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Thread: On Surviving Suicide

  1. #1

    Default On Surviving Suicide

    Thoughts of suicide have been on my mind lately. I'm not contemplating it by any means, I've just been reflecting on my own experiences with it after seeing some recent posts here from members who were reaching that point in their lives.

    It occurred to me that the only time we really talk about suicide is when we're in the middle of someone else's crisis, or maybe one of our own, and we're wrapped up in committing all our compassion and energy in getting someone through a terrifying night, giving all the support and encouragement we can, along with referrals to help lines and suicide prevention resources. There's never really time to reflect and share our own stories.

    I wanted to start a different kind of thread... one for those of us who may have reached the end at some point in our lives, felt that suicide was the only answer, yet worked our way back into the world and thrived. I'd like to start an open discussion where we're talking about the issue without being in middle of a crisis, where we can share not only our personal experiences, but also, the things that have worked for us and kept us from falling back into the abyss.

    Most importantly, consider the following questions: As a survivor, what would you want to say to a person reading this thread who may be thinking of suicide? Is it a philosophy or an outlook that allowed you to continue? Was it a clinical matter requiring treatment or medication? Were there situational changes that improved your wellbeing? Also, how do you continue to deal with those days when depression returns? I would even hope to hear some outcomes that could inspire those who are reading this who have not been able to see their own self worth.

    The reasons for suicide are as individual and diverse as the people on this site. There is no right or single answer as to what could prevent a person from having these thoughts. But the sharing of our own stories may provide hope to some people, and encourage them to seek out their own answers.

    In a recent post, I recalled the quiet peaceful morning when I was going outside for the first time after my suicide attempt. It was so long ago, at the age of sixteen, stepping outside and feeling the sun on my face. It was just this small, simple pleasure that made me grateful that I didn't succeed in killing myself and gave me a small glimmer of hope in the long journey ahead.

    It also struck me about the number of people who stated that the only reason they were still alive was because there was a dependent in their lives, such as caring for a sick relative or even having a pet who relied on them. I suppose it all comes down to finding meaning in our lives and having other people recognize our worth. Viktor E. frank was an Austrian professor and founder of a humanist psychology. He was a survivor of the Auschwitz prison camp.The basic assumptions of his approach to psychiatry are that life has meaning under all circumstances. We find meaning through creativity, experiencing, and change of attitude (even if we can't change our situation we can change our attitude toward a condition, a transcending way of finding meaning, especially in unavoidable suffering) I don't accept all his concepts, but I do believe in our innate need to find meaning in our lives.

    I struggled with depression for many years after my suicide attempt. I was young and gay(although I was still in denial about that). By the age of twenty two, I was in a very closeted gay relationship. We weren't 'out' to anybody, not even our closest friends. It was the late seventies and gays risked violence, ridicule, and loss of housing or employment if we were discovered. It was too much for my partner to bear and he took his own life, combining prescribed medication with alcohol and then tying a plastic bag over his head. In the same year, a good friend took her life after discovering she was pregnant and her boyfriend took off on her. She died three months pregnant.Also, my best friend had relapsed on drugs after being clean for over a year. He wandered out onto a highway, completely stoned, and was hit by a car seconds later. All the people closest to me were gone within six months, their young lives lost in some of the most horrific ways possible.

    At the age of twenty two, I became an alcoholic and was heavily hit with depression. I was drinking a bottle of Southern Comfort every night and going into work late and hungover every morning. I was worried about another suicide attempt, even though my last one was six years previous. I took up long distance running and several years later I ran my first marathon. It gave me the strength to continue and I still credit running with having saved my life. I began working at a local distress Centre and wanted to continue in the field of helping others and sharing my own experience and empathy. Eventually I quit a good paying job working in the government and went back to school for Social Services. I now work for a non profit agency that advocates for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. My life has taken so many twists and turns, but I have found my voice and passion in defending and fighting for vulnerable populations. The days of contemplating suicide are far behind me. I know that we never really get over it, but at least for me, it got easier.

    And so... this thread is for us... an open discussion for those of us who have battled suicide and depression, and are still here to tell our stories, and to share them with people who may be feeling at risk today.

    What say you?
    Last edited by Starrunner; 02-Mar-2015 at 17:09.

  2. #2


    I have been there three times in my life.
    It was the final straw to a LONG chain of events. Thankfully I was still in enough cognitive thought that I realized I needed help.

    There is several levels to this answer so bare with me.

    First. The issue that got me to this point is very simple. I was worrying about every one except myself.
    This is such an easy path to get trapped on, and it was through therapy that I learned how to cope with problems and how to recognize that I was getting onto that path again.

    Second. Not every person that offers advice is your friend and not every one with blunt statements is your enemy.

    The two things I HATE is people that tell you to "pull yourself up by your boot straps". These are the people that through there own ignorance can not see that you have already pulled them up so hard they are chocking you and the cliff you are standing on is falling away.
    The other one is "Do you want people to think you are crazy?" These a gain are hurtful people that are not helping but pouring gas onto the already burning fire.

