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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Gun safety training doesn’t work when the act is intentional. Most gun deaths in this country are suicides, most suicides are male and most male suicides are by gun. As a mother who lost my 25-year-old son Peter to suicide by handgun in 2012, I know how horrific it is to lose a loved one this way.

It’s too late for my son, so I do everything I can to alert gun owners to the greatly increased risk of suicide for all who can get their hands on a gun. Even if we can’t save everyone, I believe it is within our power to prevent many suicides by keeping guns away from unsupervised youth and those we know to be in crisis.

About two-thirds of all firearm deaths in the U.S. are suicides — over 21,000 per year and rising. Females attempt to end their lives three times more often than males, but usually use less lethal means. Veterans are also more likely to attempt to kill themselves with a gun. This group has a higher rate of suicide than the general population.

Most gun owners realize a toddler with a gun is in danger, but many parents can be oblivious to the suicide risk easy access to a gun poses to their older children. Teens can sometimes make rash decisions when they are in the height of emotion. Research has shown that limiting access to the most lethal common method would reduce suicide deaths. Researchers found, “states with the highest rates of gun ownership are 3.7 times higher for men and 7.9 times higher for women, compared with states with the lowest gun ownership.” It’s a myth that suicidal people without a gun handy will just find another way to die. Instead, most will find a way to live. But even if they try again by another common method, their odds of surviving the attempt will be higher.

Individuals can also lobby their state and federal legislators to pass gun laws to make Americans safer. A study from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Gun Policy and Research shows that handgun purchaser licensing laws significantly reduce suicides. Since Connecticut enacted such a law in 1995, firearm suicide rates have decreased by about 15 percent. Conversely, when Missouri repealed its handgun purchaser licensing law, the state saw a 16 percent increase in firearm suicide rates.

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If it’s the gun owner who is in crisis, storage at home won’t work. I believe the most effective intervention is to temporarily remove firearms from the premises. All states currently issue protective orders also known as gun violence restraining orders or risk warrants) based on danger to others but only a few consider danger to self as a justification to temporarily remove guns from those at risk of suicide.  Connecticut enacted such a law in 1999. Dr. Jeffrey Swanson and a team of researchers from Duke University School of Medicine estimate that up to 100 suicides have been prevented as a result.

Of gun owners, I ask three things. First, always store guns unloaded and in a safe with ammunition locked up elsewhere. Secondly, never give access to firearms to an unsupervised minor — do not share the key or combination with them. The odds of them needing a gun for protection are lower than the odds of them getting hurt by it.

Finally, I plead with troubled gun owners to temporarily give up their gun before taking their own lives. It is not “weak” or “unmanly” to need help and there is no shame in having a mental illness. Those who care for anyone who is struggling should do everything in their power to see that all guns are removed from the home. This is not a confiscation ploy, but a life-saving precaution. Once the crisis is over, you can get your gun back.

We cannot afford to keep losing the unique perspectives, talents and abilities of tens of thousands of Americans year in and year out to suicide by gun.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

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I am a suicide attempt survivor. I tried to take my life on a lonely night. I was out of the country at a friend’s house when life had gotten particularly low. It is only because some small sliver of hope still had a voice in me that I am alive today. That voice convinced me to call my counselor and after a lot of talking, my counselor convinced me to call 911.

There was a moment when she didn’t think I would call. I think her willingness to be with me in what could have been my final moment is what tipped my scales and got me to call.

What resulted was a horrible experience of ambulances, hospitals, embarrassment and mostly shame.

Bouncing back after my suicide attempt wasn’t easy. And that is what this article is about.

My thoughts went back to that time 8 years ago. Things had gotten so bad in my mind that suicide seemed to be my only choice. At that time, I didn’t think I mattered and my self-loathing was overwhelming. After my suicide attempt, every single moment was a struggle. I had no idea how I was going to make it now that I had decided to live.

I am such a different person now. The new people in my life wouldn’t believe I’d ever been severely depressed — let alone suicidal. They’d hardly believe I even still deal with depression and anxiety and that I’ve just learned effective coping strategies and radical self-care practices that have led me out of the “bad zones.” They see me as a bright, bubbly, always positive ray of sunshine.

After my suicide attempt, every single moment was a struggle. I had no idea how I was going to make it now that I had decided to live.

So how did I get here? How did I get from where I was 8 years ago, trying to bounce back from a suicide attempt on my own to bright and silver lining focused?

