11 Songs That Helped People When They Were Suicidal

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We asked The Mighty’s mental health community to share one song that helped them when they were feeling suicidal.

Read the full version of 23 Songs That Helped People When They Were Suicidal.

Read the full transcript:

11 Songs That Helped People When They Were Suicidal

“1-800-273-8255” Logic

“Who Says” Selena Gomez

“Don’t Lean On Me” The Amity Affliction

“Why” Rascal Flatts

“I Won’t Give Up” Jason Mraz

“10,000 Reasons” Matt Redman

“My Immortal” Evanescence

“Unwell” Matchbox Twenty

“Carry On” FUN

“One Less Heart to Break” Patent Pending

“Pursuit of Happiness” Kid Cudi

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What I Want My Workplace to Know About Living With Chronic Suicidal Thoughts

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I’m sitting at my desk at work and my mind is wandering. I’m thinking about the conversation I had with my boss about how I am not cut out for graduate school. I’m thinking about the $175 I spent that I don’t have on clothes I doubt I’ll wear because I’m too self-conscious to wear them. I’m thinking about the fact that I wore a short black dress and patent leather ankle boot heels to work today and how uncomfortable it makes me. I’m listening to the Adele radio station on IHeartRadio and wondering what’s the point anymore?

When you are chronically suicidal, it is incredibly hard to speak up about how you are really feeling. It’s taken three years of intensive treatment — residential, PHP, IOP, outpatient groups, numerous therapists, 10 plus medication changes — to find a therapist I am comfortable naming my suicidality to. I battle my thoughts constantly, and with these thoughts come feelings of unworthiness, insecurities, hopelessness, uselessness, the list goes on and on. While mental illness is not an excuse, it is something that is affecting me in every aspect of my life.

Here’s what I wish I could tell the world I work in, if it were with lack of fear, judgment and received unconditionally:

1. I am trying my best. I promise. Some days are better than others. Sometimes just getting out of bed to walk the dog is the best I can muster. I will fall asleep for hours on the couch, and not get up except to try to stick to my meal plan and walk the dog again. Other days I am able to make it to work, wear something respectable and accomplish a few experiments and have some intellectual conversations. However, know I am trying. I may be in a brain fog half the day, but showing up sometimes is half the battle. And for that, I hope you can understand and forgive me.

2. I make mistakes and I’m not perfect. You don’t need to remind me I am making mistakes. I’m already hard on myself and not being perfect tears me apart inside. I am my hardest critic and I don’t need to hear it from the outside, especially from someone I would expect to be supportive of my endeavors. I hurt and am my own worst critic constantly, so please just understand and try not to humiliate me more than I do already myself?

 

3. I’m dying of heat exhaustion in my sweatshirt and jeans. And it’s getting to me, making me tired, exhausted and emotionally drained. Why? Because it takes extra effort to make sure you don’t show your scars from self-harm at work and when you have to walk to work in the more than 90 degree heat in a sweatshirt and jeans, and you can’t take off the sweatshirt for some relief, your mind becomes distracted from what you should be doing.

4. My mind is often, more often than not, thinking about how I can take my own life using the resources I have at hand. It’s not something I like to admit, yet it’s a part of me and I can’t keep denying it. I don’t have a plan, but I do have daydreams. I spend the better part of my day thinking about ways I could put myself out of the pain and suffering I feel in my life. Yet, I can’t admit this and I feel trapped, and the only way I can escape is by burying myself in some readings or taking a walk around the building and browsing social media to take my mind off of things. I can’t admit anything because I feel judged.

5. I live with profound mental illness, yet I am a functioning member of society who has responsibilities and a job. I’m also a student. I can do it, it just might take me a little longer. And if that’s not suitable for you, then I don’t know what I can say. I try hard, I am trying hard and if that’s not enough, then I am not enough for you and this isn’t worth my time.

Please know I am trying, as I’ve said many times here, and I am trying sincerely with all my heart. I battle my chronic suicidality. I battle my anorexia. I battle my post-traumatic stress disorder and triggers. I battle my urges and self-destructive thoughts daily, moment to moment, constantly. I don’t want to battle the rest of the world too.