    Third Realize that things will continue to be an issue before it gets better. Depression does not go away. IT is a cloud that is always there. Whether it is a big dark thunder cloud or buttermilk sky clouds is the key to dealing with it.

    Going to see a therapist is not "being crazy". Denial and ignorance is "Being crazy". again the people that offer advice can be of help or dangerous. This is where a therapist comes in handy. But there again therapist can be a help or a hindrance. This is a very dynamic relationship and do not be afraid to change therapist. I have had the type that I would have been better to talk to a tape recorder. others that are in the middle and several that where/are very good. The problem with therapy is the malpractice insurance is such an issue that they stop practicing because of that.

    The whole outcome is up to you though. I have been in therapy since 1999 and seen a lot of people in different stages of treatment. The Therapist is there to listen to you, but they are also going to give you advice on ways to deal with your problems. Not everything works, and not everything is useful. It is a process of trial and error that takes time. I have found several coping mechanisms that I use and different ways of doing things. What works for me does not work for the next person. the same is true of the medications. However things have to be checked up on and reevaluated. So you do not just stop seeing the therapist and move on.

    I have needed med adjustments and the coping skills are just that skills. I need to touch base with the therapist every so often to get a refresher on some of the skills because I get to doing things automatically but with time I have forgotten a small step and they become ineffective. Then when I go into therapy again I realize that I forgot the most important part of the process.

    Yes it does become a pain when you have to spend so much time pushing yourself to do stuff or doing the exercises, but it beats the alternative.

    You will be judged because you are "Strange" but my get back to them is they are judges also with my "***hole meter" = Danger Will Robinson.

    This is an excellent thread, because this is what the final step to good mental health is. By doing things like this you can make a list of warning signs and have an escape plan for when you are in a EARLY warning phase.


  3. #3


    Tried it twice during my first childhood. First time I tried drowning myself face first in a tub, second time was leaping from a third story window. I had a nasty time back then, was picked on and bullied constantly by people around me AND my father and younger brother. It took a LOT of therapy and discovering myself to learn that it's awesome to be different and unique.

    I guess what I would say to anybody as a survivor or to my younger self is to remember that you're unique for a reason and that its nothing to be ashamed about, that it needs to actually be embraced. Also having family by your side (in this case my mother saved me from both tries), even if its just one person in your life, is never truly being 'alone'.

  4. #4


    I've been close to the brink, quite a few times between the age of about 19-22. I never made genuine plans to end my life. My childhood was scarred by the suicide of a loved one - so whilst I don't look down on anyone who reaches the point of ending their own life - I always knew it would leave too much chaos behind. Regardless, I had plenty of days where I didn't get out of bed, and felt like there was no reason to live. I was an alcoholic, struggling with mental health issues, and a disability which made me feel physically tired, and whereby the opposite sex largely considered me as being hideous.

    Some of those things I managed to fix. The things I couldn't fix, I began to accept, and realised that I had to try and make a go of improving my mental health, and stop pressing the self-destruct button every time I found myself getting stressed. I'm certainly not happy all the time, but I'm much, much more content and grateful for the life I have, than I was even 3 years ago. There is always, always some light at the end of the tunnel, even when you can't quite see it.
    Last edited by Sanch; 02-Mar-2015 at 15:08.

  5. #5


    When my mom sent me to see a psychiatrist at the residential mental facility, he gave me a card with his personal home phone number. It was a suicide card. I had tried on at least two occasions. I was depressive, and had a lot of arguments with my mom. When I was in high school, it was over a girl I was dating and someone she didn't like. I tried to electrocute myself. When I was in college, it was over a boy and I tried to drown myself, swimming out as far as I possible. The problem was that I grew up on the water and was a very good swimmer, so I floated back in, exhausted, and I might add, crying. I eventually had a psychotic break which is when she set up the appointments.

    Life is never easy, especially when you're young. So much is thrown at you, and you're expected to rise to the occasion and conquer. Most of us don't. We simply find ways to survive and that's okay. Eventually I got my life on track, but it took time. It's for that very reason that suicide is such a bad idea, because over time, most of us make it. We all want to be successful, but we have no real idea what being successful is. When you get older it hits you like a brick. It's about finding happiness, learning that you don't have to be rich or famous; just happy, and happiness, though elusive, is simpler because it can come from just a walk in the woods on a beautiful day.

  6. #6


    Thank you Starrunner for starting this thread. I know that it will benefit me to take part in some discussion of this topic, and I think it's likely the same for many folks on this site. Nothing unusual here, but I had a pretty unstable childhood, and dealt with plenty of emotional abuse from my step-father.

    I can distinctly remember laying in bed awake one night. I was ten years old. The thought popped into my head that I would really prefer not to be alive... I knew that I shouldn't kill myself, but I also knew that part of me wanted to. I spent a while debating internally whether someone who committed suicide would still go to heaven. I no longer believe in an after life, but I'm very glad that ten year old me, decided not to risk it. Unfortunately, I spent the rest of the night awake vividly imagining all the different ways I could kill myself. I was terrified. I was really bewildered by my thoughts and wanted them to go away. I wanted to talk to my parents, but I convinced myself that doing so would be a quick ticket to a mental hospital. I never said a word of it to anyone, I pushed the thoughts away, and they stayed away for the time being... Of course now, I wish that I had found someone to talk to.