It was a long process but these are three of the first steps I took:

1. Distraction.

When I attempted suicide, I was in a foreign country, without close friends or family. After my hospital experience, I had to ride a bus 16 plus hours back home to a city where I didn’t have anyone but my counselor to help me rebuild. Needless to say, I was clearly still in danger mentally. One of the first things that helped me stay alive was distraction. Heavy thoughts were no good at all. So to keep my mind occupied, I distracted myself with any and everything. That meant becoming hyper-focused on whatever was in front of me. I let myself get distracted by the people around me, by the pattern on the seats, by choosing what snack to grab from the vending machine, etc. Anything that would occupy my mind sufficed. I just had to keep my mind busy and the busier I could keep my mind, the more time would pass and then all of a sudden, I would have gotten through a day. And another day. And another day. For a long time, that’s exactly how I made it.

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2. I celebrated mini victories.

When I think about the way I thought before, it amazes me I survived. I even had the belief once that not being able to kill myself was yet another example of my inadequacy. Inadequacy was a major theme and being a failure ran through the core of it. So when I was rebuilding myself, I had to make my focus small. I told myself that just for right now, any little thing I do is a reason to celebrate. If I got out of bed that day, I celebrated. If I made tea that day, I celebrated. Actually making dinner — that was cause for bells and whistles.

It didn’t matter that I didn’t have anyone to celebrate with me. I wrote my little wins down in my journal and reminded myself I was doing so well. I reminded myself I was just a short time away from deciding I didn’t want to be around anymore, so just the fact I’d decided to stay was major. I reminded myself I had at least earned the right to just focus on the small things. I comforted myself and patted my own self on the back. And I told myself that just for right now, that would be OK.

3. I made an important promise.

This is probably the most important thing I did. I was lucky there was someone around me that made me make this promise because it’s not something I thought of on my own. I think of this woman as my angel. She looked me in the eyes and she made me promise to her that no matter what, I would never attempt suicide again. And as hard as it was at the time, I promised her. To this day, that promise has been a savior in my life. There have been times that this promise has been the hook that has pulled me out of a depressive spiral. Many times it has been the catalyst that has spurred me on to get help when I’ve needed it.

Why does a promise have so much power? To me, it’s not the promise part, because you can make promises to yourself that you can justify breaking. For me, it’s much more about who you make that promise to and what disappointing that person would mean for you. In my case, disappointing this beautiful woman that treated me so lovingly at a time when I really needed it was and is unbearable to think of. That is the key for me. If you choose to do this, make your promise to someone it would feel unbearable to disappoint and I believe it will keep you true to it. Find that person in your life — maybe she’s the recovery nurse or your best friend or your daughter or son or your great aunt or even someone who popped into your life for just a brief moment.

This is heavy stuff and the journey from attempting suicide to knowing without a doubt that you are loved and wanted and valuable can be a long one. But it starts with tiny steps. Putting one figurative foot in front of the other is the path forward. These are the tiny steps that set me on my path and my hope is they can help you step forward on yours. I invite you to join me over in my Facebook Group: Inner Goddess/Outer Glow where I share more about the tips and technique I use every day to keeping taking those positive steps forward. In the resource files there, you’ll find articles and worksheets that will help you along your way!

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post. Follow this journey here.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Unsplash photo via William Stitt.


Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

I recently got discharged after being in a psychiatric hospital for five weeks. I saw many, many people come and go. The average stay is five to seven days. I was originally discharged after one week but was readmitted the next day.

Psychiatric hospitals aren’t as horrible as they sound. My mother would always use it as a threat when I was younger. Hospitals are made to help people and keep people safe. Now I was in the child in the adolescent unit. Because of laws, it is a little different than adult units, but it’s not the worst thing ever. It saved my life.

I wanted to die — I really did for a long time, hence why I was there for such a length of time. I kept hurting myself while there, which got me on IVOS (“in view of staff”), which sucks because someone even has to watch you shower. It’s the worst.

I figured out a lot about myself — who my support system is, who I care about, reasons to live. There was a patient care provider (PCP) there who really changed my life. She would always talk about this concert festival she went to. She said how there’s so much out there in the world, like music festivals, that I haven’t done yet. She also said how college is the best thing that helped her, so I only have a year to deal with, then I’d be free (I am currently 17).

I realized I had reasons to live. The biggest thing that helped was that I found reasons for myself to live, not other people. I wasn’t just wanting to stay alive for my nephews or friends, but for my future, for college. Once I found a will to live for myself, everything changed. The PCP always said, “Everyone should be kind to everyone. You are already with others, you just need to learn to be kind to yourself.” That has stuck with me a lot regarding self-harm.

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I’m not saying I don’t have bad days or moments anymore. It’s still hard, but I’ve found ways to cope and manage the feelings. To observe the thoughts, not act on them.

If you are struggling with finding reasons to live, I suggest finding at least one reason for yourself to live; not others, you. Something you haven’t done yet, but really want to; that’s a reason to live.

