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What It's Like to Face Your Loved Ones After Surviving a Suicide Attempt

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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.

 You think that if your suicide attempt does not result in death, then there will be no grief. You are wrong.

As I sit face to face with each of my loved ones in the days following my own attempt, this sobering truth hits me. There is pain, confusion and disbelief etched into their expressions. The words they speak are careful, the picture of control and strength – but their voices are on the brink of breaking.

I observe each individual’s struggle: some do it silently, want to process it, deal with it in their own head; others want to talk about it, demanding answers, wanting – no, needing – to know the root cause so this never happens again.

They ask, “Why didn’t you talk to us?”

Because I didn’t want to be stopped.

I say nothing.

They say, “Tell us how to help you.”

You can’t. Please let me die.

I say nothing.

They say, “We love you.”

I know. But love won’t fix me.

I say, “I love you too,” and I mean it.

You see, I can’t talk about it. Even now, even afterward. Even though I owe them all explanations. I just keep thinking, “I shouldn’t be here for this. This isn’t fair.”

I remember the weeks leading up to the attempt: how I spent time with each person, laughing and joking, trying to be the best version of myself for them, so that their last memories of me would be happy ones.

I remember during: putting away ice-cream I had bought in the freezer because it would be too much for someone to find melted ice-cream and a body, wouldn’t it?

I considered these selfless actions. I hoped they would cancel out my “selfishness” and free me of my guilt. But now it all just seems ridiculous.

I know now that the fact this was pre-meditated is somehow more painful for them. And more terrifying.

Because they know I was serious. That I’d thought it through. That I ordered the tools of my attempt from eBay and waited patiently for them to arrive in the post. That I made plans and promises with them that I had no intention of keeping.

They ask, “Was this just a cry for help?”

And I know what they hope the answer is. And I know they know that’s not the answer I would give if I could bring myself to speak.

But again, I say nothing, and wonder if the people I love will ever look at me the same way again.

There was a pivotal point during my attempted suicide, where I realized it was just that: an attempted suicide. A “failure.”

I lay on the floor of my studio flat and felt the ghost of hurt and betrayal that my family and friends would soon feel in the pit of my stomach.

But honestly? Even that could not have prepared me for the reality.

I vaguely remember answering my phone to a friend, who knew something was wrong and had been frantically calling me; I don’t remember what was said but I will never forget the pure terror in his voice.

Afterward, another friend turned up to wait for the paramedics with me, and I will never forget the silence as we sat together on my bed, the horror on her face that she tried to mask for me.

And these two were only the first to be hurt by my decision.

It’s three months on as I am writing this, and want to finish by saying to anyone who feels as I still do sometimes, that I know it can seem like you are the only person in this world who feels like this.

I know it can seem like there is nobody there to listen, nobody who will understand.

I know everybody is dealing with their own problems and you probably don’t want to worry or burden anyone with yours.

But please, try and talk to someone. Anyone.

I roll my eyes at posts all the time that tell me to do just that. I scoff and think, “Yeah, easier said than done!”

And it is. But try anyway.

Because if I could take back what I did — take back all the pain I caused to those close to me, the fear they are still debilitated with even now and will be for a long time — I would do it in a second.

Like I said at the start of this: Even if your suicide attempt does not result in death, there will still be grief.

Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

Originally published: August 15, 2018
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