So for now, please keep this in mind when you speak to me, and as I struggle to make my battle speakable and known.

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.

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

Thinkstock photo via Adkasai

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What the 'S' Word Means to Me as a Suicide Loss Survivor

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If you have never lost someone to suicide, the word will have a different meaning to you. You may think it is just another way people die. You may think they are selfish, but they are not. They may have been in such pain they felt the only option was to take their own life. They may have felt it was the only way out of their pain. You may think it’s something that will never happen to you — but that’s what I thought too.

When I hear the “S” word, it feels as if I have been punched in the gut. It feels as if I have been knocked down, and I can’t get back up, because I know the power of the word. I know the pain of losing someone that way. I lost my friend Chaney Corley to suicide on September 23, 2015. I never saw it coming. I had no idea she was in that much pain. When I found out she was gone, I couldn’t help but feel guilty. The “S” word rings in my ears and sends shivers down my spine. It stabs my heart, because I know what it really means. But her parents know its power even more than I do.

The “S” word — suicide. We all know what it means, but do not all quite understand its power. Suicide is a form of death, but it is different. It is preventable, but it can also be unexpected. There are warning signs, but not everybody shows them. People think everybody will show clear warning signs and tell other people their intentions to die. But the thing is, they don’t always.

You also can’t control whether or not you develop a mental illness — but there is help. There are solutions and hope. In my experience, suicide hurts so much because you know the person who took their life was in such a great amount of pain. They were in so much pain, they were willing to take their life. But, you also know it could have been prevented.

There are treatment options for people struggling with mental illness. You can always try to help your loved one. After my friend died, I couldn’t help but feel I didn’t do enough.

What does the “S” word mean to you?

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.

Thinkstock photo via balticboy.

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Milly Smith Shares Side-by-Side Photos to Show 'Being Suicidal' Isn't Always What You Think

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When someone dies by suicide, the grief that follows often comes with shock. How could a person who seemed so [fill in the blank here] kill themselves? These deaths often teach us that suicide does not discriminate. There is no “type of person” who takes their life, and the signs of being suicidal might not be as obvious as we think.

To show that being suicidal doesn’t have a “look,” Milly Smith, who runs the Instagram account @selfloveclubb, posted two pictures of herself struggling with suicidal thoughts. In one, she looks more “classically” depressed. In another, she’s smiling and wearing makeup.

Tw: talk of suicidal tendencies. . “You don’t look suicidal”… I remember these words coming from the Dr’s mouth right after I’d just told him that I was having thoughts of suicide. I remember in that moment my 14 year old self felt invalidation, dumb and embarrassed; something no one in that mindset should have to feel. I left feeling confused, what was I supposed to look like? A bottle of pills in one hand and a suicide note in the other? Those words nearly cost me my life, that judgment, those stupid stupid words. . I remember the night just last year that I spiralled and overdosed in my living room. I remember thinking to myself “I can’t get help, I don’t look suicidal, I don’t fit the bill, they’ll laugh at me”. I remember thinking I must have looked the part, must have been wearing the suicidal costume properly when I woke up in Resus as all around me were concerned, worried and sad faces. By then this could have been too late, i might not have been there to see those sad faces if my partner hadn’t of saved my life. . This, this is the danger of thinking mental health has a ‘face’,a ‘look’. This is how stigma, ignorance and judgement towards mental health/suicide affects those who are poorly. . In both these photos i’m suicidal, perhaps not in the same way but on both of these days I had suicidal thoughts racing around. . Stop the judgment. Stop the stigma.

A post shared by Milly Smith ????????☀️???? (@selfloveclubb) on

When Smith was 14 years old and struggling with suicidal thoughts, a doctor told her she “didn’t look suicidal.” This comment made her feel invalidated and ashamed.

“This is the danger of thinking mental health has a ‘face,’ a ‘look,'” she wrote. “This is how stigma, ignorance and judgment towards mental health/suicide affects those who are poorly.”

