18 Messages of Hope From People With Disabilities Who've Struggled With Suicidal Thoughts
As people with disabilities, we can struggle with pain, fatigue and other physically and mentally stressful aspects of our conditions. We also live in a world that often misunderstands us, devalues us and does not prioritize the things we need to live successful, happy lives — such as supportive, affordable health care, accessible buildings, welcoming employers and so much more. So it’s unfortunate, but not surprising, that studies show people with disabilities are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide, and people with chronic illnesses are at higher risk as well.
But when someone with a disability dies by suicide, the narrative tends to be change. It’s sometimes regarded as understandable rather than as a tragedy because “who would want to live like that?” People whose disabilities aren’t imminently terminal have even been allowed to die by assisted suicide, or to withdraw their life support because of perceived suffering that could have been alleviated through better medical care and services such as in-home personal assistants and accessible transportation. Society often promotes the idea of life with a disability as not worth living, instead of recognizing that people with disabilities can live rich, full lives like anyone else.
To survive and thrive with a disability, we need support from people who understand, who’ve been there and who can affirm our lives as equal and worth living. So we asked our Mighty community: If you’re an adult with a disability and have experienced suicidal thoughts, what’s one message you would give to other disabled folks who are struggling?
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “Stay strong, it will get better. Six months ago, I was in a dark place, not thinking I’d ever move out of my parents’ house or anything. I just got accepted to my dream university in a different state and I’m moving in January! I got a hearing date for my SSI, and I couldn’t be happier! It gets better!” — Mickey R.
2. “Your disability does not define you.” — Molly C.
3. “Find someone you can trust to talk about things with.” –Susan S.
4. “It’s hard. It’s so tough. Most of the world won’t understand what you’re going through, but you’ll find someone to hold your hand and help you through it. Reach out and you’ll find them.” — Blythe V.
5. “There is more to life than work. Our society puts so much pressure on us to have a job and treats us like we are lazy and worthless if we don’t. But the truth is that we are valuable even if we don’t work… If you wouldn’t tell someone else in your position that they are worthless and a burden, don’t tell it to yourself.” — Caroline M.
6. “The darkest hours are just before a perfect sunrise. My motto.” — Diane B.
7. “I was picked on as a child and called the R word until one time I decided to try to hurt myself. My parents got me help right away and the therapists told me that no matter what, I was special and unique. It took me months to years to begin to like myself, but my family and my small number of friends helped me along the way. You’re here for a reason; don’t give up. Yes, there are bad days, yes people will judge you, but remember you were meant to be the person you are today. So don’t give up, there are good people out there.” — Tiffany S.
8. “Don’t be afraid or ashamed to seek professional help.” — Cassie K.
9. “We do things at our own pace. It’s not a race, we can do it in our own time. If it takes someone only four years to graduate university, that’s great, and you should be happy they’re moving on in their life. If you realize you have your own stuff to work on, making sure you’re mentally healthy, and it takes a little longer to graduate, then that’s good too. You recognized it’s OK to get a little extra help and to take a little extra time. You’re still going to make it.” — Mia C.
10. “Just hang on, this will pass. I know we hear that all the time from people who can’t possibly understand but take it from me, someone who has definitely been there, it will pass as long as you don’t give up. It’s not going to be easy — in fact it feels damn near impossible — but it will pass. — Kristen B.
11. “Always believe yourself. Even if the most important people don’t. It sucks to constantly feel the need to prove yourself. But you’ll never win. Just trust yourself, believe yourself and take care of yourself. ‘Cuz in the end the only thing that matters is the way you treat yourself. Please be kind; having disabilities is already hard enough. Try not to judge yourself. — Lotte S.
12. “You are still worthy of life, of having a life, you just have to figure out a new way to live it. Set new goals. Dream a new dream.” — Steve R.
13. “I am not my disorder. It gets better, then worse, then better. But the feeling passes. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Fight, fight, fight. Your life is important. — Alexa A.
14. “Don’t let the thoughts win. They’re not you. You are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for. Even if you don’t realize it. — Alicia M.
15. “It will get better. Even when it feels like it never could… All of a sudden it does, it gets better. Even if it’s just a case of adjusting to your new normal. I had a close friend walk away from me when I was feeling like this — if the same happens to you, know that you deserve better. No one can or should judge you if they haven’t walked in your shoes. Particularly not loved ones.” — Lara C.
16. “As someone with borderline personality disorder… I know the post meant for me to be all positive and uplifting, however I’m speaking from the heart. The first thing you need to do is accept your disability for what it is. I’ve come to terms with mine. The next thing you need to do is realize everyone’s disability is different and just because you’re not ‘better’ after say a month or even a year doesn’t mean you aren’t making progress. And the last thing I want to say is… there really are so many people out there dealing with what you’re going through. So if you find someone who has some of the same problems, it can really help. — Lisa F.
17. “Life is temporary. The bad times won’t last forever. Do the best you can each day… not what others want from you, not what you think others want from you…just your personal best. It’s OK to not be well/perfect/productive. Some days are just going to be harder than others.” — Robyn M.
18. “Hang on. You are worth more than you know. You are capable of more than you realize. To quote a line from my favorite movie [‘The Imitation Game’]… ‘Sometimes it’s the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.’” — Lisa L.
For more messages of support and understanding from people with disabilities, check out The LiveOn Movement.
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 “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
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Thinkstock photo by Moissey EV.