It’s National Suicide Prevention Week, leading up to World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th.
I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and came across the hashtag #IKeptLiving. Suicide survivors were talking about how they were glad their attempts had failed, and those who had thought about suicide in the past were explaining why they decided not to go through with it.
I am one of the latter.
Nearly 14 years ago, when I was 15, I was seriously contemplating ending my life. I had already been diagnosed with clinical depression and severe OCD, and I was being treated by two psychologists at a treatment centre for adolescent mental health. During one of my early sessions, they gave me a questionnaire to fill out so they could better understand how I was feeling.
While they were discussing it with me, they asked me which question had been the most difficult to answer. I tried to tell them, but found I couldn’t get the words out, so they laid the questionnaire down on the table in front of me and asked me to point to it instead.
I pointed to ‘Do you think about committing suicide?’ I had answered yes.
One night, a few weeks later, while I was contemplating my latest round of prescription meds for my numerous health conditions (physical and mental), I started to think seriously about how many I would need to take to make all the pain go away. Probably more than I had handy, I reasoned, so I would likely need to sneak a bottle of alcohol out of my parents’ drinks cabinet to wash them down with.
I didn’t go through with it, but I was dangerously close. I’ve explained why I chose to keep living in a previous post, so I’m not going to talk about that now. Instead, I want to talk about why I’m so glad I’m still here.
If I had taken those pills, I wouldn’t have graduated from high school and two university courses.
If I hadn’t gotten help, I wouldn’t have just come home from the job I love.
If I hadn’t kept going, I would never have gotten two poems and a short story published.
If I had let the darkness take me, I wouldn’t have had the past 14 years with my family and oldest friends, or had the chance to meet all the wonderful new friends I’ve made in those years.
If I had listened to the depression and anxiety, I would never have seen the Grand Canyon, or Yellowstone National Park, or three people I love get married.
If I hadn’t focussed on that glimmer of hope, I would never have met my idol, the wonderful Kate Mulgrew, who is integral to the reason I’m still here.
If suicide had been the end of my journey, I wouldn’t have the rest of my life in front of me, and all its unknown possibilities.
Those are just some of the many reasons I’m glad I chose to keep living. I hope you are able to find yours. Remember: you are unique; you are irreplaceable; the world will be worse off without you, not better.
If you need someone to talk to, there are people who can help. The organisations’ names are linked to their websites.
Samaritans: 116 123
HopeLineUK (Papyrus): 0800 068 41 41
Breathing Space: 0800 83 85 87 (Scotland)
Crisis Text Line: Text ‘GO’ to 741 741
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 800 273 8255
You can find a list of international suicide helplines here.