My first suicide attempt was when I was in middle school. I’d spent most of my time there being severely bullied, met the first boy I ever loved (who broke my heart), and my home life was a disaster. This is also around the time I began self-harming. After this attempt, I went on to have around 9 more suicide attempts throughout the years. The memories of some of them are fuzzy because mental illness is eating at my brain. My most traumatic attempt was in 2017. I was in an abusive relationship and felt like I couldn’t take anymore. I hated myself and my life. I felt worthless and unlovable. On top of that, no one knew what was really going on in my relationship so I also felt alone. I was ready to die.
One afternoon, after an argument with my abuser, I went to the dollar store, purchased a bottle of medication filled with 100 pills, took them all, and awaited death. Realizing what I’d done, my mom drove me to the hospital. I was incoherent and could feel myself drifting off. The last thing I remember is my mom yelling at me to stay awake while she sped down the road. I don’t remember arriving at the hospital but I’m assuming they wheeled me into the emergency room and hooked me up to several machines.
When I was awake and alert, I couldn’t walk. I spent several days in the PCU and was eventually moved to a part of the hospital for people with kidney issues. Due to the amount of medication I consumed, my kidneys were messed up. I remember hearing one of the nurses say, “Most people who take pills in an attempt to end their life think they take a lot of pills and they haven’t, but she actually took a lot of pills.” I was being poked with needles every hour so they could run blood work and they told me if things didn’t improve I may have to be on dialysis.
I was scared I was going to die which is ironic considering I attempted to end my life. I couldn’t believe I was still alive. I remember cursing God for continuing to keep me somewhere I felt I didn’t want to be.
My most recent attempt was in 2020. I overdosed on Ambien and my ex called 911. I don’t remember anything after taking the pills and when I woke up in the hospital I had bruises on my body. I have no idea how they got there. My ex had no explanation and the nurses said I arrived with them on my body. My mom later told me they didn’t want my ex anywhere near me at the hospital so I’m assuming they believe he did something to harm me.
Surviving multiple suicide attempts is traumatic. Each attempt took a toll on me and the recovery process was hard. While I haven’t had an attempt in a while, I still have urges to hurt myself sometimes. Sometimes I wonder how and why I’m still alive. How did I live through taking so many pills so many times?
I realize it wasn’t my time to go and that I still have so much life left to live. If any of my attempts had been fatal, I wouldn’t be alive to see how much better life gets.
People who attempt suicide don’t always want to die, they just want the pain to end and death feels like the only solution.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2019, 47,511 Americans died by suicide and there were about 1.38 million attempts. Suicide affects people of all ages. I remember the first time I was in the psych unit at the hospital. I was shocked to see children as young as 5 in there. One day we had group therapy and a 9-year-old boy talked about how he wanted to hang himself.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. It’s a time to raise awareness about suicide and how it can be prevented, though I believe awareness should be spread all the time.
Suicide Warning Signs
When talking about suicide prevention, it’s important to know the warning signs.
- Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself, searching for ways to do so
- Feeling hopeless or experiencing unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Withdrawing or isolating themselves
- Feeling trapped
- Losing interest in most things
- End of life preparations
- Change in eating or sleeping habits
- Saying goodbye to friends and family as if they won’t see them again
- Extreme mood swings
- Depression, anxiety, aggression
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Sudden improvement/relief
Coping with Suicidal Ideation
Suicidal thoughts can become present when we’re in unbearable pain. When it comes to dealing with suicidal ideation, having strong coping methods can help. I personally feel like having something to distract you is good. This isn’t one of those situations where you should allow yourself to feel your pain.
A good idea would be to have an emergency bag or box filled with things that can soothe you. For a distraction, try putting on a video. This could be something light-hearted or something inspirational that relates to how you’re currently feeling. Other ways you can distract yourself include:
- Guided imagery
- Listening to music
When you’re in a crisis, you won’t feel like coming up with a safety plan, so it’s best to make one ahead of time. Coming up with a plan for how you’ll stay safe if you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts can help.
Your safety plan can include:
- What you need to reduce the risk of acting on suicidal thoughts
- What are your warning signs or triggers
- What have you done in the past that helped
- What coping methods do you have and what will help you calm yourself
- Positive things to tell yourself when faced with dark thoughts
- A list of names and numbers of who you can call
Put your safety plan somewhere you can easily access it.
If you know someone who is struggling, be there for them. Take time to listen without judgment and allow them to express themselves. As much as you may want to panic, stay calm. Take their behavior seriously and if they’re suicidal seek help immediately. Remember to be patient. I’ve been on both ends of the situation and I know it can be terrifying as well as frustrating.
If you’re struggling don’t be afraid to reach out for help. As scary as it may seem, it’s a life changing decision worth making. I could write out a list of reasons on why I was afraid of getting help but chose to do so. Not for anyone else but for myself. If you’re having a hard time remember it’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok to be down but remember when you’re ready, help is out there. Please know that you are not alone and that you are so loved and deserving of living.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line – United States – 741741, United Kingdom – 85258, Canada -686868
Trevor Lifeline (for LGBTQ individuals) – 1-866-488-7386 or text 678678
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 or visit thehotline.org to chat with someone
Veterans Crisis Line – 1-800-273-8255