Don’t be ashamed if you have to go to a psychiatric hospital. It shows you are asking for help and that takes strength to admit.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Growing up, we often aren’t taught about mental illness — and about suicide, we are often taught even less. So if you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, especially as an adolescent, it can be all too easy to think there’s something wrong with you for feeling this way — especially if parents and adults in your life are telling you it’s “just a phase” or invalidating your very real struggles.

But there’s nothing wrong with someone who has suicidal thoughts — and no one is “too young” to feel that pain. The reality is, many kids and teens do experience suicidal ideation, and we need to talk about it and know the signs.

To find out how people knew they experienced suicidal thoughts growing up, we asked our mental health community to share, in hindsight, the signs that made it clear. No matter what your experience growing up was, it is important to remember hope is never lost and there is help out there.

Here’s what they had to say:

1.I used to wish and pray for bad things to happen to me so I would have a reason to feel the way I did. I didn’t realize they weren’t ‘normal’ thoughts for a kid.” — Becca W.

2. “At first, I became resentful — toward everyone. I thought my family just wasn’t doing enough, that no one really provided the support I needed. Then, as I got a bit older, I resented myself. I still didn’t feel supported, but I told myself it was my fault, that I was to blame. And so I closed myself off from everyone else. I didn’t go out with friends, I didn’t date and I certainly didn’t share my feelings. What was the point, if at any moment, I may finally take my own life and rid them all of the burden of having me around? And so I missed out on so many opportunities to develop lasting friendships or even strong bonds with relatives. Because I thought it was a gift to them, especially for when I was no longer here.” — Thomas J.

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3. “I never planned out my future because I never expected I’d ever get here. Now I feel lost and confused because I got further in life than I ever expected to, and now I feel like I’m too far behind to ever catch up.” — Emrys M.

4. “I routinely thought about running away when I was really young.” — Samantha E.

5. “I would sleep for hours because I thought sleeping would chase away those thoughts. Not at all! I developed insomnia because my dreams scared me so much.” — Glenda W.

6. “I stayed really busy. I didn’t leave time for myself to have bad thoughts. When I was in high school, I was there from 6:30 a.m. to at least 6 at night. Some nights it was until 9. Because of all the extracurriculars, I was able to suppress those thoughts. Until the weekends… then everything would crash down. I wished my life was done so I never had to feel the way I did at home ever again.” — Kayla C.

7. “I stopped trusting people. I had gone to my mom and tried to tell her I was having these scary thoughts and feelings. She told me to shut up and go to bed. Next, I tried to tell a counselor at school. He called my father and told him I was making up lies about my home life and trying to get attention. All I wanted was help. To this day, I struggle deeply with trust issues and keep my feelings to myself because I [fear] nobody really cares.” — Shari W.

8. “I would draw. I would spend my day secluding myself somewhere, like my bedroom or in my tree hideout and draw out my emotions… I still draw my emotions. I still seclude myself. Many days, [I feel like] I would be better off dead.” — Ally M.

9.  “I first started thinking about suicide at age 7. Growing up in a Christian house, I relied on Bible verses about how life is a gift and my body is a temple to help me decide to live. I threw myself into values that would keep me alive — such as family — and made sure to notice I would be missed if I were gone. In a way, this helped me to appreciate the love I had around me.” — Mara H.

10. “I avoid places or things I could use to harm myself… It’s confusing, I hear these thoughts in my head but sometimes I really do want to live.” — Thaydean B.

11. “I would randomly wake up in the middle of the night and cry all night or until my mother knocked on the door and told me to get out. I would sit on the floor feeling sorry for myself asking myself why I was alive and how much of a burden I was or even how better life would be for my family if I were gone. I would stare into the mirror and tell myself how unworthy I was and would mock myself because I felt so pathetic — so lonely and so far away from the people around me. Right after, I would wash my face and tell myself — try to convince myself — I would get better.” — Kayla W.

12. “I would, and still do at times, take extreme life-threatening risks because I had no concern for my life or safety.” — Hollie H.

13. “I would hide under the bed and hope I wasn’t ‘bad’ because I wanted to hurt myself.” — Fox I.

14. “I started experiencing suicidal ideations when I was 11 which was well before I knew what suicide was, so I used to go to bed and pray to God I just wouldn’t wake up in the morning. But I always did.” — Dara D.

15. “I became more sensitive to my needs when I start slipping. I talk to very few people about what’s going on in my head but one person in particular I have known since I was a teen. He’s seen me in my ups and downs and will always listen and make time to talk to me when I need to. I grew up spending all my teenage [years] fighting severe depression, have been admitted for the care I needed and have dealt with self-harm and suicidal thoughts. I look back at how I handled everything, the signals my mind presented as I spiraled. I vowed never again will I allow myself to get to that point again. I always seek help when I know I need it.” — Erin W.