Smith is known for busting stereotypes on her Instagram, which has over 163,000 followers. In the past, she’s posted about her chronic illness, the physical side effects of medication and about how depression doesn’t have a look.

You can read her full post about being suicidal below: 

“You don’t look suicidal”… I remember these words coming from the Dr’s mouth right after I’d just told him that I was having thoughts of suicide. I remember in that moment my 14 year old self felt invalidation, dumb and embarrassed; something no one in that mindset should have to feel.

I left feeling confused, what was I supposed to look like? A bottle of pills in one hand and a suicide note in the other? Those words nearly cost me my life, that judgment, those stupid stupid words.
.
I remember the night just last year that I spiralled and overdosed in my living room. I remember thinking to myself “I can’t get help, I don’t look suicidal, I don’t fit the bill, they’ll laugh at me”

.
I remember thinking I must have looked the part, must have been wearing the suicidal costume properly when I woke up in Resus as all around me were concerned, worried and sad faces.
By then this could have been too late, i might not have been there to see those sad faces if my partner hadn’t of saved my life.
.
This, this is the danger of thinking mental health has a ‘face’,a ‘look’. This is how stigma, ignorance and judgement towards mental health/suicide affects those who are poorly.
.
In both these photos i’m suicidal, perhaps not in the same way but on both of these days I had suicidal thoughts racing around.
.
Stop the judgment.
Stop the stigma.

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.

Lead photo via SelfLoveClubb on Instagram

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When You Have to Find Reasons to Live Every Morning

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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.

Every day when I wake up, I have to decide if I’m going to live or die. I think this is a question a lot of people don’t notice they answer, as they always chose to live. They may never have reasons to choose otherwise. But each night, as I escape from the torment of my mind, I know I will have to decide in the morning to stay or to go.

Some days, I have better reasons than other days. On a good day, my reason to live will be to see my niece grow or enjoy the snow of the coming winter. I look forward to the changing of the seasons, the spices of autumn and Halloween. I find things that make me want to stay alive in the long term and see what life has to offer. Sometimes I can afford for these reasons to be off into the future a ways. Other times, on the not so good days, those reasons can’t coax me out of the thoughts. On these days, I search for anything, anything at all that I can find some sort or meager excuse to live for, and I give myself a reprieve; “If you make it to this, then you can reconsider. Once you’ve gotten this, you can see if there are any more reasons.”

Sometimes, I wake and can’t identify a single reason I’d like to stay alive. Everything seems painful, useless, hopeless and lost. On those days, even the smallest excuses to postpone my suicide are sufficient. I want to hug my cat one last time. I’d like do the dishes so my partner doesn’t have to do them. I’d like to style my hair. I want to listen to that one song, just one more time. I want to feel the pressure of putting my wedding ring on. I want that plushie I ordered in the mail to get here. I want to get Italian ice. I want to let the waves of the Atlantic splash upon my feet. I want a cup of tea. I’d like a bite of chocolate.

Every day I try to find reasons, big or small, to put off my suicide. Just one more song. Just one more sunrise. Just one lasts goodbye. Just one more dinner at my favorite café.

And sometimes I worry and wonder what it will be like when I wake up and can find no more reasons. I hope that day never comes. I hope I can always find something worth staying for.

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.

Thinkstock photo via vgorbash.

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Sometimes I Feel Like I’m Still Surviving My Husband’s Suicide

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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.

In my opinion “suicide survivor” is such a strange term, but I haven’t thought of a better one yet. “Suicide survivor” sounds to me like someone attempted suicide and lived, but that’s not what it means. The term “suicide attempt survivor” applies to the scenario of someone who survives his or her own attempted suicide. By contrast, I am a suicide survivor, meaning I have survived my husband’s suicide.

