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Why I Plan to Tell My Children About My Suicide Attempts

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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.

I’m no stranger to suicidal ideation or even suicide attempts. In fact, I have tried to end my life multiple times and racked up several stays in my local psychiatric hospital. Unfortunately, some of those hospital stays occurred in the time since I became a mother.

At the time, my kids were fairly young and didn’t really fully grasp what was going on. Although they still aren’t ready for the full story just yet, I do eventually plan to talk to my children about my suicide attempts and, more importantly, the work I’ve done in therapy since then.

I know that some people may scoff at the idea of admitting such a thing to their kids, and I understand the concern. Suicidal ideation isn’t something to discuss lightly and it’s uncomfortable to share something so vulnerable with anyone, let alone your children.

However, staying silent isn’t the answer when it comes to suicide prevention, and sharing our stories ultimately helps everyone in the long run. Many experts say that talking to your child about suicide can actually help kids feel more comfortable confiding in you and sharing how they feel, even in a moment of crisis.

I want my children to understand that everyone struggles at one point or another — even their mother. I want them to know that suicide is not what society often claims it to be. It’s not selfish or cowardly. In many cases, people who reach that point where they consider suicide feel hopeless, desperate, and out of options. It’s so, so hard.

More importantly, though, I want my children to know that even if they experience these feelings of desperation and suicidal thoughts, they aren’t alone. I know that I often felt very isolated and misunderstood when I experienced suicidal ideation because nobody told me that other people sometimes feel that way too. I hope that by sharing my past with my kids, they will feel more comfortable talking to me about their own bouts of depression and any thoughts they experience during those difficult days.

I know that starting a heavy conversation like this won’t be easy, but I also know in my heart that it will be so worthwhile.

When I tell them, I want to make sure to provide them with enough information so they understand, but not so much that it overwhelms them. I will give them all the information they need to understand, but I’ll leave out the graphic, unnecessary details. I’ll also make sure to answer any questions they may have and leave the conversation open-ended so they know that we can revisit the topic or talk about mental health any time they want.

If you’re also thinking about having these types of deep, meaningful conversations with your kids, I applaud you. Being vulnerable is never easy, especially with your kids. At the end of the day, though, talking to our children about suicide is not only important, but it’s incredibly brave. We all need to find our own ways to encourage conversations about difficult topics like suicide and mental illness because talking about these topics makes them less taboo so that we reduce the stigma society has attached to them. Together, we can help change the narrative about suicide for our kids and connect with them in new, meaningful ways.

Photo by Josue Michel on Unsplash

Originally published: September 21, 2021
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