This week (9–15 September) is Suicide Prevention Week, and Tuesday 10th September 2013 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Choose Life are promoting the message: If you can read between the lines, you can save lives. 762 people died by suicide last year and in this blog Gail shares some of her story of living with suicidal feelings, and what has helped her.
I can’t remember when I first thought about suicide. I could tell you the dates, times, and places of where I attempted suicide, but having thoughts of suicide had become quite normal for me by the time I was in my second year of university. I’d plan in detail ways to kill myself, which would make me feel like I could handle life until I could carry out those plans. I didn’t tell anyone about it, I didn’t want them to worry. I felt really guilty about having these thoughts because I was, to everyone on the outside, living a fun and fulfilling life. I felt I should be glad that I had got into university, on the course I was hoping for, with supportive parents and a good circle of friends. Why would I want to die? Now I know though, I didn’t want to die. I was living with such horrible, tiring, emotional pain that I didn’t see how I could live much longer with it. Planning my escape was the only thing that kept me going a lot of the time.
When I first tried to take my own life, my friends and family were understandably shocked and upset. They couldn’t understand why I would do it. Some of them said some really unhelpful things which made me feel worse, like “how could you put your mum and dad through that?” and “why would you do something so stupid?” and “but you’ve got so much going for you!” They didn’t understand that they were adding to the guilt I already felt, and had felt for months before when I had been experiencing the thoughts about suicide. Shortly after, I tried to take my life again, and people started to get annoyed at me. I was called “attention seeking” and told it was a cry for help. They couldn’t understand that I didn’t want any attention, I wanted to disappear. I became more withdrawn, although I had been experiencing these thoughts and feelings for a long time, no one had known. Now they did and I was ashamed and embarrassed as well as feeling guilty.
With time, I managed to move on. It wasn’t a smooth or straightforward journey, if I was to write it all down it would be a series of books, not a blog post, but I did get better. What helped me was building trust in people and being more open about what I was feeling. People also had to start trusting me. I got a summer job and no one there knew what had happened, I could be myself again and being myself there helped me to be more myself at home, where people seemed to become less scared of me the more I spoke about how I felt and the more my confidence grew. There are a number of people who don’t speak to me now, old friends, and although it hurt a bit, I have moved on as well and the people who are there for me now are the ones I can rely on. I’ve found Breathing Space to be really helpful when I can’t speak to the people closest to me, and I find keeping a journal helpful too. It is all about what works for you though – never give up hope. I thought I was going to spend my life planning my death til I died, but now, though I struggle with suicidal thoughts from time to time, I know I can get through them.
A blog post was never going to be long enough to tell my story, but I want to make sure that everyone who might feel like I did knows that things can get better.
Breathing Space : 0800 83 85 87 (24 hours at weekends, Fri–Mon 6pm–6am and Mon–Thurs 6pm–2am)
Samaritans : 08457 90 90 90, firstname.lastname@example.org, SMS: 07725 90 90 90 (24 hours, 7 days a week
NHS24 : 08454 242424 (24 hours, 7 days a week)