Who do you think of when you hear “survivors of suicide?” Many people think of the families and friends who are left behind when someone close dies by suicide. I think of another group of people. I think of the people who tried to kill themselves, but didn’t succeed. Call it a cry for help, call it an accident, call it whatever you like. That person could have been gone forever, but they aren’t. You, as a family member or friend, probably feel concerned. Mostly though, you probably feel thrilled they’re still with you.
On December 4, 2011, after attempting to overdose on over-the-counter drugs, I was not thrilled to still exist. To me, death would have been the relief. I was not thrilled when I took my first ever ambulance ride. I was not thrilled to stay in the hospital for a few days with someone sitting in my room watching me 24/7. The part I focus on, is the pudding. Vanilla pudding whenever I wanted it. Pudding, I could deal with. Life, I couldn’t.
From the hospital I was transferred to an institute for psychiatric and addiction treatment. There I took classes on how to cope with things like stress and anger. I learned ways to lessen the impact of my depression. I had my medications changed around. The best part though, was the people. I met some of the most amazing and inspiring people in the world. People more incredible than you could possibly imagine. These people had been through unimaginable situations and struggles… and they were still here. Still fighting. I spent almost a week as an inpatient there before being released into outpatient treatment. Then I had to go back every day for group therapy and scheduled appointments with a psychiatrist.
Returning to the outside world, away from my safe haven of the institution, was not what I wanted or expected. But, it was reality. Not a lot of people knew what happened. Those who did were mostly supportive. The worst part was telling people I had tried to kill myself. I blamed myself. I felt beyond ashamed, guilty, and awful. Sometimes I still do. Some people called me selfish when they found out. Some people told me that I was going to Hell. Others labeled me as crazy. You never forget those moments or words. You never forget how you feel. I made a lot of people very angry with my choice, and I ruined a lot of relationships.
The one thing that everyone wanted to find out was why. Here’s the important part of my story, the part I want everyone to know: It’s not about why I did it, it’s that I did. It’s about the thousands of people who do. It’s about the fact that no one seems to genuinely care enough or take suicide seriously until it actually happens. It about the fact that a lot of people don’t get the second chance I did.
Here’s what you can do: Reach out to people. You have no idea the difference it might have made if someone had said to me, “I’m here, I care, and you’re not alone. You are special. You are unique. You are loved.” Don’t just say it, mean it. You have no idea whose life you might be saving.
I feel that it made things worse. i left the hospital and stopped my medications. my family treats me different. my life is different. i feel like i did die that day.
We are so sorry for your struggles. Please contact your doctor and see how you can be helped. We are here 24/7 for you. Your life matters to us! 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Robert D frost
Well done Kristin, you were fortunate to get such good support after your attempt. From the helpline number I assume you are in the US. I have never been offered counselling (I am a multiple attempt survivor), one consultant psychiatrist was most dismissive and discharged me without outpatient support while I was still completely suicidal. It may be improving but poor attitudes still exist here in the UK as far as I can gather. It has been nearly ten years since I was last in psychiatric care, it has been a struggle, but I did manage to get support from the community health team (NHS) a few years ago, which has helped.
Robert, thank you for reaching out to our community! We’re glad to hear you reached out and got the help you needed. Don’t hesitate to call us if you ever need extra support at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), if you are not within the United States, please visit http://www.iasp.info to find out about service providers in your area.
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We should never one minute think about ending our lives. It’s a precious gift