The One Thing That Saved Me From Choosing Suicide
This past month was suicide prevention month. As it approached, I realized this year was the first time I’ve had personal experience with the topic I would contemplate sharing. I wish I didn’t have that experience, but I do, and it’s too important not to talk about. I am luckier than the thousands of people who lose this fight every year. I brushed up against the harsh reality of being suicidal and was able to recover. I feel a responsibility to talk about it.
Prior to struggling with depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal thoughts, I couldn’t understand why someone would choose to die. I understand now why someone would choose suicide. I also know now what helped me decide not to. Suicide is not about death, it’s about pain. I think someone who chooses suicide is in an immense amount of pain. This pain can lead them to believe they would be less of a burden if they weren’t here. I have never wanted to die, I believe few actually do. But I have wanted to end the pain and silence the anxiety. I have believed the world would have more joyous and be less burdened if I wasn’t in it. The option of not existing felt much less frightening than the option of existing with the heaviness of depression on my shoulders. Death is terrifying, but so is the idea of living with this immense, unrelenting pain forever. Underneath every decision for someone to end their own life is an unimaginable about of pain. Please remember this and do not pass judgement. Treat your friends who are struggling with grace and love because when it hurts too much to want to stay alive, the beginning of choosing life, for me, has always been love.
Many friends, mentors and medical/mental health professionals stepped in to love me, and that love is the only force that has ever eased my pain, if only for a second. It saved my life when I believed I didn’t deserve to live. Love tells us we aren’t alone, and that is a powerful motivator to seek help and follow through with treatment.
Love shows up and sits in incurable pain. Love listens, takes action and encourages professional help. Love reminds me I have a place in this world. Love doesn’t make everything OK, but it sits with me until I’m OK. It sheds a tiny sliver of light within the darkness of our minds. Love lets us know we’re needed and wanted and then shouts louder than the voices that tell us otherwise. Depression steals the ability to feel love, yet love remains constant, especially when we cannot feel it. Love is unconditional. Love is as relentless as the depression.
Love is an open door to walk through when I cannot sit alone with my own thoughts. Love cannot erase the pain, although it would in a heartbeat, but it surrounds me when the scales tip in favor of escaping the pain. Love can’t always save someone who doesn’t want to be saved, but we can try to reach each other before that point.
If you’re concerned, say something. Research resources. Take time to learn how to approach the topic. Learn what to do, but please, learn what not to do as well, because love can sometimes hurt if not carefully approached, even with the best intentions. Listen to how you can help, follow through and follow up. You don’t have to be a professional. If you have the ability to love, you have the ability to help.
If you’re struggling, if you’re in the trenches, you aren’t alone. Do not give up, but reach out for help. You are deeply loved. You are needed. There is help and there is love for you. It doesn’t cure it — I wish it did — but this battle can’t be won without it.
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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Unsplash photo via Andrew Walton