16. “I would beg my mom not to make me go to school and I wrote poems about what I was feeling and going through. I also used to stay in my room most of the time and I wouldn’t have anything to do with the rest of the family. My mom asked me what was wrong and I told her I just felt like I was in everybody’s way.” — Kimberly T.

17. “I planned out so much of my future because it was one of my ways of battling those thoughts. To give myself an objective, no matter how big or small, made me quiet those thoughts so I could actually look forward to something in life.” — Audra B.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

Thinkstock photo via Archv.


17 Signs You Grew Up With Suicidal Thoughts

Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

It’s been 13 years since I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Thirteen years of trial and error medication, side effects, hopelessness and occasionally success. It’s been a roller coaster, and some days I just want to get off of it.

For weeks, I had been struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. One night, for the second time in two weeks, I started writing a suicide note – but this time I didn’t get very far. Without giving myself a chance to think, I (finally) picked up the phone and called my psychiatrist’s answering service. I think the tone of my voice, the forced positivity, was a giveaway that this was in fact important enough to wake the good doctor at 11 p.m. on a Thursday. So they put me through.

I immediately realized I had woken him up, and I’m not sure I have ever felt so guilty about anything. I had picked up the phone without thinking, because I would not have done it if I gave myself a chance to think. But now I felt like the worst person in the world — and now I really desperately wanted to kill myself that very second because of it. Luckily for me, he knew what I was thinking. He told me I had done the right thing by calling, and he was glad I called. He told me not to worry about it at all. He arranged for me to stop by his office in the morning, even though he wouldn’t be there, and pick up samples of a new medication. I agreed.

When I got to his office nine hours later, the woman at the front desk had to call him because he hadn’t left instructions. Much to my surprise, she pulled me aside and handed me the phone: “He wants to talk to you.” I felt like I was being called in to meet with the school principal. He told me how much medication to take, and when to take it. Then he told me he was proud of me, and he was really glad to work with someone like me who would call when they needed to. He doesn’t lie, or exaggerate, so it was a rather surprising comment and it meant a lot more to me than he realized. He told me to come see him Monday. I was actually relieved. Suddenly I wasn’t going to have to tough it out and survive another month “alone.” I just had to survive the weekend – and I knew now that I wasn’t really alone.

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By Monday I was nervous. Not anxious in my usual way, but actually nervous. My suffocating guilt about waking him up hadn’t gone away, and I couldn’t make eye contact as I followed him back to his office. When he closed the door behind me, something inside me broke — and maybe it needed to. I was depressed, I was scared, and I had been hiding it from him (and the world) for a while.

There was something no one knew – something I hadn’t even admitted to myself. I never expected to make it to age 30. I thought my time was limited. I never imagined I could survive the rigors of mental illness this long. I never bought a house, had kids, pursued graduate school, learned French, or planned for retirement. I just tried to survive each day and enjoy what I could. Truth be told, I’ve spent my life waiting to die.

There was a painful realization to be had in that moment — I didn’t have to die, but I did have to work hard to live. I wasn’t a lost cause — and I wasn’t out of time. Suddenly it was up to me. I knew I couldn’t choose to make depression go away — that was abundantly clear — but I could choose to see a doctor, take medication, and ask for help when living gets too hardThat was the piece of the puzzle I simply hadn’t accepted yet.

Living is possible — but not without help.

I wish I could say there was some magic that happened — that I jumped up and got outpatient therapy, overcame my anxiety, went back to school for my master’s, found a career in counseling, and my life transformed before my 31st birthday (and that I never again contemplated suicide).

Not quite.

But I’m going back to my doctor next week, staying on medication as prescribed, taking a class at community college and reminding myself as often as I have to that it’s OK to ask for helpI’m learning to accept that depression is not a death sentence — even when I want to die. And that asking for help is not a sign of being needy or weak.

It’s an example of strength and a source of hope.

We all need saving sometimes, even from ourselves.

Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via 04linz


YouTuber and co-host of the podcast Mentally Ch(ill) Stevie Ryan died by suicide on Saturday, July 1. Ryan rose to fame through her YouTube series “Little Loca” and celebrity impressions. She also starred in “Stevie TV,” a sketch-based show on VH1, and co-hosted the E! series “Sex with Brody.”

Ryan was open about her mental health, frequently tweeting about it and discussing depression on her podcast.


According to People, Ryan and her and co-host Kristen Carney also discussed suicide and the death of Ryan’s grandfather earlier that week in an episode released two days before Ryan’s death.

“I’m just worried that this is going to send me into a deeper depression,” Ryan said of the show’s effect on her mental health.

Fans and colleagues of Ryan’s took to Twitter to mourn her passing.

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If this news is hard for you, know you are not alone — and there is help for people who are feeling suicidal. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

Header image via Facebook.

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