Some people might know that September is Suicide Prevention Month. Some may have have even known that Sunday, September 10th was National Suicide Prevention Day. I wanted to sit down that day and put all these thoughts to paper (metaphorically speaking, of course), but Sundays are a day spent with my family. So, instead I did it today. National Suicide Prevention Day, and Suicide Prevention Month is a time to bring awareness to both those who have died by their own hand, those who have attempted suicide, those who struggle with suicidal thoughts, and the resources available to help people in these kinds of crisis situations. The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention is rolling out distress and crisis service later this year. Their website is loaded with information for both suicide prevention, and coping with suicide loss.
There are some astounding facts about suicide on the internet. Below are a few that I found on Wikipedia...
"As of 2011, an estimated one million people per year die by suicide or "a death every 40 seconds or about 3,000 every day." According to WHO there are twenty people who have a failed suicide attempt for every one that is successful, at a rate approximately one every three seconds. Suicide is the "most common cause of death for people aged 15 – 24. More people die from suicide than from murder and war; it is the 13th leading cause of death worldwide. According to WHO, suicide accounts for nearly half of all violent deaths in the world. Brian Mishara, IASP president, noted that, "more people kill themselves than die in all wars, terrorist acts and interpersonal violence combined." The number of people who die by suicide is expected to reach 1.5 million per year by 2020. "
The facts about suicide that we can gather from an information point of view, the statistics, are not debatable. Some of peoples interpretations about suicide can be. I can't tell you what suicide is to each person who struggles. I can tell you, as a 5 time suicide attempt surviver, what it is and isn't for me.
For me personally, suicide wasn't ever a concept that arose in the depth of despair. I didn't ever want to end my life because I was sad, or felt like no one was there for me, or even because I had lost the ability to see my future. It was always out of exhaustion. For me personally, my depression is manageable. In actuality, when feeling depressed, I couldn't possibly muster the energy or drive for such a feat. At the opposite end of the spectrum, when my mind is overwhelmingly busy, when my anxiety is uncontrollable, when my body is so restless that I feel like I want to tear off my own skin, when the intensity of my emotions are heightened, when I am bombarded non stop by ideas; that is where I struggle. At the times in my life that I had attempted to commit suicide, I didn't fit into the stereotypical warning list. My attempts had always come as a complete surprise to family and friends. From WebMD, I found a pretty typical list of warning signs, which are very helpful, but not always accurate for everyone.
- Always talking or thinking about death
- Clinical depression -- deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating -- that gets worse
- Having a "death wish," tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights
- Losing interest in things one used to care about
- Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
- Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
- Saying things like "it would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out"
- Sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
- Talking about suicide or killing one's self
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
In my experience, I can say honestly that at no time did I want to die. I did however want what was happening in my head to stop. I never gave away my belongings in preparation. I never contacted friends or family to say goodbye. I didn't talk about or think about death. I didn't feel worthless. I didn't think that the world would be better without me. I had never lost sight of my future. In truth, I could always just see too much in my future. During each period of life for my suicide attempts, everything was too much. Too much socializing. Too much drinking (not in frequency, but in volume), too much shopping, too much thinking, too many ideas, to much energy, too much emotion, too much need for change, too many compulsions, too much anxiety.
Although it has been said that "suicide is a cowards was out", I can assure you that the amount of "courage" that I had to summon was immense, to be able to continue when I was utterly terrified. Not just of the act, but of the consequences. If I was successful, what would happen to my soul. If I was successful, what would happen to my family, my friends. If I was successful, how would I be damaging the life of the person who found me. If I was unsuccessful, what would happen to the way people thought of me. If I was unsuccessful, what would happen to my relationships. If I was unsuccessful, how would I ever finally be able to cope with living in my own head. Classic Shannon, overthinking at every opportunity.
The last thing that I can tell you from my own perspective, is that even though it has been ingrained into me that these kinds of actions are embarrassing, I am always open to talking about them. I am actively trying to grow beyond my shame. If you have someone in your life who you think is contemplating suicide, or know someone who has tried to commit suicide, don't be afraid to talk to them about it. Previously linked in this post is the Canadian Association for Suicide prevention. Included in the incredible information on their site, is a page to help those that are concerned for someone.