CW: Suicidal thoughts.
I’m just going to say it…life is hard, and sometimes I want to die. Sometimes I feel a rush of unbearable sadness take over me. It turns out I’m not alone. To get through some statistics quickly — from 2000 to 2018, there was a 36% increase in suicide rates, according to the CDC. It’s the ninth leading cause of death in people aged 10 – 64 and second if we reduce the age limits to 10 – 14 and 25 – 34. In 2020 alone, 12.2 million Americans seriously considered suicide.
I can remember being a young girl coming home from school crying again. Feeling bullied and friendless and without a mom for comfort and a dad who was always working. I don’t think I wanted to die, but it was easy to start hating myself. It was easy to dislike the things about me that made me different from other people.
However, I persevered. I found strength in people who accepted me. I found happiness in my mom being reunited with my family. My dad finished school and got a better job, which meant we moved to a better life. Yet, unconsciously I still condemned myself for being different and making mistakes anyone would make. I was tormented by demons of my own creation.
I found myself fantasizing about a life I could only dream about despite it being an everyday reality. I wanted to live in the city, have a good job, and be with my friends. Just be young and be free and be happy. So I found ways to start achieving my goals. I worked hard and used the resources I was given and myself very close to living the life I always wanted.
So why have I wanted to die before? Why have I woken up and considered suicide? Why have those thoughts flooded into my brain and felt so consuming, like I could not think of any other way to make the stress and anxiety and tomorrow stop? I don’t know when the thoughts started, for sure. But it seemed the more I became who I think I wanted to be, the less control I had over my anxiety.
As someone in the mental health field who works with 988, I recognized my symptoms immediately and started my journey in treating my own mental health, finding an excellent therapist for myself. While mental health recovery is never immediate, the improvement has been significant. Which is where I find the most tremendous burden to this crisis. A trained professional may be able to effectively recognize their symptoms and seek help, but how do we bridge the gap with the rest of the community? Especially when there is a significant emphasis on seeking therapy for many different things. It’s important to acknowledge that what may not seem like a crisis to one person can still be a significant source of distress for another. This is something that we often encounter on the crisis line, where individuals may be going through difficult situations that may not necessarily meet the traditional definition of a crisis. However, we still strive to provide support and empathy to all callers, regardless of the nature of their situation.
The next step forward in medicine is going to be in mental health. The last major breakthrough is still identifying how the brain controls our psyche and creates our personalities. Until that time, mental health is becoming too prevalent of an issue to leave on the back burner any longer. Finding real ways to connect to and treat people with suicidal ideation is as important as finding breakthroughs in heart disease and cancer.
Center For Disease Control. (2022, June 28). Suicide data and statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/suicide-data-statistics.html