them all. We’re out here, thousands of us, waiting on helplines, aching for the chance to hold out our hand, hold yours as long as you need it, until you can rest a little, lean a little and believe in possibility of tomorrow.” — Charlene Dewbre
21. “What you’re feeling now is real. It’s not true, but it feels true. Call someone trained to ground you in reality and help you. Call.” — Joel-Sara Taylor
22. “Someday the light will come and it will be more beautiful because you are a survivor.” — Ashley Roenfeldt
If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.
*Answers have been edited and shortened.
Well unfortunately due to an injury I have had to make the decision to defer my entry for the Marine Corps Marathon to next year. I have a torn hamstring tendon. Had it been the muscle injured instead of the tendon I might have been able to train through it. A tendon injury is more serious than a muscle injury and mine is being slow to respond to treatment. I have missed nearly 2 weeks of running so far and the projected time off from running is 4-6 weeks. With the MCM being only 8 weeks away, it is unrealistic that I could recover and train appropriately for it.
Injuries are frustrating. This one is frustrating to me for so many reasons. Running is my coping mechanism. I have been grumpy lately and I know it’s a result of not being able to run. Mostly though, I think I am frustrated more because I was running the MCM to raise awareness for suicide prevention for first responders. I will have to discontinue the campaign now that I won’t be able to run. I am very disappointed about that. Suicide is such a hard topic to talk about. Running the MCM gave me a platform to talk about suicide prevention.
The media doesn’t publicize first responder suicides nearly as often as they occur. Every year we hear about how many Law Enforcement Officers and Firefighters are killed in the line of duty. Would it surprise you that nearly double that take their lives each year by suicide? I bet most people don’t know the devastating toll of the job on first responders. I was an EMT for only a short bit so I can’t say I know all they go through but I have an idea. There is one call I ran while an EMT that I will never forget and it has to do with fire. It’s part of the reason why I struggled so much after my fire a few years ago. My fire brought back a memory I thought I had put away forever. And that’s only one call, how many calls haunt first responders in their dreams? I bet it’s well more than one. Whether a firefighter, EMT, paramedic or police officer, they all experience things that most of us never could imagine. And because most of us can’t relate to what they see and experience, first responders find it hard to reach out to others who are not first responders. So what do they do? They bury it. They don’t want to burden their family or friends with the emotional things they see on the job. The problem with not talking about it is it leads to coping mechanisms that may not be safe such as drinking, drugs and other risky behaviors that help distract from the nightmares.
This year alone 71 firefighter suicides have been confirmed including the recent suicide of a firefighter while on duty in Katy, Texas. It’s very possible the number of suicides is higher than that as not all suicides are reported as suicides. EMS suicides are generally included in firefighter suicide statistics. It’s harder to track LEO suicides because oftentimes the death is not reported as a suicide. And that’s too bad. In order for officers, firefighters and EMS to be more likely to get help, they need to know there is a support system in place. If law enforcement won’t acknowledge that a suicide has happened, it is less likely for an officer to reach out to someone if they are struggling. For example, Johnson County (KS) Sheriff’s Office had a deputy lose his life to suicide earlier this year. It was not reported as a suicide and therefor the opportunity to help others who may be struggling was missed. The more we talk about suicide out in the open, the better chance we have of saving someone who may need help but is too afraid to ask for it. Suicide needs to be talked about openly in order to break down the stigma associated with it. Until that happens, people will continue to be afraid to ask for help. I speak from experience here. Fire and EMS have gotten a little further than law enforcement in regards to suicide prevention. Suicides are now being tracked as much as possible in Fire/EMS and workshops are being put in place to help departments when they lose one of their own to suicide. The organization I was raising funds for is one of those organizations that provides workshops for LEO/Fire/EMS to help with suicide prevention as well as grief after a suicide. To learn more about it visit the Sweeney Alliance at http://sweeneyalliance.net/ or the Grieving Behind the Badge blog at http://grievingbehindthebadgeblog.net/.
I may not be able to run the Marine Corps Marathon this year but my desire to talk about suicide prevention has not diminished. It’s a difficult topic but one that’s worth having a conversation about. You might just save someone’s life.
If you or someone you know is struggling there is help. Reach out to a friend, family member, coworker, partner, spouse, counselor, priest…. just reach out. Where there is help, there is hope.
I will be running the Marine Corps Marathon in October to honor the lives of Nico Cruz and TJ Shavers and to raise awareness for Suicide Prevention for First Responders. Funds raised will go to The Sweeney Alliance and Rethink The Conversation. These 2 organizations are collaborating to develop national programs to educate first responders about suicide and coping with the aftermath. Will you consider sharing and supporting my cause? http://www.gofundme.com/suicidehelp.
19 out of 20 people who attempt suicide fail but those same people are 37 times more likely to succeed the next time they attempt. Those are staggering statistics, especially for someone who is an attempt survivor.
If you havne’t seen this TED video please take the few minutes to watch. There are very few resources for attempt survivors. It’s time to make a change. As John ends the video saying… “It’s a conversation worth having and an idea worth spreading.”