I’m not sure one ever reaches a point where she has “survived” her husband’s suicide. Done. Check. Finished. Love doesn’t work that way. Loss doesn’t work that way. It’s not over. It evolves with me. I will not get over it. I incorporate it. I integrate it. I still — yes, 10 years after the fact — talk about Sam and his suicide. I learn to live with it, but it’s not that I simply subsist in a state of melancholy. I find meaning and love and joy. I live my life with passion and integrity and gratitude and laughter and intention and momentum and a full home and an even fuller heart. None of which cancels out Sam’s death. None of which precludes the sporadic incidence of debilitating fear and heart-stopping anxiety. Loss and love and joy exist together. A big, beautiful mess of a life. That’s what it’s like.

Let me be clear on the issue of being widowed: All the ways to become a widow suck. There is no better or worse here. There is only bad. Period.

I still receive mail and even the occasional phone call for Sam, usually telemarketers, but also our local frozen yogurt joint letting Sam know his favorite peanut butter fudge will be featured this week. Some days this irritates me; some days it amuses me; some days it reduces me to tears. His photographs are in albums, in frames on the piano and displayed prominently on the family room wall. His handwriting appears on a random Post-it note, an old anniversary card and inside the front cover of a book. I introduce Sam’s cousins as mine, not only because it is easier than explaining the relationship, but after all we’ve been through together, I’ve simply commandeered them as my own. “Cousin,” for the record, is a word I love. There’s no confusion about cousins. Everybody knows a “cousin” might be a blood relative or might be that person (regardless of relation) who shows up at all the critical moments with a glass of champagne or a hug or both. The one who knows exactly what to say or when to sit silently. The one you count on. Now I even call Sam’s mother and father mine, because they have been parenting me for 27 years. Some days this annoys me, some days it makes me laugh. Some days their constant love humbles me to the point of tears.

I think about Sam every day — in phrases I hear that he would have said or would have found amusing, in restaurants he enjoyed, in experiences we shared, when I happen into a classmate of ours at lunch on Lake Avenue. In moments I wish he could see for himself, especially when I look into the eyes of his sons, or watch them graduate, or laugh at the hilarious things they say, or hold them tight when they crash and when life has disappointed them again. His children are suicide survivors, too.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, but then it was.

Somehow this man I had known and loved for 17 years lost his way. Somehow he left me, his children, his mind and a note behind on that clear, fall Saturday afternoon, in an effort to end whatever emotional and physical pain he had been enduring. It was impossible to believe, but somehow it was true. The psychologists call this step in the process “radical acceptance,” meaning you don’t have to condone the event, but you do have to accept it, which sounds abundantly reasonable and straightforward — in theory. In practice, my first thoughts every morning for months were, This is not my life. This cannot be my life. This was not supposed to be my life.

I did not want Sam’s suicide to define our lives, but like the lightening bolt scar on Harry Potter’s forehead, Sam’s suicide has marked us in significant, permanent ways. Suicide is a complicated death — the ensuing recovery is likewise marked with an array of feelings, stigma and setbacks. In the balance somewhere between the crushing punches of abandonment, betrayal and death and the light-filled promises of presence, love and joy, we press our way forward. We aren’t done yet. We carry Sam’s legacy with us – his laughter, his intelligence, his warmth, as well as his fears, his flaws, his death. We carry him in his wholeness, as a husband, son and father, as a competent professional and as a man who struggled with debilitating back pain and depression. We continue to heal. We persevere, we laugh, we thrive. We are a family who lives with joy and disappointment, and laughter and tears; we remember, we pray, we hope.

If “suicide survivor” means Sam’s suicide didn’t kill me, then I guess the term is accurate, but I bristle at the limits set within the words themselves. I don’t want to be identified by the ways in which I’ve struggled (or the ways he did). It is true that his suicide was unimaginably hard to recover from, but “suicide survivor” puts too much emphasis on my widowhood and not enough opportunity for my post-widow-life. I do not want to be merely a survivor, I want to thrive. I want to be a warrior princess, an emissary for hope. I want to be named after an ancient goddess. I want a superpower and a cute outfit, but “Wonder Widow” gives an altogether wrong impression.

