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I Used to be Scared to Admit My Suicide Attempt, but I’m Not Anymore

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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 741741.

We’ve all got days and dates burned into our memories forever, and for a variety of reasons, good and bad. Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, anniversaries of death or divorce, graduation days and plenty of others. Memories are an important part of defining who we are, understanding how we came to be where we are in life, and what lessons we’ve learned to take with us going forward. We’ve all seen good days, bad days and “eh” days. Most are not very memorable, and if they are, many are probably not worth being held onto long-term. But those few days and dates that do deserve to be remembered for a lifetime are the brightest and darkest days of our lives, filled with lessons to inform how we live. There’s one date burned into my mind that I’d like to share with you, and why it‘s important.

October 31, 2019.

Now, you might have noticed right away, “Hey, that’s Halloween!” And if you did, good catch! That holiday alone is not why I remember that specific day, but it helps peg the memory and story of what happened that day. Halloween of 2019 was the day of my suicide attempt.

Now, as with all good stories, we’ll need context, context, context. Let’s wind the clock back about two years. It was my junior year of college, I was in a miserably toxic relationship with my partner whom I lived with, my academics were falling apart, and my mental illnesses were far from under control or stable. I was in the worst depressive episode of my entire life, and that’s saying something given my history. I’d dealt with depression in the dark for half of my life at that point. A few years before then, I was actually hospitalized for active suicidal ideation and self-injury. But even then, I didn’t attempt. I was just very close. I’d thought that would be the worst I’d ever get. I couldn’t have imagined how depressed and terrible I felt back in that fall of 2019.

My depression finally spiraled so far that I contemplated ending my life yet again. I had gone through phases in and out after the hospital of having suicidal thoughts, and a handful of times I would say I seriously considered it. But this was different. This was bad enough to bring me to an edge I had known before, an edge that had long tempted me to walk off (this is a metaphor). And on that night, October 31, 2019, I tried.

For obvious reasons, I am not going to detail any part of the “how” of my attempt, and I’m not going to paint a picture of the events of that night. The point I want to make clear is that, on that day, I never once thought about backing out of my plan. I had decided what I had, and I did what I planned. And here’s the real interesting detail: by all measures of the incident, medically speaking, it’s nothing short of a miracle that I’m alive today to write this story. My attempt should’ve “worked,” and the fact that I lived to tell the tale defies medical expectation.

A little more than a month later, very shortly after my 21st birthday, I somehow got up the courage to tell two friends of mine what had happened that night. I’m not sure how or why I told them, but I did, and they supported me how they could. But other than them, nobody on Planet Earth knew. Most people in my life had known up till that point that I had bipolar disorder and that depressive episodes were my main issue. Many know of my history with suicidal ideation, and I’ve rarely been afraid to admit that. I’ve written story after story, and have had probably hundreds of conversations with people, telling my story of how back in high school I nearly attempted to end my life. But admitting that I had, in fact, attempted, was something different.

I was ashamed in a lot of ways. I was ashamed that, up to that point, I had invested so much money, time and energy (and not just my own) to improve my mental health and my life overall. I was scared of the repercussions. If people knew, would they try to hospitalize me again in a psychiatric ward? Would my family insist I drop out of college to come home and deal with my issues, away from the burdens of school (something I greatly did not want to do)? Would my friends and family treat me differently? It certainly would make people sad and scared. That was their response when I told them I was suicidal. I could only try to imagine what they would do and feel if I had admitted that I had gone one step further. I didn’t want to put the burden of those emotions on them, and I convinced myself it wouldn’t have been fair to. But, at what cost to myself have I kept this secret hidden? What has it gained me trying to hide one of the most pivotal moments of my life?

I can say, confidently, that I have not struggled with suicidal ideation for a long time. It has hit me a few times since that October night, but rarely and not for a while. I have never made another attempt, and I certainly plan not to. I would be lying if I said it’s never crossed my mind as passive thoughts, or that I’ve somehow “cured” myself of suicidal ideation. There is no such thing, so to strive for it would be futile. But what am I supposed to do with this story? How am I to use it to better myself? Wouldn’t it just be better to leave the past where it is and move on? I wish it were so easy and simple.

The truth is this there is little point in denying reality. Pretending October 31, 2019 just didn’t happen waters down the progress I’ve made since that night. There are obviously much better and healthier ways to learn the lessons I did from my attempt, but being scared of my own story would weaken those lessons. That is reality, and that is why I’m ready to tell my full story. I struggled with depression in high school. I was hospitalized for self-injury before college. I was diagnosed with mental illnesses in college. I relapsed into unhealthy addictions and behaviors in that time as well, all of which I am recovering from. And yes, October 31, 2019 happened, and that was the day I made an attempt on my life. I’m no longer scared to admit it.

I will say that not everyone’s story is so easily framed. Everyone who has struggled with mental illnesses and/or suicidal ideation has a unique story. Stories can have overlap and similarities, but at the end of the day, my journey with mental illness and my suicide attempt are not like anyone else’s. So, just because I can say the things I have so confidently does not translate to “this is what everyone who has a similar story should do and think.” I am personally ready to tell my story and reveal my truth. But I do not want the point of this to convey, in any way, an expectation that others should automatically follow suit. We are the masters of our own stories, the author of our own lives. We get to decide if and when we tell certain parts of our stories. There are still things I am not comfortable revealing just yet. But this story, this has weighed me down for too long, and I refuse to give it any more power over me.

I used to be scared to admit my suicide attempt. I’m not anymore.

Photo by Thái An on Unsplash

Originally published: August 11, 2021
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