My experiences with suicide have been varied with people I have been close to attempting or succeeding to kill themselves as well as living with a mental condition where your own mortality is a constant thought. I don’t pretend to understand it, no one can really see the world through the eyes of another individual, but I can tell you how my brushes with it have had impacted on my life.
In my experience where others have taken or tried to take their own life there has been anger and bafflement at why they would do something so stupid. How could they have even contemplated such a drastic solution to a potentially temporary problem? I’m not going to name names because it adds nothing to the story, but you look at them in a selfish way and wonder how they could do that to you. How can they put you and their friends and family through such a terrible time?
I always saw suicide as something a younger person did. We’re always told that younger men are the main demographic for taking their own lives, but like any condition it’s a more complex issue. The main experience I had was of an older person who tried to take their life and it tore me up to think that an adult could behave like this. I was still young enough to see the generational difference in this light that I was a child compared to this adult. Only with maturity and hindsight I now have a better understanding of the situation they found themselves in.
You see mental illness was the reason behind it and now I have been in those dark places too, as recently as this week. I don’t want to scare anyone but the thought of driving off a road or just closing my eyes and putting my foot down has often crossed my mind. The possibility of escape from this misery cage I can be trapped in seems so far removed sometimes that death does seem like a sensible option. It’s a fleeting thought because I know that it is not the answer and with so many people I love and can talk to it would be the wrong thing to do.
And I think that the key is in the openness I have with my illness; nothing is hidden as I try to speak about it honestly at home, to friends and family, at work and here online. I don’t let the issues get bottled up or gain momentum. I not only have a personal support team around me, I know I have professionals who will help me if I need it too.
I know not everyone who contemplates suicide has these things around them. I’m also more than aware that it’s not always mental health that causes the self inflicted ending of life. Physical problems, pain, guilt or just because are all possibilities too.
So I suppose the question on a day life this is, “What can I do to help someone who may be suicidal?” Simply be there, be prepared to listen and don’t try to solve their problems for them. That thought of having those who love them around them and open to their concerns may help in stopping the ultimate reaction.
On a sadder note, if you do all that and something still happens – be prepared to accept the decision was beyond anything you or anyone else could have done. Sometimes the decision to take your own life cannot be understood, explained or stopped.
If you are struggling, remember there are people who can help you. Just ask.