I do not mean to understate the gravity of Sam’s death. I do not want to imply that his death was somehow a gift. His life was the gift. Life and death are intertwined, of course, but suicide is unbearably confusing. If Sam had perhaps suffered a fatal heart attack from an undiagnosed congenital heart defect while he was picking up trash at the park after the kid’s soccer game, or died in a fatal car accident en route downtown to volunteer to feed the homeless, we might have experienced less shame, but the loss would still have been unfathomably painful. Somehow he thought we could live without him, and I resented his confidence. Somehow, we did, and I drew strength from his faith in us. That he could leave us both infuriated and comforted was one of the conundrums we have learned to live with.

“Suicide survivor” does not begin to speak to the full range of my experience. Then again, neither does the more familiar word “widow.”

When Pandora came to earth as a mortal, she was given a jar, but she was not told its contents. When she opened the lid, as any self-respecting, curious, intelligent woman would do, a tumult of evils — death, pain, selfishness, neglect, illiteracy, menopause, exclusivity, narcissism, cancer, gossip, fear, poverty, pride — quickly flew out to afflict mankind, each wielding its own unique brand of ugly. But a single blessing remains in the jar: hope. Her name is Elpis.

Too bad “Princess Elpis” sounds like a total drip.

Hope seems so small a power against everything evil — her small, pale, yellow self sitting humbly at the bottom of the jar, too slow to fly off with all the nasties on their worldwide adventures, her gossamer wings still folded neatly at her sides. She speaks softly but confidently, I’m here. I’m with you. I will not leave your side.

She seems a singularly unremarkable force against so formidable a foe.

When Sam completed his death, he unleashed all manner of horribles. Doubt, shame, shock, blame, fear, abandonment, suffering, sorrow, listlessness, confusion, loss, guilt, rage, regret, isolation. They swirled around me and my sons and our extended family and friends with a fervor that left us breathless. Hope seemed fanciful and ineffectual in the face of so much pain, a total myth. And yet… she was relentless with her loving presence.

Despite the overwhelming darkness, light did shine.

Friends showed up on my doorstep with tears in their eyes and gallons of ice cream in their hands. Telephone calls, notes and emails all arrived with messages of love, love for me, love for my children, love for Sam. Even on my darkest days, I had something to be grateful for. I had two reasons to get up and going every morning. I survived. I was determined that my sons would go on to have lives filled with love and joy and faith, but this would require that I likewise continue to build a life with more love and more joy and more faith. I moved from breath to breath. Within the terrifying silence, I began to hear a soft heartbeat and a voice I recognized: I am here. I am strong. This is my life.

If you had told me 10 years ago that Sam would end his life on a clear blue October afternoon, leaving me and our two young sons, I would have told you that you should really stop smoking whatever you were smoking. If you had continued predicting my future, insisting I would later fall in love with a handsome widower and open my heart to his two teenage sons, that we would get married, blend together a family with our four sons, two cats and a dog and add an “ours” puppy to the mix, I would have told you that you should really share whatever you were smoking.

That was never going to happen. But then it did.

Finding my way after Sam’s suicide was not something I ever anticipated having to do. It was harder than I could have imagined, but my life is also more blessed and meaningful than I could have dared to dream. I am not merely surviving; I am living a full and beautiful life.

There is, I should note, one aspect of the term “suicide survivor” that appeals to me. There is a whole community of beloved souls who call themselves suicide survivors: parents, children, spouses, siblings, friends and partners who have lost a loved one in this terrible way and who continue to find light in their lives. The loss might have introduced us to each other, but it is the love that unites us, a shared faith that death cannot extinguish the light of those we love, a mutual hope another’s suicide will not overshadow our own lives. This community embodies the untold possibilities for those who continue to live whole-heartedly.

I haven’t yet come up with a better term than “suicide survivor,” but when I do, you’ll be the first to know. In the meantime, I will say this: I am a suicide survivor.

sam

Follow this journey on Sushi Tuesdays.

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.

Photos via contributor.

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