Questions about suicide fly around my office more often than ever before. Big, round, bumble bee questions that have nowhere to land. They buzz and hum without resolution. Why? Why? Why?
Since April of last year, there have been seven student suicides at one high school in Colorado Springs. Seven. It’s horrific and heartbreaking. The students, staff, and the community vacillate between profound sorrow and disconnection. Each time word of another death reaches us, there is a collective clenching of hearts and teeth and the deepest sense of dread.
There have been seasons in my life when I believed suicide was my best option. My only option. Thoughts and feelings of the need to end the pain were experienced at differing severity for years on end. Those I wanted to hear and see my agony simply didn’t have the capacity, and I didn’t know other options existed.
In the depths of the agony, several times I attempted to end my life. It is much more essential for the reader to understand the emotional state of someone who is suicidal than the details of the attempts. It is easy to get caught in the details of someone’s “how” rather than allow ourselves to feel the full impact of another’s emotional “why”. Because of this, I have chosen to refrain from sharing the details of the attempts.
As I look back on those times in my life, I can quickly recall deep desperation and loneliness. Hope vanishes from the scene. Falling into night with no end; no hope of morning. Unending fear or terror or pain. Words do an injustice to the chaos involved.
In an attempt to shine light on the internal workings of at least one person’s inner struggle, I’m including writings from my personal journal from all those years ago:
Done! I’m done. I want to die. I need to, I need to Today. The pain is unbearable. Too big, too much. I’m drowning. When does it end? WHEN? My heart can’t take another ounce of betrayal. My body can’t take another sliver of fear. My soul can’t hold one more speck of shame.
I want to die and I don’t. I need the pain to end. That’s all. Why am I invisible? I don’t know what to do!!!! Why am I invisible? I’m right here!!!!
How did life get so screwed up? It feels like my arms and legs aren’t attached to my body. I’m falling. Nothing to grasp. There’s no bottom. I can’t stay here. I CAN’T STAY! Not another second. I don’t care what it looks like on the other side, because this this hell. Life is too heavy, chaotic, terrifying. They made choices, but I’m the one paying for it. Over and over and over. Today I’m done paying.
My heart is dying. I can feel it. Cell by cell, it’s dying and so am I.
It is so strange; I feel I’m past the worst of it every so often. I feel more indifferent to it all. Somewhere past the place of wanting to die. Resignation to death. A place of shoulder shrugs, blank stares, and who gives a shit. Live or die? Whatever. Might as well end it. It all matters little now. What am I doing here?
Please understand there is nothing fascinating, intriguing, or romantic about suicide.
Suicide is the glaring reality of death, pain, and the final interruption of hope. When I wrote these hopeless words (and pages and pages more) I was out of my mind and in over my head. Truly. I was so dizzy with excruciating emotional pain I was unable to see past my urgent desire to stop the pain.
My traumatic past and present were colliding in a way I didn’t know how to manage. I didn’t know counseling, telling the truth, having a mind of my own, or having real friends were options.
At that point, I believed courage meant ending it. I was wrong. So very wrong.
Courage means getting up the next day and asking for help. It means telling the truth to people who can really listen. It means saying aloud the things I swore I’d die before saying. It means getting proper care from people who could provide real, lasting help to rid my system of the toxicity that grew in my system for decades.
Had I died by suicide, that would have been the last word. It would have been the final statement on my short life; instead, I was given the opportunity to write a different story, and I’m grateful beyond measure. I don’t know why I’m still here. Perhaps your loved one isn’t. Perhaps your loved one died at his or her own hand. I don’t understand why some survive and some don’t, and I’m angry about it too.
To those whose loved ones died by suicide and left you with the human sized whole in your life and heart, for the many unanswered questions you’re left with, and for those wondering why their love wasn’t enough to keep them here, I’m so very sorry for your pain and tremendous loss.
And, to those who fleetingly consider why it might be best if they are gone or those obsessed minute by minute with the option of death by suicide, there is help. I’m not giving you ‘there is help’ cliché nonsense. I’m saying it because it’s true. Don’t let your final choice be the last word on your life.
I know when you are in thick of the despair, anyone pretending to understand feels condescending and patronizing at best. So, please know, I understand your story is different than mine. Your circumstances are different than mine. And, there is help no matter how far down into the darkness you’ve fallen. There is life left for you. Let someone help you find it. You don’t have to do it alone. The national suicide hotline is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week at 1-800-273-8255. You can also chat with them online here.