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The Suicide Attempts That Go Unnoticed

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Editor’s note: If you struggle with suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

When I was 13, I attempted suicide for the first time.

Let me back up a bit, though.

I grew up with a severe mental illness (bipolar II), which was complimented by extreme chronic migraines that would constantly lead to hospitalizations for pain management. It was an interesting way to enter my teen years when they both decided to manifest at the same time. One thing led to another, and I found myself alone in my room with a couple of pill bottles next to me. I attempted that night for the first time, and I woke up the next day groggy and with a killer headache that had nothing to do with a migraine.

I didn’t need to go to the hospital. I didn’t need to have my stomach pumped. I wasn’t put in a “mental institution.”

None of this means it didn’t happen.

When I was 14, it was more of the same. Another migraine, another episode, another attempt. I went all the way this time. Had I been a person at the beginning of the struggle, new to pain medication and sleep aids, I would not have walked away from that one.

Due to luck, fate or perhaps because I had built up a tolerance, it didn’t work. I remember wanting it to work so badly. Waking up that next day was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I can’t even kill myself, I remember thinking all day. As if I were the biggest failure in the world.

Sometimes it can seem like the only people who are recognized for suicidal thoughts or attempts are either: a) Those who didn’t survive or b) Those who needed to be taken to the hospital and put under observation. You don’t tend to hear about the people who attempted at home and just walked away.

My attempts should not be viewed as cries for help or as if they were not attempts. I had every intention in the world of going through with it, but it didn’t work. This doesn’t mean the attempts didn’t happen. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t emotionally scarring or those attempts will not stay with me for the rest of my life, hiding behind my eyelids just waiting for that vulnerable moment when they can pop back up again. It has taken a long, long time for me to be comfortable talking about these experiences, but I have come around to that part of my life. I still try to make peace with my decisions every day, but it isn’t easy.

Just because a suicide attempt doesn’t put you in the hospital doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. We need to pay more attention to those who struggle in silence without the hope and support others receive in these situations. It should underscore our responsibility to treat others with respect, regardless of their story. It is on us to make this life a better and more supportive place for those in need. For too long, I watched as some of my friends and family members struggled in silence, thinking no one cared. Some of those people are not here today because they couldn’t get the help they needed.

Not all suicide attempts are created equal, but this doesn’t mean they should be treated differently. If you or a loved one is struggling with these thoughts, then know you are not alone. There are people who care about you, even if you can’t see it right now. Hang in there.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Originally published: September 26, 2016
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