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Joe Biden Says He Experienced Suicidal Thoughts After His Tragic Loss

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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 741741.

Joe Biden is no stranger to tragedy. The 77-year-old Democratic presidential candidate has lost numerous members of his family, including his former wife Neila Biden and daughter Naomi in a car crash; and his son, Beau Biden — the Attorney General of Delaware from 2006 to 2014 — who died of brain cancer. However, losing his first wife and daughter nearly claimed Joe’s life as well.

In an interview with CNN correspondent Gloria Borger for a new documentary, Biden revealed that after the sudden loss of his wife and daughter in 1972, he contemplated suicide. While he shared he never had a plan, the loss of his family members put him in a very difficult place.

“I thought about what it would be like … to end it all,” Biden said. “But I didn’t ever … do it or wasn’t ever even close.”

Biden is not alone. Suicide is complicated — there’s never a single “reason” people have suicidal thoughts. But a major traumatic event like the unexpected loss of a loved one can cause deep grief, depression and, for some, suicidal thoughts. Painful experiences can trigger a desire to escape when things seem hopeless, and suicidal thoughts are one way people experience this, along with substance use. Biden said he experienced this as well.

“I don’t drink at all. I’ve never had a drink in my life, but I remember taking out a fifth of, I think it was gin, and put it on the kitchen table,” he said. “But I couldn’t even make myself take a drink. What saved me was really my boys.”

Our contributor, Bria Barrows, shared some insight about what suicidal people think and feel in the moment. “To the suicidal mind, you feel trapped. You feel suffocated by the state of your psyche and there seems like there is no way out. Day in and day out, you deal with mental agony and anguish that both frightens you and pushes you at the same time. You feel like death is the only way out.”

If you’re struggling with a difficult loss or suicidal thoughts, you’re not alone and help is available. These articles from others who have been there can be a great resource for you and your loved ones:

Header image via Gag Skidmore/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Originally published: August 19, 2020
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