    When I was 13 I returned from South America to live with my mom and step-dad. He had recently returned from Afghanistan and was suffering severely from PTSD, opiate addiction and alcoholism. I experienced his madness and abusiveness on a nightly basis, and finally one night I watched as he held a loaded pistol to his head in the living room. My mom talked him down from it. She saved his life. We called the police. They took him to a mental hospital, and he was furious when he got home a couple days later. I think he still wanted to die. For a long time I wished that my mom hadn't talked him out of it. I felt very guilty for feeling that way. Again, I pushed these experiences out of my consciousness.

    When I was 19 I had been living on my own for a year, there was a long chain of events, but it lead to me abandoning the Christian faith that had been such a big part of my life to that point. I was ok with my new perspective on eternity, but I could see no good future in how I would relate to my very Christian family, and I felt that I had no purpose in life. For probably three or four months, I wanted very much to be dead. The only reason I didn't do it was because of the suffering I knew I would cause for my siblings and parents and friends. I never considered suicide as an option, I just wanted it to be. I knew that I had to find a way to get better. My state of mind at the time was not sustainable for a life time. Before that time, God had been my reason for living. That was no longer the case, but I decided that love would be my reason to live.

    I also learned that to be capable of loving others, I had to love myself. The biggest part of that for me was accepting myself as AB/DL, and as Gay. I spent a lot of time thinking and writing and working through my thoughts and experiences. I wish I could say that my suicidal thoughts just went away immediately, but they didn't. It was a very gradual process. I think in some ways it is the same as healing from a physical wound. It takes time and care and patience. Gradually things got much better. It's been about three years since then. I certainly still struggle with depression sometimes, but I am so much happier overall, and I no longer have thoughts of death hounding me.

    I just have a couple things to add, that I think have been helpful to me in getting better. I think when a person is really in a dark place immediately following heavy thoughts of suicide or an attempt, it may be better to avoid intentionally talking and thinking about suicide. At least for me there were enough of those thoughts in my head already. However, with the benefit of some time and distance and healing, I think it can be very beneficial to put some work into learning more about suicide and its impacts. This thread is a good example of that. I know that personally I read lots of articles and personal accounts and stuff.

    There are also two fantastic novels that I have read in the last year. Suicide is not the main focus of either one, but it does play a role in the stories. I would recommend both of these books to anyone. Mostly just because they are beautifully written, and they tell such human stories. One is "Norwegian Wood" by Haruki Murakami. The other is "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck. In "East of Eden" there is a very wise old Irishman named Sam Hamilton. At one point he is talking with Adam Trask who has suffered from years of deep depression. They have a long and complex discussion but at the end Sam basically just tells Adam that sometimes even when you are horribly depressed, you just have to put on a smile and pretend to be happy. Because when you do, things will eventually get better; and someday you will wake up to find you really are happy. I don't think this should be seen as an excuse to not deal with underlying issues, but rather as a reminder that things will get better.

  7. #7


    You hit it on the head, dogboy.. I'm glad that you made it through the challenges in your life and that you are here to tell it. I hit rock bottom for about three years until this past August.. not to the point of suicide by any means but I wanted to just give up on life. Kept fighting and fighting and I'm on the mend now!

  8. #8


    Here is the link for a story I came across a while back, that I found very interesting and helpful. The article includes a link to this person's blog which is worth checking out. I cried, in a good way, the first time I read it.

  9. #9


    I'd say I'm still surviving and not quite thriving, but I'm slowly on my way there. For me it was really a philosophical thing that needed to be tweaked. All the expensive medication doctors can offer can't help if you have poor mental hygiene. Even though at my worst times I was unable to change my perspective like I'm doing now, I at least could play a trick on myself and setup safeguards.

    No matter what, my curiosity will always get the better of me. So for me - to control the worst suicidal ideation - I told myself 'I bet you don't know what will happen tomorrow.' Not knowing or not being right about a prediction was enough to make me want to find out. Even though logically I know it's a silly thing, I use it as common ground to hold back my illogical self. This safeguard still works quite well for me although I don't get very far into my moods anymore.

    These days I can clearly see, with the help of some good friends, that I was dealt a bad hand that I need to play a little differently to win. I've had to remove myself completely from anything or anyone familiar - if only for weekends - so I can learn what is healthy and what I've been in all my life is very unhealthy. I've also had to come to the conclusion that once I'm on the rise certain people won't be allowed back into my life if they aren't interested in being happy or healthy. I won't be dragged down for the sake of others.

    Also individual pain can't be measured or compared. So I'm glad this thread is starting out the way it is. My suffering has been very real for me, just like if someone tells me their story and how it held them down - it's just as real to them. Recovering from hardships is the point, not comparing the magnitude of them.

  10. #10


    You sound like you are getting back on the right track, Kitty Safe recoveries to you and we all heal/change from our rocky pasts, generally good ones that shape us into what we've become today!

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